Dawson Casting / Film

    open/close all folders 

    Straight Examples 
  • 17 Again stars a 23-year-old Michelle Trachtenberg as the main character's 17-year-old daughter.
  • Adventures in Babysitting — Penelope Ann Miller, 23, Elisabeth Shue, 24, Bradley Whitford, 28.
  • Most live-action adaptations of Alice in Wonderland have this problem. The titular role is usually played by a woman at least in her late teens. Alice is supposed to be seven. The youngest actress was at least twelve.
    • The 2010 Tim Burton production plays with the subsequent expectation on the part of the audience, leading us to believe at first that this is just another "adult playing Alice" film only to reveal after she tumbles down the rabbit hole that this is a sequel and the Alice of the story is about to turn 19.
    • Funnily enough, the Disney Animated Canon version used a child voice actress (12-year-old Kathryn Beaumont) even though animation provides the perfect excuse for using an adult. Beaumont was also the physical model for the character, so Alice ended up being drawn looking like she was about eleven or twelve rather than seven. Played straight decades later when Beaumont, in her sixties by this time, voiced Alice in Kingdom Hearts.
  • In-Universe in All About Eve. Margo Channing (Bette Davis) is a 40-year-old actress playing a 24-year-old character in a stage play, and she is insecure about it.
  • A little-known flick, Ally Farson, from 1999 was about a 20-something film student who goes on a killing spree. The movie, like The Blair Witch Project, hyped itself as footage from a real incident, however Ally is played by a woman who is clearly in her 40s or even 50s.
  • Aloha Summer is a 1988 comedy-drama film about a group of teenagers and their experiences one summer in Hawaii. The film stars Tia Carrere (21), Chris Makepeace (24), Don Michael Paul (25), and Yuji Okumoto (29).
  • Two out of three movies in the original trinity based on the Amy Fisher / Long Island Lolita scandal... Noelle Parker (Amy Fisher: My Story) and Alyssa Milano (Casualties of Love: The Long Island Lolita Story), both in their 20s, as teenaged Amy Fisher. The third being 17-year-old Drew Barrymore in (The Amy Fisher Story.)
  • An American Werewolf in London: The two lead characters who are referred to as "boys" and appear to be college kids in their early twenties were played by 30-year-old David Naughton and 26-year-old Griffin Dunne.
  • In the crime drama Another Day in Paradise, 27-year-old Natasha Gregson Wagner plays a teenage runaway. However, her fellow teenage runaway boyfriend is played by 18-year-old Vincent Kartheiser, who looked young for his age to the point that he had to show the director his driver's license to prove he was 18. This makes the characters' relationship kind of... odd, especially since they have multiple sex scenes.
  • Another Earth starts off with 17-year-old Rhoda Williams, and then skips forwards to 4 years later, when Rhoda is 21. Rhoda is played by 29-year-old Brit Marling.
  • Attack of the Eye Creatures. John Ashley was 30 when he played high school student Stan Kenyon.
  • This is the case with some of the films from the American Girl series. The actresses playing the roles are a few years older than the protagonists they depict, although this is less of an issue when Abigail Breslin was cast as Kit Kittredge, as she was 10 by the time the film was produced. Shailene Woodley was 13 when she played as Felicity, and it's an even more extreme case with Canadian actress Erin Pitt portraying the 2014 Girl of the Year Isabelle Palmer.
  • American Graffiti has 25-year-old Richard Dreyfuss, 27-year-old Paul Le Mat, 25-year-old Cindy Williams and 25-year-old Candy Clark as teenagers that are finishing high school and about to head off to college. 19-year-olds Ron Howard and Charles Martin Smith aren't that bad though.
  • Mostly averted in American Pie, where most of the kids aren't too far removed from high school age. Notable exceptions are 25-year-olds Alyson Hanigan and Shannon Elizabeth, and 23-year-olds Tara Reid and Seann William Scott.
  • In The Aviator, Gwen Stefani plays Jean Harlow, who was 19 at the time the film shows her; Gwen was 34 during filming, eight years older than Jean when she passed away.
  • 21-year-old Georgina Cates lied about her age and pretended to be a teenager in order to play a 16-year-old in the film An Awfully Big Adventure. It worked — the cast, crew and director fell for it. Possibly also a subversion, because when Cates first auditioned and gave them her real name and age, she was told she was too old for the role.
  • The Babe Ruth Story, 42-year-old William Bendix (and he looked every day of it) plays the Babe starting at age 18.
    • Likewise, 39-year-old John Goodman plays Babe Ruth from late teens to baseball retirement in the 1992 biopic The Babe.
  • Back to the Future
    • Michael J. Fox plays 17-year-old Marty McFly into his late twenties, having done the first film when he was twenty-three. He also played himself at 47. In Part II, at 28, he played Marty's 17 year old son and similarly aged daughter in the future.
    • Lea Thompson, who plays Lorraine, is just nine days older than Fox. Thomas F. Wilson, who plays Biff, a contemporary of Marty's parents, is just two years older than Fox, while Crispin Glover, who plays George McFly, is three years younger than Fox. All three actors invert the trope in 1985 scenes, where they are playing the characters as they are in their late 40s. But this is justified because the actors also have to play high school age versions of their characters in 1955, whereas in 1985, where Marty originates and when George, Lorraine, and Biff are at the ages Marty knows them as, the actors wear makeup to make them look middle-aged. Though it's also played straight in 1955, with Thompson being 23 and playing a 17 year old Lorraine, Wilson being 25 and playing an 18 year old Biff, and Glover being 20 and playing a 17 year old George. For Part II, 28 year old Thompson was 17 year old Lorraine and nearly 30 year old Wilson was 18 year old Biff (he also played Biff's 19 year old grandson Griff in the 2015 section), while Glover was replaced with 30 year old Jeffrey Weissman as 17 year old George.
    • Then there's an inversion with the 46 year old Christopher Lloyd playing Doc Brown, who is in his seventies. This example necessitated that for Part II, it be explained that Doc went to a rejuvenation clinic that added 30 years to his life so that Lloyd, now aged 50, wouldn't need to wear old-age makeup, as he's predominantly playing the 1985 Doc in the sequels, as opposed to the first film, where he predominantly played the 1955 Doc, who was closer to Lloyd's actual age, being in his forties. They also replaced his spleen and colon.
  • In one of the funniest scenes in Bad Boys II, young Reggie shows up at Marcus' door to take his daughter out on a date. He is taller than either Will Smith or Martin Lawrence, with a deeper voice too!
    Reggie: I'm here to take out Megan
    Marcus: How old are you?
    Reggie: I'm fifteen, Mr. Burnett.
    Marcus: Motherfucka, you look thirty! Show me some ID.
  • The Burton/Schumacher Batman films have quite a bit of this.
    • There's Michael Keaton, who was 38 when he first started portraying Bruce Wayne/Batman — even though, according to the comics, Wayne was only in his mid-twenties when he first became Batman.
    • And 52-year-old Jack Nicholson as Jack Napier (The Joker) — when, in the script, Napier is said to be still in his thirties.
    • Danny DeVito was in his late forties at the time of the filming of Batman Returns. Oswald Cobblepot/The Penguin is explicitly said to be 33 years old. And with the makeup, DeVito looks even older. Then again, living in the sewer for years won't leave you looking like a fresh spring chicken...
    • Then 25-year-old Chris O'Donnell as college student Dick Grayson/Robin in Batman Forever. If he weren't also acting his way through the origin and there weren't lines later clearly implying he's supposed to be a pre-teen, it'd be close, but still something of a stretch, but that they actually didn't realize those contradictions leads to something like Chris Sims' "This is like me adopting you. Or...like Batman adopting both of us!"
  • Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice sees Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Thomas Wayne, Bruce's father. While he's six years older than Ben Affleck, who plays Batman, the movie has a scene where Bruce laments that he's older than Thomas was at the time of his death, meaning Morgan's playing a character who's younger at the time of his death than Bruce is in the present day.
  • Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon. Both were born in the early 1940s, and both starred in a series of Beach Movies in the mid 1960s with vague plots about how "school is out, so let's go to the beach."
  • Mickey Rooney, born in 1920, 5' 2" with chipmunk cheeks, based his whole adult career around playing teens, until he was almost 50 years old. He went from explicitly underaged characters, and then transitioned into young adult roles by playing characters with no expressed age, but who were still ambiguously young. For example, his character "Peachy Keane" in the 1965 beach party film called, "How to Stuff a Wild Bikini." This image of youth was helped along by the fact that he was a perpetual newlywed in real life.
  • Fabiano Anthony Forte often played a restless teenager with a penchant for singing.
  • Beaches — Hillary and C.C. meet as 11-year-olds in 1958 and write letters until they reunite as adults. The reunion, Hillary has graduated from college to become a lawyer, dresses as a hippie, and the various vehicles place the timeline circa 1970, in their early 20s. Adult Hillary and C.C. are played by 40-something Barbara Hershey and Bette Midler.
  • A Beautiful Mind: Russell Crowe was in his late 30s while playing the main character. The movie begins as he enters Princeton University, which the real John Nash did when he was 20 years old.
  • In the Liberace biopic Behind the Candelabra, which takes place during the final decade of the showman's life, 42-year-old Matt Damon plays Liberace's lover, Scott Thorson, who was in his late twenties when Liberace died.
  • Parminder Nagra was 26 when she played 18-year-old Jess in Bend It Like Beckham.
  • The Nicholas Sparks movie The Best of Me features a prime example of this trope gone wrong. Twenty-five-year-old Luke Bracey plays a teenaged flashback version of the male lead character—named Dawson, who is played by James Marsden in the present day. Unfortunately, Bracey looks every one of those 25 years and bears little resemblance to Marsden. A review of the film published by ABC News called this particular choice a "cinematic disaster" and "one of the worst pieces of casting I've ever seen." The actress playing the teenaged version of the female lead is also an example of this, but not as bad, being 19 to her character's 17.
  • Lampshaded in Better Off Dead when Charles de Mar (played by then-32-year-old Curtis Armstrong) says, "I've been going to this high school for seven and a half years! I'm no dummy!"
  • A Bigger Splash plays this twice, with the 26-year old Dakota Johnson playing 22-year old Penelope, who at the end of the film is revealed to actually be 17.
  • In Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure, the eponymous high schoolers were both played by actors in their twenties.
  • The 1996 film version of The Birdcage features Ally McBeal star Calista Flockhart playing an 18-year-old. She was 31 at the time of filming. Dan Futterman, who plays her (20-year-old) fiance, was about 28.
  • Blackboard Jungle from 1955 may be the Ur-Example, with Sidney Poitier (28 at the time), Vic Morrow (28), and Paul Mazursky (25) playing thuggish high school students. Jamie Farr (21), who played the mentally-challenged, perpetually smiling Santini, and Rafael Campos (19), who played the diminutive, wisecracking Morales, were probably closest to high school age. Made even more ironic by the fact this film is credited with launching teen-favored rock and roll music into the mainstream (even though the man who recorded the title song, "Rock Around the Clock," Bill Haley, was actually a little older than Poitier and Morrow).
  • In The Blob (1958), high-schooler Steve Andrews is played by 28-year-old Steve McQueen in his first starring role.
  • Danielle Harris is a 32-year-old teen in Blood Night: The Legend of Mary Hatchet.
  • Blow: Ray Liotta and Rachael Griffiths played Johnny Depp's character's parents. Depp is older than Griffiths and only slightly younger than Liotta.
  • Bonnie and Clyde had 26-year-old Faye Dunaway and 30-year-old Warren Beatty playing real life outlaws that were 23 and 25 respectively when they were hunted down and killed.
  • Boogie Nights: 26-year-old Mark Wahlberg and 27-year-old Heather Graham start off the film as teens, one stating his age explicitly as 17, the other shown dropping out of high school.
  • Christine Taylor (Marcia), Jennifer Elise Cox (Jan), and Christopher Daniel Barnes (Greg) were all in their twenties when cast in the mid-90s Brady Bunch movies. Interestingly, Cox is actually older than Taylor in real life, despite playing her younger sister.
    • Their classmates, such as Jack Noseworthy, Alanna Ubach, R.D. Robb, Shane Conrad, are all in their 20s.
  • Most of the actors in The Breakfast Club were out of high school, with only 2 actually being under 18.
  • In Breakfast on Pluto, Cillian Murphy plays Kitten both as an adult and as a teenager, and makes a pretty good teenager for an actor in his early 30s. Of course, playing a 16-year-old is much easier than playing a drag queen.
  • Breaking Away: The four lead characters are supposed to be 19. Jackie Earle Haley was 17 at the time, then there's Dennis Quaid (25), Dennis Christopher (24), and Daniel Stern (22).
  • In Rian Johnson's Brick, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Nora Zehetner, Emilie de Ravin, and Meagan Good were twenty-two years old during production, playing high school students, and Brian J. White was twenty-eight.
  • Bring It On — Some of the actors are in their 20s, most notably Gabrielle Union (age 28) during the first one, and Christina Milian (age 28) during Fight to the Finish. Though the trope was averted with Kirsten Dunst (age 18) and Eliza Dushku (age 19) in the first film, Hayden Panettiere (age 16) in All Or Nothing and Ashley Benson (age 18) in In It To Win It.
  • The Brothers Grimsby features Sasha Baron Cohen (44) and Mark Strong (52) playing brothers, with Cohen's character actually being the older of the two, despite clear physical evidence to the contrary. It could be argued that this is all part of the joke, however.
  • In the film version of Astrid Lindgren's The Brothers Lionheart 12-year-old Jonatan was played by Staffan Götestam who was 26 at the time. However the character was aged up intentionally as it seemed a bit improbable on film that a 12-year-old would be entrusted with such a degree of leadership in a La Résistance group.
  • The Buddy Holly Story: Gary Busey was 35 when he played Holly, who died at the age of 22.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: 23-year-old Kristy Swanson as Buffy, and 27-year-old Luke Perry as her high school boyfriend.
    • Swanson later played a teenager (or at least an early twentysomething) in her early 30s in Dude, Where's My Car?.
  • In Bunraku, teenage Momoko is portrayed by 25-year-old Emily Kaiho, who sort of pulls it off by being fresh-faced and petite. Much is made of how Yoshi is the youngest of the protagonists, and inexperienced and hot-headed as a result. Gackt meanwhile is pushing forty (but looks twenty years younger).
  • The Burning Bed covers a specific period in Francine Hughes's life from age 15 to age 29. You would think that they would cast someone around the age of 22, someone halfway between 15 and 29. Instead, they cast 37-year-old Farrah Fawcett.
    • Likewise, you also have 39-year-old Paul Le Mat (see American Graffiti) playing Francine's abusive husband Mickey from his time as an 18-year-old high school dropout to his death at the age of 32.
  • Candy in The Candy Snatchers is 16 years old and played by 21-year-old Susan Stennett.
  • Carrie:
    • In the 1976 version, the eponymous 16-year-old protagonist was portrayed by a 26-year-old Sissy Spacek. She was the same age as P.J. Soles, who played Norma Watson. This was true for most of the teenagers, who were, oddly enough, only a few years younger than 29-year-old Betty Buckley, the actor playing Miss Collins.
    • The sequel, The Rage: Carrie 2, features various people in their 20s, most notably 24-year-old Emily Berg in the leading role, 27-year-old Jason London as her boyfriend, and 27-year-old Dylan Bruno as his friend.
    • Angela Bettis was 29 when she portrayed Carrie in the 2002 version, with 26-year-old Tobias Mehler as her balding prom date with forehead wrinkles.
    • The 2013 version inverts this with the casting of Carrie; Chloe Moretz was 15 years old during filming, playing a high school senior who would've been 17 or 18. But then it plays it straight with 23-year-old Gabriella Wilde as Sue Snell and 24-year-olds Portia Doubleday and Alex Russell as Chris Hargensen and Billy Nolan. Then there are those who don't have their birthdays listed on IMDb (absence of a D.O.B. usually equals a much older actor who is relying on this trope for employment). The contrast between a girl in her mid-teens compared to adults in their mid-twenties highlights this trope.
  • The Carry On film Carry On Camping featured a school girl played by the 32-year-old Barbara Windsor.
  • In Catch Me If You Can, 27-year-old Leonardo DiCaprio plays real life former con artist Frank Abagnale from age 15 to his mid twenties. However, Abagnale did look much older than his age during that time, which helped him get away with his various cons.
  • In Catch That Kid, Corbin Bleu, Max Thieriot, and Kristen Stewart play 12-year-old kids who rob a bank. At the time, the actors were 15, 16, and 14, respectively.
  • Charlie's Angels features a flashback montage at the beginning with Charlie's voiceover, "Once upon a time there were three very different little girls…" They then show three adults dressed as girls up to high school age. In the sequel, three years later, they do it again with 28-year-old Drew Barrymore, 31-year-old Cameron Diaz, and 35-year-old Lucy Liu. Apparently, this is humorous.
  • In Cherrybomb, the three 16-year-old protagonists are played by Kimberley Nixon (who was 22 at the time), Rupert Grint and Robert Sheehan (both of whom were 20). It generally gives the audience a bit of a jolt when Sheehan's character confirms how old they are towards the end of the movie, firstly because the cast are blatantly older than this, and secondly because we've just watched said character engage in a sex-and-drugs orgy and violently murder someone.
  • Child's Play:
  • Sally Ann Howes was in her mid-30s when she played the 20-something Truly Scrumptious in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Years later, she would describe herself as having been "the world's oldest virgin".
  • Josh Trank's 2012 film Chronicle follows three Seattle high school seniors who form a bond after gaining telekinetic powers from an unknown object, and the three main characters are played by people in their mid-twenties, along with many of their schoolmates.
  • The Chronicles of Narnia
    • In Prince Caspian, 25-year-old Ben Barnes was cast as the 17-year-old titular prince. (He's 13 in the book.)
    • In Dawn Treader, Eustace is supposed to be 10. He's played by 17-year-old Will Poulter. The main four get some of this as well, though not as bad. In the first book, they're 13, 12, 10, and 8. In the first movie, the actors playing them were 18, 17, 14, and 10.
  • In the Soviet 1947 Cinderella movie, the titular heroine is played by Janina Żejmo, who was nearly 40 at the time. The actresses for the stepsisters were younger, but still both over 30.
  • In City of Ember one of the two 12-year-old leads is played by Saoirse Ronan, who was 13 at the time of filming. The other is played by Harry Treadaway, who turned 23 during production.
  • Played straight, averted, and inverted in Click. Jonah Hill portrays the 17-year-old version of Adam Sandler's son at age 21, while 15-year-old Lorraine Nicholson portrays the 14-year-old version of Sandler's daughter, and Katie Cassidy portrays the 27-year-old version of Sandler's daughter at age 18.
  • Clockstoppers has some conspicuously twenty-something teenagers.
  • Malcolm McDowell was 27 when he played Alex in A Clockwork Orange. In the original novel, Alex is 15 years old.
  • Clueless: Stacey Dash was 28 portraying a 16-year-old in the movie and then came back for the TV show where she played a 16-year-old until she was 31. (Dee, Stacey's character, lampshaded this in one episode when she mentioned when they were 27 they'd be "old enough to play teenagers on TV.") The rest of the teen cast had an average age of 21, but 19-year-old Alicia Silverstone and 18-year-old Brittany Murphy work fairly well as 16-year-olds.
  • Four years after Carrie, then-30-year-old Sissy Spacek played Loretta Lynn in Coal Miner's Daughter — starting at the age of 14.
  • The Conspirator features 42-year-old Norman Reedus playing Lewis Payne who was 21 at the time of his death.
  • Cool as Ice: Kristin Minter was 26 when she played the fresh-out-of-high-school Kathy.
  • The 2015 zombie-child flick Cooties has an Obvious Stunt Double scene as the teachers escape the school Clint trips a child zombie that - judging by the hips - had definitely been through puberty (the cutoff for turning into a zombie in this movie). You can see it in the trailer, here, at 1:50.
  • In the 1996 film The Craft, 16-year-old coven member Rochelle was played by 30-year-old Rachel True. The other three 16-year-old girls were all played by actresses in their 20s, but were all at least half a decade younger than True - Robin Tunney as Sarah was 23, Fairuza Balk (Nancy) 21; and Neve Campbell (Bonnie) 22.
  • Inverted with Emma Stone in Crazy Stupid Love, she was 21 playing a character who was at least 25.
  • Critters - 24-year-old Nadine Van der Velde as teen girl April.
  • Cry-Baby — Wade "Cry-Baby" Walker (27-year-old Johnny Depp) is the leader of a gang of "Drapes", which includes his teenage mom sister Pepper (22-year-old Ricki Lake), facially disfigured Mona "Hatchet Face" Malnorowski (34-year-old Kim McGuire), wild and free-spirited Wanda Woodward (22-year-old Traci Lords), and Milton Hackett, the nervous son of overzealous religious activists, (24-year-old Darren E. Burrows).
  • Cry_Wolf features Lindy Booth (in her mid-20s at time) as an 18-year-old.
  • Dangerous Minds features 21-year-old Renoly Santiago and 29-year-old Wade Domínguez as a couple of many 20-something students.
  • David And Lisa, 1962, starred then 26-year-old Keir Dullea and 19-year-old Janet Margolin in the title roles — respectively sixteen and thirteen.
  • David Lynch loves this trope.
    • Twin Peaks, Fire Walk with Me takes place days before the TV show and all the 20-something actors (mentioned in the TV section) are a few years older, with some flashbacks taking place years before the TV show, and Sheryl Lee playing 15. There were some additions to the movie that weren't in the TV show, such as 24-year-old Moira Kelly as 17-year-old Donna Hayward, and 27-year-old Pamela Gidley as 17-year-old Teresa Banks.
    • In Wild at Heart, 23-year-old Laura Dern plays her character as a 13-year-old in flashbacks. Dern had trouble passing as a teen when she was one, for instance when she was 19 in Blue Velvet.
    • In Dune: Sting (then 33) and Kyle MacLachlan (then 25), play Paul Atreides and Feyd Harkonnen, notwithstanding that both those characters are between the ages of 15 and 18 for the entirety of the original novel. To be fair, the makers of the TV miniseries of Dune also went for this trope as well, citing the availability of credible 15-year-old actors to play the lead part.
  • Dawn of the Dead (2004) has 24-year-old Lindy Booth as 17-year-old Nicole.
  • Jake Gyllenhaal was 23 when he was cast as a teenager in the 2004 movie The Day After Tomorrow.
  • Richard Linklater's Dazed and Confused sometimes plays it straight: Christine Harnos (25), Parker Posey (24), and Sasha Jenson (28) portrayed incoming high school seniors despite being older than age-appropriate Matthew McConaughey, who played a twenty-something graduate.
    • Christin Hinojosa, who played incoming high school freshman Sabrina, was 17 at the time of the film.
    • Subverted by Cole Hauser, who looked like your usual over-aged jock despite being only 18, making him one of the youngest "teens" in the cast.
  • In Dead End Drive-In Ned Manning was in his mid-thirties when playing the teenage hero Jimmy, or "Crabs". Reportedly he even lied about his age to the film's director.
  • Dean Koontz's Phantoms — 25-year-old Rose McGowan plays a character that was 14 in the book.
  • Deux. This French film stars Isabelle Huppert as twin sisters in an extremely confusing storyline that jumps crazily backwards and forwards in time and space, with no attempt to make Huppert look appropriately older or younger. There are a couple of lengthy sequences in which she appears as a schoolgirl, despite being in her late forties. In addition her/their mother, played by Bulle Ogier, is seen in flashback as a young heavily pregnant woman despite being in her sixties.
  • Devil in the Flesh — 25-year-old Rose McGowan plays a teenaged murderess.
  • Diana: 45-year-old Naomi Watts as Princess Diana, who died at age 36.
  • In Dirty Dancing, Jennifer Grey (now 27) plays 17-year-old Frances (Baby). She did look the role, though. Johnny is 25 years old, and played by 35-year-old Patrick Swayze, who unfortunately looked his age, making it look a bit squicky.
  • Disco Pigs brought us Cillian Murphy, then 24, playing a 16-year-old. He was pretty convincing until he was shirtless . (Not that most of the audience probably minded much. Or at least, they normally wouldn't have, but the monologue he delivers while shirtless can come across as rather ... icky). It is rather justifiable, as he actually looked very convincing, and he did play the character in the stage play version at 19 years of age.
  • Pretty much every teen in the Divergent series is played by an actors well into their 20's. The only one who's closest to their characters' age is 16-year-old Caleb, who's portrayed by then-19-year-old Ansel Elgort.
    • 18-year-old Four is played by 28-year-old Theo James. Word of God specifically cast the latter due to Ability over Appearance. Eric, who's in Four's generation, also counts, being played by 27-year-old Jai Courtney. They left the two's ages deliberately vague as a result.
    • 16-year-old Tris is played by 23-year-old Shailene Woodley. Keep in mind that she's supposed to be the younger non-twin sister of Caleb (though no more than eleven months, since they partake in the same Aptitude Test), and yet Ms. Woodley is four years older than Mr. Elgort.
    • Not to mention Tris' fellow 16-year-old colleagues: Al (played Christian Madsen, who was 22), Christina and Will (Zoë Kravitz and Ben Llyod-Hughes, respectively, who were both 26), and Peter (Miles Teller, who was 28).
    • The Divergent Series: Insurgent adds more Dawsons into the "16-year-old" lineup: Marlene and Uriah (Suki Waterhouse and Keiynan Lonsdale, respectively, 22) and Lynn (Rosa Salazar, 29).
  • Don't Tell Mom the Babysitter's Dead — 20-year-old Christina Applegate as 17-year-old Sue Ellen. 21-year-old Keith Coogan as her 16-year-old brother.
  • Double Dragon - Mark Dacascos, Scott Wolf, and Alyssa Milano were all in their mid to late 20s when they were cast as teens.
  • In Draft Day, Josh Pence (31) plays Bo Callahan, while Chadwick Boseman (36) plays Vontae Mack. These are supposed to be college football players entering the NFL draft, who are usually 21 to 23 years old when drafted.
  • In Dragonball Evolution, high-schooler Goku is played by 27-year-old Justin Chatwin.
  • Drive Me Crazy: 23-year-old Melissa Joan Hart stars as a teenager with prom problems. Co-starring 23-year-old Adrian Grenier as her high school sweet heart.
  • Drop Dead Gorgeous from 1999 stars 28-year-old Denise Richards as a teen beauty pageant contestant.
  • The Duff has 26-year-old Mae Whitman, 25-year-old Robbie Amell, 24-year-old Bianca A. Santos and 20-year-old Skyler Samuels as high schoolers.
  • Earth Angel (1991) was a movie about a prom queen who dies in the 1960s and then has to do a good deed 30 years later. It was seemingly influenced by movies such as Back to the Future and Peggy Sue Got Married, and like those movies, needs actors that can pass as both teenagers and middle-aged people. Of course, no real teens were cast, and most of the actors were in their 30s and 40s, most notably 42-year-old Erik Estrada.
  • All of the "kids" from Easy A are between 21 and 25 years old. This actually presents a minor problem, as one of the characters is supposed to be too old for high school, having been held back repeatedly, but appears indistinct from the other actors. Additionally, they had gotten age-appropriate actors for the flashbacks, and this meant that, in the four years between the past and present, the characters seemed to have aged ten years.
  • Election - 23-year-old Reese Witherspoon as Tracy Flick.
  • Ellen Page is frequently cast as a teenager (14 years old in Hard Candy, 15 years old in The Tracey Fragments, 16 years old in Juno, and 17 years old in Whip It), despite being 17 to 22 respectively at the time of their production. Ditto for her roles in An American Crime (where she played 16-year-old Sylvia Likens) and X-Men: The Last Stand (where she played the teenage Kitty Pryde).
  • Teen idol Elvis Presley, in his 20s and beyond, would portray characters that were explicitly adolescent, such as in King Creole and Love Me Tender, or age-unspecified young adults who live with their parents, aren't yet married, headed for college or the military, are newcomers on the entertainment scene, hold down jobs suitable for high school dropouts, and enjoy youthful beach parties.
  • Elvis and Me starts off with explicitly-stated 14-year-old Priscilla, portrayed by 25-year-old Susan Walters.
  • Encino Man - 21-year-old Sean Astin and 24-year-old Pauly Shore as average high school geeks who discover a caveman named Link, played by 24-year-old Brendan Fraser. The two friends succeed in passing off Link as an Estonian exchange student at their school, and Link and dates a girl named Robyn, played by 23-year-old Megan Ward.
  • The Entity features mature-looking, Hispanic, 21-year-old David Labiosa as the teen son of young-looking, Caucasian, 32-year-old Barbera Hershey. When they are first introduced, the audience is to believe that they are a married couple... until his calls her "mom" and she nags him about a letter from his high school counselor. This is foreshadowing of future events in the movie.
  • Ever After - 18-year-old Danielle is played by 23-year-old Drew Barrymore. Her two wicked stepsisters, of approximately the same age, are played by 20-year-old Melanie Lynskey and 28-year-old Megan Dodds. "Prince" Henry, is played by 33-year-old Dougray Scott. The character of Henry, in this particular movie, is based on Henry II of France, who married Catherine de' Medici, a member of the ruling family of Florence, on 28 October 1533, when they were both fourteen years old. He was king by 28.
  • Face/Off: In the second half of the movie, 43-year-old John Travolta plays 30-year-old Castor Troy. Averted in the first half where 33-year-old Nicolas Cage is playing Castor.
  • The Faculty - Most of the main teens are played by people in their early 20s, with a couple of exceptions.
  • The 2009 Fame remake has numerous examples: Victor (played by Walter Perez, age 27), Denise (Naturi Naughton, 25), Marco (Asher Book, 21). The actors closest to the actual age of the characters they play are Kherington Payne (Alice) and Kay Panabaker (Jenny), both 19.
  • Olesya Rulin plays a 16 year-old girl in Family Weekend despite being twice that during filming. Matthew Modine's father character is probably supposed to be younger than him as well; he's old enough to be Rulin's father, if on the young side at 21, whereas he would have fathered a 16 year-old at 37.
  • FAQs, from 2005, follows hairy-chested, tired-looking Joe Lia as teen runaway named "India" as he interacts with various other street youths who also clearly in their 20s. Though Joe Lia's exact age remains a mystery, he graduated from University of Southern California in December of 2003.
  • Fat Girls, from 2006, follows the antics of Texas teen outcasts in their senior year of high school. Every cast member is in their 20s.
  • Fatal Beauty - Zack Jaeger is a juvenile delinquent who is too young and cute to be a threat... played by 25-year-old James Le Gros.
  • The Fault in Our Stars:
    • Shailene Woodley was twenty three playing Hazel at sixteen.
    • Ansel Elgort was borderline, being twenty and playing an eighteen-year-old (and amusingly is listed as nineteen at one point by Isaac).
  • Fear, from 1996, 20-year-old Reese Witherspoon, 24-year-old Alyssa Milano, 25-year-old Mark Wahlberg, 27-year-old Todd Caldecott, 33-year-old Gary Riley.
  • Female Trouble — Mink Stole, in her late 20s, plays a 14-year-old, and it's heavily lampshaded.
  • Ferris Bueller's Day Off merits notation. Matthew Broderick was 24 at the time, Jennifer Grey (Ferris' younger sister) was 26, but Alan Ruck (Cameron) topped them both by turning thirty a few weeks after the film was released. By glaring contrast, fellow cast member Kristy Swanson celebrated her 16th birthday shortly before the premiere.
  • The Final Destination series is knee-deep in this trope. As an example, 28-year-old Kerr Smith and 29-year-old Amanda Detmer as high school sweet-hearts.
    • Somewhat averted, however, by the fact that (contrary to the popular belief that all the films center on teenagers) only the characters in the first and third film are supposed to be teenagers. The characters in the second, fourth and fifth films are actually meant to be in their twenties or older.
  • Fired Up: has 23-year-old Sarah Roemer, 27-year-old Nicholas d'Agosto, 30-year-old Eric Christian Olsen, and 30-year-old Daneel Harris playing high school cheerleaders.
  • Flight of the Navigator — 20-year-old Matt Adler as 16-year-old Jeff Freeman.
  • Another really bad example comes from the rather poor film adaptation of the novel Flowers in the Attic by V. C. Andrews, in which actors that look like adults are cast as characters who, in the book, were 14 and 12. This even breaks the plot; the male lead is large enough to simply physically overpower his abusive grandmother while the rest of his siblings simply walk out the front door of the mostly empty mansion.
  • Kevin Bacon was 25 when he played teenager Ren McCormack in Footloose. Ironically, he had played 18-to-19-year-old Chip Diller in Animal House when he was in fact 19 years old.
  • In For Your Eyes Only, 22-year-old Lynn-Holly Johnson played the 14-year-old Bibi Dahl, though this was likely done to reduce the squick of her infatuation with Bond.
  • Foxfire — 20-year-old Jenny Lewis, 21-year-old Angelina Jolie, 23-year-old Hedy Burress, 25-year-old Sarah Rosenberg, and 29-year-old Jenny Shimizu as high school students.
  • Freedom Writers - 21-year-old Jaclyn Ngan, 27-year-old April Lee Hernández, 30-year-old Will Morales.
  • Friday the 13th — You'll be hard-pressed to find a real teen in any installment of this teen slasher series.
    • One inversion came in part 2. Marta Kober was 17 at the time of filming (even though she was supposed to be in her early to mid-twenties like the rest of the counselors), which made her sex scene/death difficult.
  • Fun Size: A high schooler (19-year-old Victoria Justice) goes with her best friend from school (baby-faced, but tired-looking, 23-year-old Jane Levy) to a Halloween party to be with a "boy" from school (26-year-old Thomas McDonell). Chelsea Handler plays the mom, 11 years older than Thomas McDonell.
  • Ginger Snaps centres around the lives of two fifteen year old sisters; the older sister Ginger was played by Katharine Isabelle, who was about 19 as of the film's release, while her little sister Brigitte was played by the younger-looking actress Emily Perkins, who was actually four years older than Katharine.
    • This is pushed further in the 2004 sequel, in which no more than a year has passed since the events of the first film. Katharine Isabelle was 23 and Emily Perkins was 27 by the film's release.
  • Girl in Gold Boots. Buz is supposed to be college age, but the actor is clearly in his early 40s.
  • In Girl, Interrupted 28-year-old Winona Ryder played the titular 19-year-old. Critics at the time mentioned that whilst Ryder did look younger than her age this was still pushing it more than a bit.
  • The Giver has 24-year-old Brenton Thwaites as 16-year-old Jonas.
  • In Goodfellas, Henry Hill and Tommy DeVito are played by child actors in the opening fifteen minutes, then the film jumps forward a few years and they are replaced by 34-year-old Ray Liotta and 47-year-old Joe Pesci. The story covers a period of nearly twenty-five years, so the choice of actors makes sense (it's considerably harder for someone in their twenties to make a believable 40-year-old than in the opposite situation), but it does produce a bit of an "er, what?" moment when the narration identifies Ray Liotta as a "21-year-old kid." It's especially jarring when you realize that Pesci is meant to be in his early twenties during the famous "What do you mean I'm funny?" scene. It is worth noting that Tommy never comes within 10 years of Pesci's age. Similarly Jimmy, played by Robert De Niro who was well into his forties by that point, is first introduced as a 28-year-old. Fortunately, they whiten his hair in the later parts to age him.
  • The Goonies: 26-year-old Steve Antin plays the high school bully Troy.
  • In Grace Of Monaco, 45-year-old Nicole Kidman plays Grace Kelly during the early '60s. At the time Princess Grace was in her early thirties.
  • The Graduate paired 30-year-old Dustin Hoffman as a recent college graduate, and 36-year-old Anne Bancroft as the middle-aged wife of his father's business partner. Not to mention 27-year-old Katharine Ross as her daughter Elaine. 37-year-old Gene Hackman was originally cast as Bancroft's husband, but Mike Nichols decided he couldn't pull off the middle-aged look as well as she could and wound up recasting the role.
  • An (in)famous movie example: 33-year-old Stockard Channing (in other words, old enough to have actually attended high school in the 1950s), as 17-year-old Rizzo in Grease (not to mention most of the rest of the "teenagers" in the cast; of the central teen characters, only one was actually a teenager — then-19-year-old Dinah Manoff). Even more audaciously, Manoff is paired with Channing as her Lancerand it works. The sequel features a full cast of 20-somethings like 24-year-old Michelle Pfeiffer.
  • Hackers — 17-year-old Jesse Bradford is the only teen actor. The other leads are played by people in their early 20s, ranging from 20-year-old Angelina Jolie to 25-year-old Matthew Lillard.
  • Hairspray 2007 — 21-year-old Amanda Bynes as Penny, 21-year-old Brittany Snow as Amber, and 20-year-old Elijah Kelly as Seaweed.
    • The original 1988 film had 27-year-old Michael St. Gerard as Link.
  • The Halloween Series, about a guy who kills high school seniors
  • Happy Birthday to Me - 25-year-old Matt Craven as one of many 20-something teens (though they're technically college students, so it's not quite as bad).
  • Harold and Kumar in Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle. Played straight with John Cho, who, at 30, played a character two years out of college — but averted with Kal Penn, who was a relatively age-appropriate 26. By the time the sequel came around, this trope was played straight with both actors (35 and 31 respectively, playing their characters at 24-25 since the action picks up right where the first film left off).
  • Harry Potter:
    • Moaning Myrtle (a ghost who died in her teens) was played by then-37-year-old Shirley Henderson in Chamber of Secrets (her being a ghost, her appearance thusly being quite worked-over already and somewhat obscured by the opticals involved, probably helped hide the fact).
    • David Tennant (then 33) was the right age to play Barty Crouch Jr. in Goblet of Fire - in the present-day sequences. However, he also plays Crouch in a flashback to Crouch's trial, which took place when the character was 19.
    • A convoluted example involves Tom Riddle, who appears as a 16-year-old in two films made seven years apart. In Chamber of Secrets, 23-year-old Christian Coulson played Riddle. By the time Half-Blood Prince rolled around, Coulson was pushing 30 and the part was recast with actual 16-year-old Frank Dillane.
    • Deathly Hallows Part 2 features an inversion, where the Distant Finale has everyone being played by the same actors as before, only with special-effects applied to try and make them look like they're in their late thirties, around 37 or so, despite only being in their early 20s.
    • This trope was done unintentionally with the actors playing James and Lily Potter. When the movies began, Lily and James were played by 34-year-old Geraldine Somerville and 43-year-old Adrian Rawlins, respectively. And the roles were never recast, leaving them both in their 40's and 50's by the time the movies ended. This is a glaring example of Dawson Casting, as Lily and James were barely in their 20's when they died. But it's unintentional because ages for James and Lily at the time of their deaths were not revealed until near the end of the book series, years after most of the movies had been produced.
      • A similar issue is Alan Rickman - 54 at the time the first movie was made - as Professor Severus Snape, who's the same age as Harry's parents and therefore in his mid-thirties in the first book. Even worse are the flashbacks in the eighth movie, where Rickman (then 64) plays Snape at around age twenty.
  • The best example has to be Hating Alison Ashley, which centers around a year 9 (though it was grade six in the book) camping trip. The actors in the movie version were 20 and 21 at the time of its release.
  • Havoc and its pseudo-sequel Normal Adolescent Behavior feature 23-year-old Anne Hathaway and 24-year-old Amber Tamblyn and their equally early 20s friends.
  • In Hellgate, Ron Palillo plays one of four college students who encounter evil in a ghost town. He was 40 at the time.
  • Some of the stars of High School Musical are in their twenties. Most were at a reasonable age at the start, but the time of the films moves differently then real time. Monique Coleman obviously fits at age 26, though she doesn't look it.
  • The Hills Have Eyes (2006) - 25-year-old Emilie De Ravin as teen Brenda.
  • The Hitcher II: I've Been Waiting, It's heavily implied that Jake Busey is the same character played by Rutger Hauer in the first film, even though Busey is 27 years younger than Hauer.
  • Household Saints is a 1993 movie about three generations of women, but focuses mostly on the courtship of teenagers Catherine and Joseph (played by 34-year-olds Tracey Ullman and Vincent D'Onofrio). The focus then shifts to the future, when their teen daughter meets her boyfriend (played by 26-year-old and 27-year-old Lili Taylor and Michael Imperioli).
  • The Howling: Robert Picardo was 28 when he played the "kid" Eddie Quist.
  • Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte - Bette Davis plays a teen or young adult at the beginning before the story skips ahead 40 years. Bette was in her 50s. Pains were taken to hide Bette's withered visage in shadow, or film her from behind.
  • I Am Number Four: the two leads, 14 in the book, are played by a 21-year-old and a 25-year-old.
  • I Love You, Beth Cooper was filmed the year Hayden Panettiere, as the titular high school cheerleader, turned 19. So far so good. Unfortunately Paul Rust as Denis, the "I" in the title, was almost 30. (The film has a scene where Denis can't buy beer because he doesn't look old enough, a moment which fulfils director Chris Columbus's quota of irony for the next few decades.) The end credits feature high school pictures of the main cast and the above-the-line crew; Panettiere is just about the only one of the former (and it's safe to say the latter, unless there's something 20th Century Fox isn't telling us) who looks the same as she did working on the movie!
  • I Shot Andy Warhol is about Valerie Solanas, the person who shot Andy Warhol, and the movie starts off about her early life. Born in 1936, Solanas graduated from high school in 1954, graduated from the University of Maryland in 1958, and did nearly a year of graduate work at the University of Minnesota, making her 25 at the very oldest. She is played by 33-year-old Lili Taylor.
  • The Identical has 40-year-old Seth Green and Blake Rayne playing the teenage versions of their characters for part of movie.
  • If These Walls Could Talk — 23-year-old Hedy Burress plays a high school student.
  • In the Name of the Father had Beatie Etney play 17-year old Carol Richardson while at least 30 herself at the time of filming (however she's later aged up as her character spends 15 years in prison).
  • All the adult characters in In Time have physically aged exactly 25 years, but Amanda Seyfried was the only cast member who was actually 25 at the time of filming. Cillian Murphy was 35. The premise also allowed for some justified inversions of the trope, such as actors in their twenties or thirties playing characters with triple digit ages as well as 26 year-old Olivia Wilde playing Justin Timberlake's 50 year-old mother.
  • The 2006 version of The Initiation of Sarah, featuring 25-year-old Summer Glau as 18-year-old Lindsay.
  • Interstellar has a minor case with child Murph - she starts at 10, Mackenzie Foy was 12 - but a much bigger with her father Cooper. Adult Murph complains in a video message to Cooper that she now has the same age as when he left, and Cooper hasn't returned. The characters being in the mid-30s is logical, but while Jessica Chastain was 36, Matthew McConaughey is 8 years older than her.
  • In the Heart of the Sea has a 59-year-old Brendan Gleeson playing a 44-year-old Thomas Nickerson and a 17-year-old Tom Holland playing 14-year-old Thomas Nickerson.
  • Inverted in Into the Storm (2009). Brendan Gleeson is far younger than Winston Churchill was, so the makeup team had to age him up a bit.
  • In the 1990 film adaptation of Stephen King's It, 16-year-old Seth Green, who had reached, or was close to his adult height of 5'3" at that time, played Richie Tozier, one of the tallest in a group of 12-year-old outcasts called the Loser's Club. 17-year-old Jarred Blancard played bully Henry Bowers, who is presumably a year or two older than Richie and the rest of the Loser's Club.
  • Almost every live-action adaptation of Jane Eyre. Jane is supposed to be 19 when she starts working for Mr. Rochester, yet she has been played by: 28-year-old Susannah York (1970 film), 23-year-old Sorcha Cusack (1973 miniseries), 28-year-old Zelah Clarke (1983 miniseries), 24-year-old Charlotte Gainsbourg (1996 film), and 25-year-old Ruth Wilson (2006 tv miniseries).
  • Jawbreaker — Some high school girls accidentally kill another high school girl during a high school prank. Starring 24-year-old Judy Greer, 26-year-old Rose McGowan, 27-year-old Julie Benz, and 28-year-old Rebecca Gayheart.
  • In the 1974 Werner Herzog film Jeder für sich und Gott gegen alle (also known as The enigma of Kaspar Hauser), the lead role of about-16-year-old Kaspar Hauser was played by 41-year-old street musician Bruno S. Herzog has commented that he was chosen for the role because his life had parallels with that of the historical Kaspar Hauser, and also because he gave the impression of being outsider to society at large, one that was a stranger to his own body.
  • In her first two movies Jessica Chastain played teenagers - the title character in a filmed version of the stage play Salome, and the title character in her first movie to be released (Jolene) who goes from 15 to 25. She was in her very, very early 30s when she made them.
  • Johnny Be Good — 20-year-old Anthony Michael Hall and 24-year-old Robert Downey, Jr. as high school seniors.
  • Justin Long made a career throughout his 20's, of playing almost exclusively characters a good 10+ years younger than he is. He can make it work though, since he has a rather youthful face. He pretty much stopped once he turned 30.
  • Ralph Macchio was in his early twenties when he first played the 17-year-old Daniel La Russo in The Karate Kid. By the time the third movie came out, Macchio was still playing teen-aged Daniel despite being in his late twenties. (His boyish good looks and the fact that his voice remained in a higher register after breaking helped.)
  • In the movie Keith done in 2008, Elisabeth Harnois played a 17 year old although she was about 29. Her co-star Jesse Mc Cartney was only 21, also playing a 17 year old.
  • Kick-Ass - All the high schoolers are played by people in their 20s. They are brought back for the sequel several years later, still as high schoolers, with the exception of Evan Peters, who was replaced by Augustus Prew, who was born in the same year. The oldest among them would be 28-year-old Clark Duke.
  • Kidulthood stars Noel Clarke, who was 29 when playing the 18-year-old leading man Sam. At 32, Clarke returned to play a 24-year-old Sam in the sequel Adulthood.
  • Killer Joe casts 22-year-old Juno Temple as the adolescent Dottie. However it is very justified as 1) it plays into Dottie's character as a young girl who is trying to be older than she is while also being very childlike, 2) Temple looks young for her age and 3) there is absolutely no way in hell that an actual child actress or teen actress would be allowed to film some of the scenes required in this movie.
  • A Killing Secret stars 28-year-old Ari Meyers as a high school student.
  • Kundo Age Of The Rampant:
    • 36-year-old Ha Jung-woo plays Dolchi from the ages of 18-20. One scene has his sister telling children that he's only several years older than them.
    • 43-year-old Ma Dong-seok plays Tianbao from the ages of 20-22.
  • La Bamba 17-year-old Ritchie Valens (24-year-old Lou Diamond Phillips) is a normal high school student who becomes a rock 'n' roll superstar. He meets and falls in love with fellow high school student Donna Ludwig (22-year-old Danielle von Zerneck).
  • The Langoliers, from 1995. Kimber Riddle, born 1966, as rebellious Bethany Simms. Christopher Collet, born 1968, as nerdy Albert "Ace" Kaussner.
  • Jackson Rathbone age 25 plays 15-year-old Sokka (at least in the series) in The Last Airbender.
  • Randy Quaid was 23 when The Last Detail was made. It is never specifically stated how old his character is, but he isn't old enough to drink.
  • Last Exit to Brooklyn - 21-year-old Ricki Lake as Donna, an unmmaried teen mother.
  • The Last Starfighter — 24-year-old Lance Guest and 25-year-old Catherine Mary Stewart as a teen couple. Their group of friends are in their mid-twenties, as well, but the only one with a real speaking part was 25-year-old Peter Nelson as Jack Blake (the obnoxious guy in the cowboy hat).
  • The 1981 Italian zombie flick Le Notti del terrore (US title: Burial Ground: The Nights of Terror) has a disturbing example with a then 25-year-old midget (Peter Bark) playing a 10-year-old child with a serious mother fixation. He not only doesn't look like a child at all, but was cast apparently so they could have a scene where the zombified child comes back to see his mother, who offers him a bare breast and is killed when he starts chewing the nipple off. Ew.
  • Leather Jacket Love Story: 25-year-old Sean Tataryn as 18-year-old Kyle.
  • Lemora: A Child's Tale of the Supernatural — 13-year-old Lila Lee is played by 18-year-old Cheryl "Rainbeaux" Smith.
  • Les Misérables (2012): Amanda Seyfried and Samantha Barks; their characters Cosette and Eponine are supposed to be in their late teens. Same can also be said for Aaron Tveit, who is nearly 30 when Enjolras is said to be in his mid-20s at most.
  • Liar Liar - 9-year-old Justin Cooper as 4-year-old Max Reede.
  • The Life Before Her Eyes — 19-year-old Evan Rachel Wood and 22-year-old Eva Amurri as high school students. Also of note, Uma Thurman, in her late 30s, playing a character in her early 30s.
  • On the far end of the trope is 66 year-old Sally Field playing the twenty-years younger Mary Todd Lincoln in Lincoln.
  • The 2012 sexually explicit mainstream German film Little Thirteen features 18-year-old Muriel Wimmer in the lead role. The title of the film is your first clue as to why this trope applies.
  • A particularly ironic example is Logan's Run in which the film's hook is that it's about a society where people are killed once they reach 30. Predictably, much of the cast were well into their thirties and looked it as well.
  • Any adaptation of Lolita. Justified in that Vladimir Nabokov insisted that this be done for any adaptation of his book on the grounds that it would be cruel to make such a young actress even pretend to go through what Lolita went through.
  • The satirical 1966 film Lord Love a Duck has high-schoolers played by 23-year-old Tuesday Weld and 38-year-old Roddy McDowall.
  • The Lonely Lady: Pia Zadora and Ray Liotta, both 29 at the time, start off the film as a High School students. It's not clear how old Zadora's character is meant to be by the end of the film, though.
  • In The Lost Boys 21-year-old Jason Patric played 16-year-old Michael, and 15-year-olds Corey Haim and Corey Feldman played 12-year-olds.
  • The Double 0 Kid (1992) - 21-year-olds Corey Haim and Nicole Eggbert portray teens playing having a cloak-and-dagger cat-and-mouse game with terrorists.
  • Oh, What a Night (1992) - 21-year-old Corey Haim plays a teen in this coming-of-age period piece.
  • Blown Away (1992) - 21-year-olds Corey Haim, Nicole Eggbert, and Corey Feldman portray teens in this crime drama / erotic thriller.
  • Just One of the Girls (1993) - 22-year-olds Corey Haim and Nicole Eggbert portray teens in this cross-dressing romance. 26-year-old Cameron Bancroft plays a high school bully.
  • Demolition High (1996) - 25-year-old teen Corey Haim unites with fellow students against terrorists.
    • Demolition University (1997) - 26-year-old teen Corey Haim unites with fellow students against terrorists.
  • In perhaps one of the most extreme examples of this trope, The Lovely Bones cast 22-year-old Rose McIver as the character of Lindsey Salmon, who is supposed to be a 13-year-old girl. The incongruity was made even worse by the fact that the character of Susie Salmon, who is Lindsey's 14-year-old sister, went to 15-year-old Saoirse Ronan, who actually looked like she was about the right age — so the audience was treated to a 22-year-old playing the younger sister of an obviously-younger 15-year-old. This lead to widespread confusion among audience members as to which sister was supposed to be older. Justified, though, as the movie starts out with Susie being murdered and the rest is all Posthumous Narration. Most of the scenes with Lindsey in them take place a few years later, and since Lindsey was only a year younger than her sister to begin with, she's already passed Susie's terminal age.
  • The Maltese Falcon features 38-year-old Elisha Cook Jr. as the "boy" Wilmer, who is described as "about twenty."
  • The Sci Fi Channel movie called Mammoth, featuring 25-year-old Summer Glau as a teen girl.
  • Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom - 40-year-old Idris Elba portrays Nelson Mandela from age 24 onward.
  • Anna Paquin was roughly 23 when she played a seventeen-year-old in Margaret. Due to the film going through a lengthy period of The Shelf of Movie Languishment, she was 29 when it was finally released in 2011.
  • Both played straight and averted in the animated movie Mars Needs Moms. When it was released in 2011, Seth Green, who did the motion capture for 9-year-old Milo, was 37. He was originally slated to voice the character as well, but the creators realized he sounded too mature for a kid, and had him dubbed over by 11-year-old Seth Dusky.
  • In Peter Bogdanovich's Mask, the then-24-year-old Eric Stoltz played the 15- to 16-year-old Rocky Dennis. Granted, with all the makeup he had to wear to deform his face, it's less noticeable. Somewhat averted with Laura Dern, who was about 18 around the time it was filmed.
  • Played With in Matchstick Men. Alison Lohman plays an adolescent girl a number of years younger than her actual age, but it turns out that she's actually a lot older than she had claimed. Lohman played a teenaged girl in Flicka when she was 25.
  • Despite playing teen characters, all the actors in The Maze Runner Series are in their twenties.
  • Mean Girls had 25-year-old Rachel McAdams and 21-year-old Lacey Chabert and Lizzy Caplan playing High School Juniors. On the other hand, Amanda Seyfried and Lindsay Lohan, both also playing 16-year-olds, were 18 years old and 17 years old respectively. Amy Poehler, who played McAdams' character's mother, is only six years older than she is. In the sequel, the principal cast who played Jo, Mandi, Hope, Chastity, and their boyfriends… all in their 20s. The exception would be the actress who plays Abby, Jennifer Stone, was 18. However, this is still part of the trope in that they show a flashback to Jennifer Stone playing Abby in junior high when Abby was around 13 years old.
  • Melody (S.W.A.L.K.) - Jack Wild plays a character of no more than 11 almost entirely believably despite being 17 at the time of filming. Wild was notoriously short and boyishly cute with a childish voice throughout his teens, and easily played as a 13-year-old in Flight of the Doves the same year.
  • Men in Black 3 — Agent J travels from 2012 to 1969, 43 years into the past. He wakes up and sees a young Agent K, played by Josh Brolin. Brolin is only 21 years and 5 months younger than Tommy Lee Jones, who plays the older Agent K.
    Agent J: "You got some city miles on you."
  • In the 1962 film version of The Miracle Worker, which tells the story of how Helen Keller (left blind and deaf following a near fatal illness in early childhood) was taught to communicate via her sense of touch, Helen is played by 15-year-old Patty Duke. In real life, Helen was not quite 7 years old at the time the events depicted in the film took place.
    • Happens again in the 1979 TV movie, which has another 15-year-old, Melissa Gilbert, playing Helen
    • Averted in the Disney TV movie from 2000, where Helen is played by 8-year-old Hallie Kate Eisenberg.
  • MirrorMask — 15-year-old Helena Campbell is played by 20-year-old Stephanie Leonidas.
  • Moonlight has two actors playing "Teen Chiron" and "Adult Chiron" ... though they are both in their 20s.
  • The casting of Moonstruck is all over the place in terms of age. Cher was a 42-year-old playing a 37-year-old (not a stretch). Danny Aiello was 54, playing a 42-year-old. Nicolas Cage was just 23, and although the age of his character is never mentioned outright in the film, the plot (involving his romance with Cher's character) just wouldn't make much sense unless we assume he's significantly older, at least mid-30ish.
  • The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, is very guilty of this, casting actors in their mid-to-late-twenties as the teenage main characters. The main protagonists Clary (15) and Jace (17) are being played by Lily Collins and Jamie Campbell Bower, both of whom are 23. Isabelle (16) and Simon (also 16) are being portrayed by 24-year-old actors Jemima West and Robert Sheehan, while most notoriously Alec (18) is being played by 27-year-old Kevin Zegers. That said, the producer has revealed that although they won't be specifying anyone's exact age in the movie, the characters are supposed to be somewhat older than their book counterparts. To make matters even more mind-boggling, the character of Luke (who is pushing forty, and acts as a surrogate father to the kids) is being played by the 28-year-old Aidan Turner.
  • Mr. Holland's Opus — Rowena, the high school senior who tempts Mr. Holland because she's intellectually mature and looks older than her years? She looks mature for her age because she was played by 23-year-old Jean Louisa Kelly. The baby-faced 13-year-old freshman clarinet player who later becomes governor? Played by 20-year-old Alicia Witt.
  • Tim Roth played a 19-year-old serial killer in a TV movie ''Murder in the Heartland". He was 33 when it aired. Being short and thin probably helped but couldn't fully cover the age difference.
  • In My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Nia Vardalos was 39-40 at the time she filmed the movie, where her character was only 30.
  • My Boyfriend's Back - 23-year-old Andrew Lowery and 25-year-old Traci Lind as teens.
  • In the film adaptation of My Fair Lady, Audrey Hepburn was 34 years old while playing the 21-year-old Eliza Doolittle.
  • In My Left Foot 32-year-old Daniel Day-Lewis is playing a 17-year-old teenager.
  • My Science Project from 1985. All the teens are clearly in their 20s, starring Michael Harlan, born in 1961.
  • To an extent in Mystery Team. Granted, the characters are 18, so it's far less noticeable.
  • In Gregg Araki's Mysterious Skin, 23-year-old Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays a teenager.
  • In the 2007 movie The Namesake, based on the book by Jhumpa Lahiri, Kal Penn is Gogol/Nikhil in high school (as well as throughout his life). Kal Penn is 32, and he is only 7 years younger than the actress playing his mother (Tabu). Also, Moushumi Mazumdar is played by Zuleikha Robinson when Moushumi is in high school and in her 30s, but Robinson seems to pull it off better.
  • Sacha Guitry's Napoleon has this and the inverse with the titular character. 33-year-old Daniel Gélin plays Bonaparte from his mid-teens to his early 30s, at which point 29-year-old Raymond Pellegrin takes over, that is, from Napoleon's 30s to his death in his 50s.
  • Abel Gance's Napoléon also inverts this with the title character: Albert Dieudonné is 38 and plays Bonaparte in his early to mid 20s.
  • In Napoleon Dynamite, 26-year old Jon Heder, 30-year old Efren Ramirez, and 25-year old Trevor Snarr all played high school students. Most of the other cast members were teenagers, though.
  • National Lampoon's Joy of Sex (1984) 22-year-old Michelle Meyrink and 25-year-old Cameron Dye as teens.
  • Neighbors, from 1981, has 20-year-old Lauren-Marie Taylor as the 16-year-old daughter of 32-year-old John Belushi.
  • In Never Been Kissed. Drew Barrymore plays a 25-year-old who is pretending to be a high school student, and no one thinks she looks too old. In real life, Barrymore was 23 for the duration of filming. David Arquette, who plays her younger brother, is actually four years older than her. Averted with at least two of her fellow students — Leelee Sobieski and Jessica Alba were 15 and 17 respectively when the film was made.
  • The Neverending Story: The Childlike Empress, immortal and described in the book as looking no more than 10 years of age, is played by 21-year-old Julie Cox in the 3rd movie, and Ms. Cox is credited as "The Empress."
  • The New Guy — 22-year-old Eliza Dushku and 24-year-old DJ Qualls as teens.
  • Night of the Comet - 25-year-old Catherine Mary Stewart as 18-year-old Reggie. 24-year-old Kelli Maroney as 16-year-old Sam.
  • A Nightmare on Elm Street is hard pressed to find a single genuine teen or high-school-aged actor in the series:
  • Not Another Teen Movie has a mostly 20-something cast playing teens, and also lampshaded with an elderly woman as an undercover reporter pretending to be a student.
  • Lucy Tyler was 22 when she filmed the movie "'80s Superstars Reborn" playing the role of Traci from 15 to 18.
  • Nowhere (1996) by Gregg Araki — Mena Suvari and Joshua Gibran Mayweather were both teens, but the rest were between 20 and 40 years old
  • Natural Born Killers - 21-year-old Juliette Lewis as teenaged Mallory Knox.
    • 26-year-old Ashley Judd as 18-year-old Grace Mulberry in a deleted scene.
  • From Dusk Till Dawn - 23-year-old Juliette Lewis as teenaged Kate Fuller
  • The Other Sister - 26-year-old Juliette Lewis as 18-year-old Carla Tate.
  • The Outfit: Notorious gangster Dutch Schultz, who died at age 33, is played by 53-year-old Lance Henriksen. Lucky Luciano, who would have been in his 30s at the time the movie takes place, is played by 48-year-old Billy Drago.
  • The 1983 film version of SE Hinton's The Outsiders cast a then 31-year-old Patrick Swayze to play the protagonist's 20-year-old elder brother.
  • Sometimes the whole point of a character is that it is a child being played by an adult:
    • Pee-wee Herman is an ambiguous man-child who is always referred to as a "boy" but is played by the obviously adult Paul Reubens. In the live Pee-wee Herman Show performed with the Groundlings, as well as Peewees Big Adventure, Pee-wee has a number of friends who are also adults playing children.
    • In Clifford, the 43-year-old Martin Short plays the 10-year-old Clifford. Forced perspective, body doubles, and oversized props serve to make the character look child-sized.
  • In Peggy Sue Got Married 32-year-old Kathleen Turner plays 40-year-old Peggy Sue. So far, so good. Peggy Sue is then transported back to her senior year of high school, and Turner also plays the 18-year-old version of Peggy Sue.
  • The People vs. Larry FlyntCourtney Love portrays Althea. Althea is 17 years old at the beginning, and Larry just can't believe that she's a day over 18. Courtney Love was 31 and looks it.
  • Percy Jackson and the Olympians had the titular character's sidekicks fall under this even after bumping their age up from the novels. In the book, Annabeth is 13, while in the movie she's 16, and actress Alexandria Daddario was 24 at the time of filming. Similarly, Brandon T. Jackson was 25 also playing a high schooler. This is even more jarring considering that in their most prominent roles coming into the film, they were already playing adults: Daddario in White Collar and Jackson in Tropic Thunder. This trope will be very present in the sequel, which was filmed three years later with the same leads.
    • Justified in Grover's case, as he is said to look older than the others (he has a goatee in the first book already) and is in fact 24, although since satyrs age half as fast as humans, he is the equivalent of a human 12-year-old.
  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower tells the story of a shy 13-year-old high school freshman being befriended by a bunch of 17-year-old seniors. Given how implausible this is, Dawson Casting actually makes the story more believable.
  • Phantasm II - 26-year-old James Le Gros as 19-year-old Mike Pearson
  • In The Phantom Tollbooth 16-year-old Butch Patrick played 12-year-old Milo.
  • Pirates of Silicon Valley — 27-year-old Noah Wyle and 31-year-old Anthony Michael Hall as teenaged Steve Jobs and Bill Gates.
  • In Pitch Perfect, about college a cappella groups, the characters are supposed to be college age, from 18 to 22. However, most of the cast was 25 and older. In fact, Anna Camp (Aubrey) was 30.
  • Pleasantville has 22-year-old Reese Witherspoon, 23-year-old Tobey Maguire, 25-year-old Paul Walker, and others, as high school teens.
  • In the 1920 silent film Pollyanna, 27-year-old Mary Pickford plays a 12-year-old girl.
    • Pickford was famous during much of her career for playing child characters: cf. The Poor Little Rich Girl, Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, Through the Back Door, Little Lord Fauntleroy (in which she played a 10-year-old boy), and Daddy-Long-Legs (in which the first half of the movie has no parallel in the book, but was invented purely so she could play the character as a child).
    • Famous for pulling it off, too. In Sparrows, she is 34, but she plays a young teenager. Her co-stars for most of the film are children ranging from about age six to age 10, so if she were obviously much older, it would show up in contrast to the real children, but it doesn't.
  • In Broken Blossoms, 26-year-old Lillian Gish plays 15-year-old Lucy Burrows.
  • In Poltergeist, Dominique Dunne was 23, playing 16-year-old Dana.
  • Porky's, probably the prototypical teen sex farce, featured an entire cast over 20 playing high school students, so that it could actually show nudity.
  • This trope is constantly invoked in porno films: Any actress that qualifies as flat chested is usually cast as a "teenager", even if they've looked like they've popped a couple of kids or have been traveling the strip club circuit for a bit too long. Infamous director Max Hardcore made a cottage industry of hiring short/flat chested actresses, dressing them in toddler clothes, and filming the scenes as if he were making some sort of underground child porn video.
  • Portrait of Jennie: When introduced, the titular character is about 13 and played by a 29-year-old Jennifer Jones.
  • The Poughkeepsie Tapes — 35-year-old Stacy Chbosky as 19-year-old Cheryl Dempsey. Cheryl is the Final Girl of the film, and her age is carefully handled in that the view of Cheryl at the beginning is shown only through the shaky, grainy, damaged footage of the killer's Jitter Cam, so she's hard to see. After a few dark, far-away shots, Cheryl/Stacy wears a mask for 8 years before we see her face again, which is probably aged from stress and malnutrition, plus that Chbosky looks sort of young for 35.
  • Powder: The title character is played by Sean Patrick Flanery at age 30. However, in a sort of subversion, he's actually passable as a teenager even so. Maybe partially because he's shaved bald for the part of Powder, it makes it harder to judge age.
  • None of the actors in Power Rangers (2017) were actually in high school; Becky G (Trini) was 19, RJ Cyler (Billy) and Dacre Montgomery (Jason) were 21, Naomi Scott (Kimberly) was 23, and, most egregiously, Ludi Lin (Zack) was 28, and pushing 30 by the time the movie was out. Though, it wasn't as noticeable as the show due to the way the characters were portrayed.
    • Also helped that Ludi Lin does not look like he's pushing 30. He even mentioned in an interview shortly after the film's release that when he visited his old high school to observe in an attempt to get an idea of how to portray Zack, he managed to, successfully, convince a group of kids to show him around by posing as a transfer student. It wasn't until one of his old teachers asked him why he was there that anybody noticed that he wasn't really a student.
  • In Precious 16-year-old Precious Jones is played by 26-year-old Gabourey Sidibe. Not quite that obvious because of the way she was dressed and the fact that Sidibe does not look her age.
  • Pride and Prejudice:
    • The BBC adaptation from 1995 included Julia Sawalha (then in her late twenties) as 15-year-old Lydia Bennet. (Fortunately, Sawalha had not only the chops but the face to pull it off.)
    • The 1940 adaptation plays this trope straight. 36-year-olds Laurence Olivier and Greer Garson played 28-year-old Mr. Darcy and 20-year-old Lizzie respectively.
  • Howard Stern in his film Private Parts played an 18-year-old version of himself... He was 42 at the time. The incongruity is extremely obvious when we first see him walking around campus, and Stern (as a narrator) comments that "for this movie you've got to suspend disbelief."
  • The Prom Night franchise.
    • The original Prom Night (1980) had 20-year-old Jamie Lee Curtis (Kim), 21-year-old Anne-Marie Martin (Wendy), and 23-year-old Jeff Wincott (Drew), alongside a bunch of other 20-something actors who's exact birth dates are unknown. David Mucci as Lou was especially jarring, and Joy Thompson (who played Jude) mentioned how surreal it was to walk down a high school hallway again.
    • Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II had 30-year-old Lisa Schrage (Mary Lou), 21-year-old Louis Ferreira (Craig), and 29-year-old Terri Hawkes (Kelly), alongside Wendy Lyon (Vicki) and Beverly Hendry (Monica), who would've definitely had to be legal adults to film some of the content. Also, many viewers laugh at the flashbacks with the younger Billy Nordon (played by Steve Atkinson), who already had a receding hairline. Averted with 18-year-old Brock Simpson (Josh).
    • Prom Night III: The Last Kiss has 23-year-old Cynthia Preston (Sarah), 22-year-old Dylan Neal (Andrew), and 25-year-old Jeremy Ratchford (Leonard). As the writer / co-director, Ron Oliver, said, "While I love Tim [Conlon, as Alex] and David [Stratton, as Shane] and Courtney [Taylor, as Mary Lou] and all of them, and think they did very well given what I saddled them with, I think I made a huge mistake in not casting 18-year-olds versus almost-30-year-olds. It just feels off. But live and learn."
    • Prom Night IV: Deliver Us From Evil had 22-year-old Nicole de Boer (Megan), 24-year-old J.H. Wyman (Mark), 26-year-old Joy Tanner (Laura), and 21-year-old Colin D. Simpson (Larry). Averted with 18-year-old Fab Filippo (Jonathan).
    • In Prom Night (2008), Brittany Snow (Donna), Jessica Stroup (Claire), and Collins Pennie (Ronnie) were 22, Kelly Blatz (Michael) was 20, Jana Cramer (April) was 24, Brianne Davis (Crissy) was 26, Scott Porter (Bobby) was 28, and Dana Davis (Lisa) was 29, all playing high school seniors.
  • Richard Wilson was 21 when he played Mikey in The Proposition, who is implied to be about 14.
  • Johnny Depp was 46 when he starred as John Dillinger in Public Enemies. The real John Dillinger was killed at the ripe old age of 31.
  • 20-year-old Sally Thomsett played 11-year-old Phyllis in The Railway Children, and was forbidden by contract to reveal her age during the making of the film.
  • The 1956 film adaptation of the stage play The Rainmaker featured a 49-year old Katharine Hepburn playing a woman who is supposedly only in her late 20s or early 30s yet is considered undesirable because she is "plain" (often delivered with a viciousness suggesting that what the other characters really mean is ugly — even though it's Katharine Hepburn, even a middle aged Katharine Hepburn) and thus doomed to never start a family of her own (and technically Hepburn was too old to have kids safely by that point in real life). This is blatantly, almost laughably obvious in the scenes with her family, where she is clearly old enough to be the wife of the actor playing her father and clearly older than Lloyd Bridges, who played her "big brother" and just makes her performance feel bizarre rather than sympathetic as she tries to play a part she was clearly too old for.
  • The 19-year-old title character in Rambling Rose was played by 24-at-the-time Laura Dern.
  • Reanimator: Both Jeffrey Combs and Bruce Abbott were 31-year-olds playing medical school students, though it is unclear just exactly how old their characters are supposed to be.
  • The original Red Dawn (1984): Charlie Sheen and Patrick Swayze are cast as teenage brothers. Sheen was 18 at the time, but Swayze was 29!
  • Red State, filmed in 2010, is about three high school boys who travel to meet a woman and get more than they bargained for. The boys include Billy Ray (22-year-old Nicholas Braun), Travis (23-year-old Michael Angarano), and Jared (24-year-old Kyle Gallner). The woman they travel to meet, 38-year-old Sarah Cooper, is played by 50-year-old Melissa Leo.
  • In the 1986 Girls Behind Bars parody flick Reform School Girls, Wendy O. Williams of the Plasmatics plays a character ostensibly a teen despite being an undisguised 36.
  • La Reine Margot stars Isabelle Adjani and Daniel Auteuil, who were 40 when they played a queen and king who were historically 19. Auteuil shows his age, but many have expressed surprise that Adjani was any older than her twenties.
  • In Remember the Titans, most of the actors playing the 16- to 18-year-old high school football players were well into their twenties, and Wood Harris was 31, a year older than the actress who played the wife of Denzel Washington. However, Ryan Gosling as one of the players was about 19 and Kate Bosworth as the girlfriend of one of the players was 17.
  • Riding in Cars with Boys features 26-year-old Drew Barrymore as 15-year-old Beverly. Beverly's best friend is played by 24-year-old Brittany Murphy, Beverly's boyfriend is played by 34-year-old Steve Zahn. The movie spans from when teen Beverly gives birth to a baby boy named Jason, until Jason grows up to be a teenager himself, played by 28-year-old Adam Garcia.
  • George Mather was 42 when he portrayed 22-year-old college student Lewis B. Moffet in Ring of Terror. Most of the cast catches grief from Joel and the bots for looking too old for their roles.
  • Any movie that River Phoenix made after 1989.
  • In Rob B Hood, Jackie Chan, who was 52 years old in 2006, nevertheless plays a professional burglar with family problems who ends up having to care for a baby for several days. He engages in his usual acrobatic and martial arts stunts alongside his co-star Louis Koo, who plays Chan's character's partner-in-crime, who is 16 years younger than Chan.
    • In Drunken Master Two, he played the same character at the same age as the original Drunken Master despite being the same age as the man who played his father.
  • In Rock N Roll High School, almost all the "teen" actors are, at the youngest, in their mid twenties. (An exception was Loren Lester, who was actually of high-school age during the time of filming.) The main character, Riff, was played by 29-year-old P.J. Soles. The sequel Rock 'n' Roll High School Forever also features a teen cast of twenty somethings.
  • Romeo and Juliet: Juliet is explicitly said to be 13, and Romeo is repeatedly called a "youth," so he's probably not much older. Mercutio is a good friend, so he's probably a comparable age to Romeo. Examples of noticeably older actors taking the roles:
    • Leslie Howard, at 43, played Romeo in a 1936 version and Juliet was played by 34-year-old Norma Shearer). Even more geriatric was John Barrymore, Sr. as Mercutio, who was fifty-four at the time.
    • At the time of filming of the 1968 Franco Zeffirelli film, Olivia Hussey and Leonard Whiting were 15 and 17 respectively. This was considered a radical innovation at the time, and much of the film's success was due to the stars' very believable youthful passion. Ironically Olivia Hussey wasn't allowed to attend the debut of the film because the film had nudity and she was too young. It was her own nudity that she was prevented from seeing.
    • In the 1996 movie, William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet, Claire Danes (playing the 13-year-old Juliet) was actually sixteen. They almost averted this trope, as Natalie Portman (aged 14) had been initially cast in the role. However, during rehearsals it was thought that she looked too young, and the part was recast.
  • Romy and Michele's High School Reunion: Mira Sorvino (29) and Lisa Kudrow (33) play their teen selves in flashback scenes, as well as their peers, such as Janeane Garofalo, who was also 33.
  • The Room: Denny, the youngest character in the movie (who is said to be starting college, but it's never made clear), was played by Philip Haldiman, one of the oldest members of the cast.
  • The Roommate is pretty bad. Minka Kelly, born in 1980 and Leighton Meester, born in 1986, play college freshmen. Freshmen born during the setting of this film would have been born in 1992.
  • Rudy (1993) - The film starts off with 22-year-old Sean Astin and 30-year-old Lili Taylor as teens in a high school class.
  • Used distractingly in Running With Scissors, in which the audience is expected to believe that 20-year-old Joseph Cross is Augusten Burroughs at as young an age as about 13. Evan Rachel Wood's character is supposed to be of a similar age, and she's no more convincing. Considering that neither of them look nor act at all like middle schoolers, what age they're supposed to be is straight-up confusing — and then surprising, once Augusten is stated late in the film to be fourteen.
  • Save the Last Dance: the leading male was in his 30s playing a high-school senior (somewhat convincingly.)
  • Say Anything... - 23-year-old John Cusack and 26-year-old Lili Taylor as high school students going into the summer immediately after graduation.
  • Parodied in Scary Movie. In a "If this were a movie" conversation, one character says "We'd be played by actors in their late 20s/early 30s". The characters then pause for a moment, letting the phrase sink in.
  • A minor example from School of Rock: while all the kids were around the right age (Miranda Cosgrove was only 9), Kevin Clark, who plays Freddie Jones, was pushing 14 — as his husky, cracking voice leads the viewer to suspect.
  • Scott Pilgrim plays this trope straight with Knives Chau (17) and Stacie Pilgrim (19), both are played by actresses who are (or almost) 25. Making both older than Michael Cera, who is 22. note  "Young" Neil (20) is a borderline case; his actor is nearly 24. The rest of the cast largely averts this, if their ages are known.
  • The first film in the Scream series stars an entire cast of mid-20s actors playing 17-year-old students. Neve Campbell and Rose McGowan at 23, Skeet Ulrich, Jamie Kennedy and Matthew Lillard at 26 (older than David Arquette, who plays the 25-year-old deputy Dewey), Drew Barrymore being closest to her characters age at 21 years old. Although considering the satiric nature of the film this was probably intentional.
    • The first sequel continues this with Elise Neal as a college student, playing a contemporary of Neve Campbell at the age of 31. Also played straight with 29-year-old Timothy Olyphant as Mickey, also a college student with Campbell's character Sidney.
    • The third sequel has a rare aversion with Emma Roberts (who though 20 by the time of its release was 19 during filming), although played straight with Hayden Panettiere (who celebrated her 21st birthday during filming — though she averts this trope elsewhere on this page) and the rest of the cast with 21-year-olds Rory Culkin, Marielle Jaffe, and Lucy Hale, as well as 20-year-olds Aimee Teegarden and Shenae Grimes.
  • Both inverted and played straight in Scrooge, where both the elder Scrooge and his young self were played by Albert Finney, then in his early 30s.
  • Searching For Sonny is about a ten-year reunion, but all the actors play both their present-day selves and the flashbacks to their high school days. Masi Oka, who plays title character Sonny, was 37 at the time of filming and managed to pass for both 28 and a teenager.
  • Selma Blair was subject to this a lot.
    • Can't Hardly Wait featured many old teens, especially Selma Blair at age 26.
    • Debutante — 26-year-old Blair plays a 17-year-old.
    • Girl (1998) — 26-year-old Blair plays bookish high school senior Darcy.
    • Cruel Intentions — All of the actors are well out of their teens, especially Blair at age 27 who is supposedly younger than the other characters and has Never Been Kissed.
    • Legally Blonde — 30-year-old Selma Blair plays a college student.
    • For more, see the Television section.
  • Serial Mom — 26-year-old Ricki Lake and 24-year-old Matthew Lillard as the teen children of a serial mom.
  • Sextette: It's painfully obvious that 85-year-old Mae West is trying to pass herself off as someone about half a century younger.
  • She Fought Alone, stars 22-year-old Brian Austin Green and 21-year-old Tiffani Amber Thiessen as high school kids.
  • The Shining — 5-year-old Danny Torrence is played by a 7-year-old in the 1980 version, and a 10-year-old in the 1997 version.
  • Also done in the similar spoof Shriek if You Know What I Did Last Friday the Thirteenth, although never addressed.
  • Sid and Nancy: 28-year-old Gary Oldman as Sid Vicious, who died at age 21. 30-year-old Chloe Webb as Nancy Spungen, who died at age 20.
  • In Sin City 24-year-old Jessica Alba (who otherwise generally avoids this trope) played 19-year-old Nancy Callahan.
  • Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit: Nuns help some wayward youths, and while most of the youths avert this trope, there's still a couple of 20-something-year-old teens played by Devin Kamin and Ron Johnson.
  • Slaughter High, a slasher movie from 1986, is about a group of high schoolers (probably seniors, supposedly 17 or 18) whose prank on a nerd goes bad. Cut to a supposed high school reunion where they get picked off one by one. The usual high school reunion is 10 years later (supposedly when they're 27 or 28). One would think that they'd find actors at the halfway point, maybe 22 years of age. Instead, they have Frank, played by 29-year-old Billy Hartman; Marty, played by 30-year-old Simon Scuddamore; and Carol, played by 37-year-old Caroline Munro... more like second high school reunion, Am I Right?
  • Mostly averted in the original Sleepaway Camp, but for the rest of the series, some of the teens are pre-teens, some of the teens are teens, some are teens are 20-something, and one is undercover: Angela is pretending to be a teen camper in Teenage Wasteland, and making up various excuses for why she looks old. Some of the excuses are funny, such as mentioning the fluoride in her drinking water, and some are sad, such as when a guy says that she doesn't look like a teen, she must have had a hard life, to which she agrees.
    • A classic example would be Jill Terashita, who played biker chick Arab in the third film — she was about 25 at the time of the film, just a couple years younger than Pamela Springsteen, who played Angela in Sleepaway Camp II and III.
  • The trope comes into play in Sleepers when the narrative jumps from 1967 to 1983. Nobody besides the four boys is played by a different actor and no effort was made to make the other actors appear older.
  • The Slumber Party Massacre franchise features nothing but 20-somethings as high school students.
  • Harold Perrineau was 32 when he played 17 year old Thomas in Smoke (1995). Oddly, he was only two years younger than Forest Whitaker who plays his father.
  • Snow Day has 24-year old Emanuelle Chriqui and 27-year old David Paetkau play high school students Claire Bonner and Chuck Wheeler. However, Mark Webber, Schuyler Fisk, and J Adam Brown were all in their teens when they made this movie.
  • Snowden (2016) - As the title card states, "The following is a dramatization of actual events that occurred between 2004 and 2013." He starts off as a freshman in college. At the end, Edward Snowden is stated to be 29, making him 20 at the beginning. Filmed in 2015 when Joseph Gordon-Levitt was around 34.
  • Some Kind of Beautiful casts Malcolm McDowell (born in 1943) and Pierce Brosnan (born in 1953) as father and son.
  • Some Kind of Wonderful features a cast of 20-somethings as high school students, most around the age of 26.
  • In Space Camp, the teenage members of the Blue Team were all in their low- to mid-20s. During filming, Lea Thompson and Larry B. Scott were both 24. Tate Donovan was 23, and Kelly Preston was 22. Averted with Joaquin (Leaf) Phoenix; he was only 10, and likely younger than the character he was playing.
  • Spider-Man:
    • Tobey Maguire and James Franco were about 26 and 23, respectively, playing high school seniors.
    • Cliff Robertson, who played Uncle Ben, was nearly 80 at the time of the first film. Rosemary Harris, who played Aunt May, was 75 in the first film and 80 by the third film. While it's never said exactly how old they are supposed to be, it seems unlikely that they would be around 60 years older than Peter, their nephew.
  • The Amazing Spider-Man:
    • Andrew Garfield, who portrays the character in the 2012 reboot film, is 27 playing a high school student. (the uncle difference is kinda there too, as Martin Sheen was 71 and Sally Field, 65)
    • The movie also has 22-year-old Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy, Peter's classmate and love interest.
    • 27-year-old Chris Zylka played high school student Flash Thompson.
    • The sequel has 27-year-old Dane DeHaan as Harry Osborn, who is around the same age as Peter and Gwen.
  • The third Spider-Man, Tom Holland, is a lesser case, being a 19 year old playing a 15 year old high school freshman. Meanwhile, Aunt May again got a decade younger, being played by 50 year old Marisa Tomei.
  • Stand and Deliver features a 25-year-old Lou Diamond Phillips playing a high school senior.
  • The 1974 Soviet movie "Скворец и лира" ("The Starling and the Lyre"), featured Lyubov Orlova as a supposedly young character. Of course, no amount of tricks managed to get the 70+ actress to look the part, so the movie was nicknamed "Склероз и климакс" ("The Sclerosis and the Climacteric"), and mothballed at Orlova's own request.
  • The four actors who played the supposedly high-school aged Juan Rico, Dizzy Flores, Carmen Ibanez, and Carl Jenkins in Starship Troopers were between 25 and 30 at the time.
  • In the Starter for 10, James McAvoy, Benedict Cumberbatch, Alice Eve and Rebecca Hall all play 19 to 21 year olds despite being in their late 20's, early 30's in real life
    • Catherine Tate plays Brian's Mom, despite being just 11 years older than Brian actor James Mcavoy.
  • In the 2009 Star Trek, most of the cast is semi-plausibly close to the ages of recent Starfleet Academy graduates. However, John Cho is 37 years old, playing the 21-year-old Sulu. Karl Urban is also 37, though he's closer to his character's official age of 30. And Zoe Saldana (Uhura) is 31.
  • Stigmata starred 31-year-old Patricia Arquette as a 22-year-old.
  • Strangeland: 23-year-old Linda Cardellini as 15-year-old Genevieve Gage.
  • Inverted in The Suburbans, about a One-Hit Wonder group from the early 1980s aiming for a comeback in the late 1990s with the help of a young record company executive — who turns out to have been a huge (and their only remaining real) fan of the band since she was seven. The executive is played by Jennifer Love Hewitt, who was 19 at the time — and who would have been two years old at the time of their hit. Produced by J. J. Abrams, which explains a lot.
  • Discussed in Sunset Boulevard. White-Dwarf Starlet Norma Desmond, for her comeba—excuse me, return—role, plans to play the 16-year-old Salome.
  • The casting of the title role in 1984's Supergirl isn't too bad by the usual standards of this trope; Helen Slater was 20 at the time, playing a high school age girl. But her roommate Lucy Lane? Actress Maureen Teefy was 31 at the time the movie was made!
  • The Saturday Night Live movie Superstar had high school students who were mostly in their 20s. Leading roles go to Elaine Hendrix, 29, Will Ferrell, 32, and Molly Shannon, 35. Apparently, that was supposed to add to the humor.
  • 1987's Summer School is about a gym teacher who must teach "summer school" to a motley crew of teens, including easily distracted Pam (20-year-old Courtney Thorne-Smith); "nocturnal" Larry, a male stripper (29-year-old Ken Olandt); football jock Kevin (22-year-old Patrick Labyorteaux); geeky Alan (21-year-old Richard Steven Horvitz); dyslexic Denise (21-year-old Kelly Jo Minter); beautiful Italian transfer student, Anna-Maria (23-year-old Fabiana Udenio); and two horror-film-obsessed underachievers, Dave (25-year-old Gary Riley) and Francis, a.k.a. 'Chainsaw' (25-year-old Dean Cameron).
  • Played with in Suspiria: For his horror classic, Dario Argento wanted to have the students of the girls' boarding school to be prepubescent to increase the emotional impact and play into the dark fairy tale theme. His producers nixed the idea because of the difficulties of hiring and working with so many child actors on such a project. Argento compensated by having all the students (played by actresses in their 20s) behave immaturely and building sets that made them look small.
  • Take Me Home Tonight is about a group of characters in their early twenties but much of the cast is ten years (or more) older. Anna Faris and Dan Fogler in particular were both 34 playing fresh university graduates. The difference in appearance between them and those characters who are played by actors in their early/mid twenties is quite jarring.
  • In Taken, the 25-year-old Maggie Grace's character is repeatedly stated to be 17, not old enough to leave the country without both parents' permission. Oddly enough, the character's friend is pointedly stated to be two years older than her, though the actress Katie Cassidy is three years her junior. But amazingly enough Liam Neeson, who plays the father of Maggie's character, actually IS old enough to be her father in real life (born in 1952 Neeson would have been 29 when Maggie was born).
  • The 1984 comedy Teachers subverted this trope. In the film, actor Anthony Heald (who would later go on to play Dr. Frederick Chilton in Silence of the Lambs) plays a narcotics cop whose undercover at a High School. Heald was 40 at the time, but could have easily passed for 30. The subversion came from the fact that every student at the school knew he was an undercover cop, and was far older than the other students, but no one ever let on that they knew.
  • Teen Wolf — 24-year-old Michael J. Fox as Scott, 27-year-old Mark Holton as Chubby, 28-year-old Mark Arnold as Mick, 28-year-old Susan Ursitti as Boof, 28-year-old Jerry Levine as Stiles.
  • Teenage Caveman. Robert Vaughn was only 26 when playing the titular character, but looked older due to the brylcreem (which somehow survived the apocalypse).
  • Teenage Hitchhikers from 1974 fails to have any teens at all.
  • Teenagers from Outer Space had no actual teenagers in the cast. Or, as Mystery Science Theater 3000 said, "Really Old Teenagers from Outer Space."
  • In Teeth, then-26-year-old Jess Weixler plays the teenaged Dawn O'Keefe.
  • In The Terminator, Linda Hamilton was 28 playing 19-year-old Sarah Connor. In T2, she was 35 and the character was 29. John was a strange case. At the beginning of T2, the police computer shows John's DOB as 1985, and his age as 10 (making the setting of the movie 1995). Edward Furlong was 13 at the time. In the third film, they establish John's age as about 13 when he stopped attending school, subverting the trope but setting the second film two years later. Interestingly, perhaps noticing that Linda Hamilton was clearly not a teenager in the original film, the opening narration of T3 retcons Sarah's age saying she was 23 years old when the Terminator attacked her in the first film. (plus, Sarah's tombstone has her only 3 years younger than Hamilton) Terminator Genisys follows suit by again featuring Sarah in 1984 while played by a 28 year old, Emilia Clarke.
  • A common occurrence in adaptations of The Three Musketeers: d'Artagnan is sixteen years old at the beginning of the novel, and as such noticeably younger than his three comrades, but most films have him played by an actor in the same age range as those playing the titular trio. Even in Richard Lester's films, where d'Artagnan actually looks quite youthful, Michael York was 31.
  • In Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation, Renée Zellweger is a 24-year-old high school senior. Her friends look older.
  • The actors in Three O'Clock High: Richard Tyson and Casey Siemaszko were both 26 and playing high school students.
  • Audie Murphy played himself from his late teens to early twenties in To Hell and Back, made ten years later. It wasn't too bad, as he remained quite young-looking as well as short.
  • The 2013 teen sex comedy The To Do List prudently uses this. Sexually curious high school valedictorian is played by 29 year old Aubrey Plaza. In fact the youngest actor playing a major role is 24 year old Alia Shawkat.
  • In 1983, 21-year-old Tom Cruise played a teen in four different movies, The Outsiders, Losin' It, Risky Business, and All the Right Moves.
  • Tombstone had 32-year-old Thomas Haden Church as the 19-year-old Billy Clanton.
  • 19-year-old Summer Bishil played a 13-year-old in Towelhead. This is somewhat lampshaded by a line even featured in the trailer in when hearing her age a character responds "You look older." There is no way such a young actress would ever be cast in a movie with its sexual content.
  • True Grit 1969 has 21-year-old Kim Darby playing 14-year-old Mattie Ross.
  • Alexis Bledel was 21 years old when she played 15-year-old Winnie in Tuck Everlasting (the character had already been aged from a child to a teen in order to accommodate her.) At 29 she played a teenager in Violet & Daisy and was thirteen years older than her actually teenage co-star Saoirse Ronan.
  • Parodied and played straight in 21 Jump Street. Many of the characters who are actually in high school were played by actors in their twenties, while Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum played police officers in their twenties who were going undercover as high schoolers. Tatum in particular was really pushing it—this is of course lampshaded.
  • Parodied and lampshaded even harder in the sequel, 22 Jump Street, when they try to pass off as college students. Nobody believes them, and the other students assume they're just creepy older guys trying to act cool and young.
  • The 1983 movie Uncommon Valor, 31-year-old Patrick Swayze plays Kevin Scott, a Force Recon Marine with no combat experience. When asked how long he was in Vietnam, he replies that he wasn't in Vietnam because he was too young, meaning below the draft age of 18 until U.S. involvement ended in 1973, when Patrick Swayze was 21.
  • Underworld:
    • Selene was supposedly sired by Viktor when she was 19, and as an unaging vampire she should probably look around the same age. She's played by then 30-year old Kate Beckinsale in the first movie.
    • In the fourth movie Selene's hybrid daughter Eve was raised in a laboratory for the first 12 years of her life until they meet face to face. She's played by 18-year old actress India Eisley.
  • In the film Unfaithful, while a specific age is not given, we are led to believe that Oliver Martinez' character is much younger than Diane Lane (37 at the time of filming). Her husband is shocked at how young he is when he encounters him, and later blasts his cheating wife—"you threw our life away for some f—king KID!". However, Martinez is only a year younger than Lane.
  • All the named students in Vampire Academy are supposed to be 17-year-old, except the 16-year-old Mia Rinaldi. They are almost all played by actors in their twenties:
    • Rose Hathaway is played by 20-year-old Zoey Deutch.
    • Lissa Dragomir is played by 22-year-old Lucy Fry.
    • Christian Ozera is played by 24-year-old Dominic Sherwood.
    • Natalie Dashkov is played by 24-year-old Sarah Hyland.
    • Mason Ashford is played by 21-year-old Cameron Monaghan.
  • Varsity Blues starring the guy from Dawson's Creek and a bunch of other people in their 20s as beloved high school jocks.
  • Veronica Mars: People in their 30s play people in their 20s.
  • In Pedro Almodóvar's Volver, actress Yohana Cobo convincingly portrays Penélope Cruz's 14-year-old daughter, despite having been 20 years old when the movie was shot.
  • Parodied in Walk Hard, where the 14-year-old version of Dewey Cox is played by 42-year-old John C. Reilly, and his 12-year-old child bride Edith is played by 34-year-old Kristen Wiig. The other students in the scene are a grab bag of realistic and hilariously inappropriate age. This scene was intentionally made even sillier by the fact that it is immediately preceded by 8-year-old Dewey being played by actual 8-year-old Conner Rayburn.
  • In Warlock, a 30-year-old Lori Singer played a 20-year-old character.
  • Wet Hot American Summer has hilariously age inappropriate actors including Amy Poehler and Paul Rudd playing high school aged camp counselors.
    • The prequel, which was made 15 years after the movie, features the entire cast (many of whom are in their 40's) returning to play "younger" versions of themselves.
  • Lampshaded in What's New Pussycat? as flashbacks depict Peter O'Toole's pivotal experiences with women in grade school, high school, and college, all with O'Toole in character (his twelve-year-old self in school uniform looking very Angus Young).
  • In the 1954 White Christmas, 32-year-old Vera Ellen plays Judy Haynes; Judy's age is never expressly given, but based on comments made by other characters (she is repeatedly called "kid" and "little Judy"), that she orders a malted when the others order alcohol, and that 25-year-old Rosemary Clooney plays her older sister Betty, it appears that she's supposed to be about 19.
  • Wild Things from 1998, 25-year-old Neve Campbell and 27-year-old Denise Richards as 18-year-old high school seniors.
  • Willow inverts the trope by featuring then-17-year-old Warwick Davis as a father of two who must be in his 30s at least.
  • The Wiz has 33-year-old Diana Ross managed to get herself cast as Dorothy, pushing out 20-year-old Stephanie Mills (who was the stage Dorothy) in the process. Mills herself was actually 36 the last time she played Dorothy on stage, in 1993.
  • 16-year-old Judy Garland was cast as the 11-year-old Dorothy Gale in The Wizard of Oz (indeed, most people who haven't read the books don't realize Dorothy isn't supposed to be a teenager). Legend has it the studio forced her to wear a tight band around her breasts to make them less noticeable during the filming, among the many other nasty things they did to her and other actors of the day. Meanwhile, Billie Burke played the beautiful Glinda at the age of almost 60. She was old enough to be the mother of Margaret Hamilton (The Wicked Witch of the West), several years older than Frank Morgan (the Wizard) and just four years younger than Clara Blandick, who played the elderly Auntie Em.
  • In The Film of the Book of The World According to Garp, Garp is played from age 15 and up by then-30-year-old Robin Williams, while Glenn Close (herself only 4 years older than him) played his mother.
  • From the X-Men Film Series:
    • Anna Paquin was only a couple years older than Rogue when she was cast in the first movie, but in X-Men: The Last Stand, six years later, she's still playing Rogue at about the same age.
    • For the original trilogy, there's also Shawn Ashmore, Aaron Stanford, Ben Foster, Daniel Cudmore, and the aforementioned Ellen Page, all in their 20s, but they portrayed adolescent characters.
    • 23-year-old Tim Pocock as the high school student Scott Summers in X-Men Origins: Wolverine.
    • Evan Peters, who was 26 years old during filming, portrays the teenaged Peter Maximoff in X-Men: Days of Future Past.
  • In the live-action movie version of Yatterman, 13-year-old Gan Takada is portrayed by 27-year-old Shou Sakurai. The actress playing Doronjo is actually younger than Sakurai. In the anime, Doronjo is clearly much older than Gan.
  • Yentl, with a 40-year-old Barbra Streisand in the title role. In the original short story by I.B. Singer, Yentl seems to be younger than 20, although Streisand made the character 28 years old in the movie. Interesting in that the plot revolves around the main character disguising herself as a young man to study in a yeshiva, which when done by a 40-year-old woman stretches the imagination a bit. Then again, so does Streisand's Brooklyn accent in a movie set in Poland around the turn of the century. (The MAD satire "Mentl" summed it up perfectly by having her disguise be seen through by a blind man!) Mandy Patinkin was 30; his character Avigdor's age is never given, but he's young enough to be eagerly awaiting his wedding night.
  • The 1936 Yiddish musical Yidl Mitn Fidl (Yidl With His Fiddle) stars the Yiddish stage icon Molly Picon, who was about 37, as a teenage girl (who poses as a boy, then falls in love).
  • You Again - All the actors are in their 20s or beyond, the actors only in high school flashbacks as well as the actors who play the past and present versions of their characters.
  • Your Highness — 40-year-old Justin Theroux plays 19-year-old Leezar. 31-year-old Zooey Deschanel as Belladonna, around the same age.
  • Yours, Mine, and Ours has Lucille Ball and Henry Fonda playing expectant parents, at the ages of 57 and 63 respectively.

    Exceptions 
  • Jennifer Connelly was 14, the same age as her character Sarah, during her audition for and throughout filming of Labyrinth.
  • Michelle Trachtenberg was in her late teens playing 18-year-old Jenny in Euro Trip.
    • She played the 11-year-old sixth-grader Harriet in Harriet the Spy, while the actress was 10 years old to the day when shooting began on October 11th, 1995 (this may have been done for labor law reasons, or it may have been a coincidence).
    • She went on to play the 17-year-old lead in Ice Princess, filmed when she was 18. Her co-star Hayden Panettiere, whose character is around the same age as Michelle's (they're in the same grade at school), was 14 at the time.
  • Harry Potter is a standout case. While a number of parodies of the movies (especially Epic Movie) would take jabs at the supposedly young children being played by adults, the lead child actors were in fact played by children roughly the same age as their characters and as each film takes place one year later, they generally stayed the same age as their older characters. Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, and Emma Watson were all roughly the same age as their characters in when they began the film series. When the films production schedules slowed down, all that ended up happening was the characters being 1-2 years younger than their actors... leading to these 17-18 year old characters being played by 20-21 year olds.
    • Emma Watson actually started off younger than Hermione. In the first film, she was 10 years old playing 11-12.note 
    • Aversion was also made easier by the fact that none of the core actors ended up maturing substantially (physically) by the time the final film was made, making it more plausible for them to be playing teenagers. The worst that happened was Daniel Radcliffe having a noticeable 5 o'clock shadow in the later films.
  • In contrast to the above mentioned American Girl actresses, Alyvia Alyn Lind was actually a year younger than her character Maryellen Larkin in Maryellen 1955: Extraordinary Christmas. Which certainly makes sense considering the protagonists being nine or ten years of age.
  • The title role in Babe was played by 48 different piglets, because they grow so quickly. A makeup artist was employed to make the pigs look similar.
  • All the lead actors of 10 Things I Hate About You were actual teenagers: 19-year-old Heath Ledger and 17-year-old Julia Stiles, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Larisa Oleynik (though the latter two play fifteen-year-olds).
  • Lindsay Lohan is the same age as her characters in her early films, particularly Freaky Friday and Mean Girls. Inverted in Herbie: Fully Loaded when she played a university graduate at the age of 19.
  • Sue Lyon was 14, and playing 14, when she filmed Lolita. (In the original novel, Lolita was 12; the character's age was raised to comply with the censors. Nabokov himself had said "to make a real 12-year-old girl play such a part in public would be sinful and immoral.") Many are under the mistaken impression that she was 16, because the film was released in 1962, and Lyon was born in 1946. The film was, however, filmed between November 1960-May 1961, and she was born July 10th, 1946, making her 14 for the duration of filming.
    • Similarly, Dominique Swain was 15 when she played the 14-year-old Lolita in The Remake (again, the character's age was raised to comply with the censors).
  • The 10-year-old (at time of filming) Fairuza Balk played the older but still preteen Dorothy Gale in Return to Oz.
  • Michael Cera (Evan) was 18 and Christopher Mintz-Plasse (Fogel/"McLovin") 17 when playing their graduating high-school characters in Superbad. Jonah Hill (Seth), by contrast, was 23 (due to legal regulations, Mintz-Plasse's mother actually had to be on the set of Superbad the day his character's sex scene was shot).
  • The 1968 Franco Zeffirelli film of Romeo and Juliet featured one of the only examples of an actress playing Juliet being anywhere near her age. Juliet, who is supposed to be nearing 14, was played by 15-year-old Olivia Hussey. Hussey was famously barred from the premiere due to her age. In effect, she was deemed too young to witness a scene featuring her own nude body. Seventeen-year-old Leonard Whiting was impressively young for Romeo, as well.
  • Gogo Yubari, the psychotic 17-year-old killer from Kill Bill was played by the 18-year-old Chiaki Kuriyama (the film was released on her 19th birthday).
  • Leonardo DiCaprio was twenty-two when he played twenty-year-old Jack Dawson in Titanic (1997). Also, 22-year-old Kate Winslet as 17-year-old Rose DeWitt.
  • Inverted in Mysterious Skin with Brady Corbet and Michelle Trachtenberg. Corbet was 15 and playing a 17- to 18-year-old, while Trachtenberg was 18, the same age as her character.
  • The Star Wars films. Carrie Fisher was 18 when playing 19-year-old Princess Leia (and then 21 when playing 22-year-old Leia in The Empire Strikes Back, and 24 when playing 23-year-old Leia in Return of the Jedi). 19-year-old Anakin Skywalker was played by 19-year-old Hayden Christensen at the time of filming Attack of the Clones; when Anakin was 22, in Revenge of the Sith, Christensen was 22. Natalie Portman was 16 when playing Amidala at 14; she also played her at 24 when she was 19, and at 27 when she was 22.
  • Pan's Labyrinth. Guillermo del Toro changed the screenplay when he was impressed by an actress a few years older than the part asked for initially.
  • Kirsten Dunst was eleven years old in Interview with the Vampire, where she played a vampire who was infected at eleven years old and was never able to grow up. Her kiss with the adult Brad Pitt led to a fair amount of controversy. Her character was aged up from about six for practical reasons.
  • The Virgin Suicides: The actresses playing the younger Lisbon sisters were close in age to their characters, from Kirsten Dunst (16) as 14- to 15-year-old Lux, to Hanna R. Hall (14) who played 13-year-old Cecilia, to Chelse Swain (15) as 15-16-year-old Bonnie.
  • Lost in Translation: Scarlett Johansson was not yet 18 when she played Charlotte, who is in her early-to-mid twenties (going by her reference to having graduated from college a little while previously). Johansson had just graduated from high school when she got the part.
  • In Somewhere, 11-year-old Cleo is played by 11-year-old Elle Fanning (she was 12 by the time of its release).
  • Yet another Sofia Coppola film, Marie Antoinette, features a partial subversion — it starts off playing the trope straight by having 23-year-old Kirsten Dunst portray the future queen of France at age 14, but Dunst continues to play her all the way into her thirties.
  • The Film of the Book Twilight: Kristen Stewart (Bella) was actually seventeen and Taylor Lautner (Jacob) was fifteen during filming. Robert Pattinson is twenty-two, in contrast to the eternally 17-year-old Edward. The rest of the actors playing the Cullens are mostly in their early twenties, but it's justified as their characters aren't even really of high school attending age to begin with.
  • Chloe Moretz, at 11, plays 10-year-old Hit Girl in Kick-Ass. 17-year-old Kick-Ass himself is played by 19-year-old Aaron Johnson. At 15, she stars in the 2013 remake of Carrie as the titular 16-year-old character.
  • Matchstick Men is an unusual case in that an actress in her twenties plays a 14-year-old girl with surprising believability, yet in the end it's revealed that her character really is in her twenties.
  • In Apocalypse Now, Laurence Fishburne played a 17-year-old soldier, but he was only 14 years old when filming started (due to the film's long period of production and post-production, Fishburne was 17 when the movie was released).
  • In Sixteen Candles the 16-year-old protagonist is portrayed by a 16-year-old Molly Ringwald. In the same movie, the trope is delightfully lampshaded by Ringwald's comments on a classmate (played by then-25-year-old Haviland Morris). "I swear to God, Caroline Mulford had to flunk about nine grades."
  • In Pretty in Pink, Molly Ringwald was 18 while playing a high school senior.
  • Heathers stars 16-year-old Winona Ryder and 18-year-old Christian Slater whose characters are high school seniors.
  • In the movie Real Genius, Gabe Jarret played a 15-year-old, and was actually 15 at the time of the film's release.
  • Averted in Danny Boyle's 2008 film Slumdog Millionaire: eighteen-year-old Dev Patel plays eighteen-year-old Jamal Malik.
  • Partial subversion: In the film version of Bernhard Schlink's The Reader, eighteen-year-old David Kross plays main character Michael Berg from the age of fifteen into his early twenties. Considering the fairly explicit sex scenes with co-star Kate Winslet, there was very little chance of Michael being cast any younger. It is also worth noting that, although this is not mentioned in the film, the book features a brief scene in which Kate Winslet's character Hanna Schmitz expresses the false understanding that Michael is at university already when she starts having sex with him, implying that he looks several years older than he actually is.
  • In Monty Python's The Meaning of Life there is a scene in which an instructor (played by John Cleese) at what appears to be a religious institution of learning is teaching a class how to have intercourse with his good lady-wife. While in the church service, all the children are... well, children. When we get to the classroom and intercourse discussion, however, they are all played by the various Pythons.
    • When the instructor catches one of them playing with an ocarina, he punishes him by making him play on the rugby team later, which is made up of actual children again!
  • Mia Sara was the only actual teenager in the main cast of Ferris Bueller's Day Off. Her character Sloane was a junior in high school; she was 18 at the time.
  • The Professional features a thirteen-year-old Natalie Portman playing twelve-year-old Mathilda. Which makes her love towards Leon as poignant as it's odd.
  • In To Have And Have Not, Lauren Bacall was 19 and playing a 22-year-old.
  • Great Balls of Fire!: 18-year-old Winona Ryder as a 13-year-old. Given the subject matter (child marries adult cousin Jerry Lee Lewis and goes to bed with him) one can see why they went with an actress who was of age. Oh, and Dennis Quaid was 35 when he played the aforementioned 22-year-old Lewis.
  • Evan Rachel Wood was fourteen when she was cast in Thirteen, the title referring to her character's age (Wood turned fifteen during filming). Considering the sex-and-drugs subject matter of the movie, probably no one would have blamed them if they had cast a baby-faced adult, so it's a notable near-aversion. Her co-star, Nikki Reed - who, quite impressively, also co-wrote the film's screenplay - was the same age as Wood during filming.
  • Tara Steele was about ten when she played teenaged Katie in Mockingbird Don't Sing, though the character was 'supposed' to look much younger than she really was.
  • Anton Yelchin was eighteen when he played the titular Charlie Bartlett.
  • Rebel Without a Cause is a partial exception; Natalie Wood and Sal Mineo were 16, portraying teens. James Dean, however, was 24.
  • Victoire Thivisol was four years old when she played the main role in Ponette, that of a four-year-old who loses her mother. She even won a Volpi Cup for Best Actress at the 1996 Venice Film Festival for her heartbreaking performance.
  • All of the teenagers in Casper were played by people between the ages of 13 and 15 (including the voice actor for the titular character). For somebody used to this in movies, the sight of an entire classroom of teenagers who actually look like teenagers is actually rather jarring. The trope is played straight however with the temporarily revived Casper, who is supposed to be 12 yet is played by a 17-year-old.
  • The live action adaptation of The Last Airbender both plays this straight and subverts it. Jackson Rathbone (Sokka) was 25 playing 15 and Dev Patel (Zuko) was 19 playing 16, but both Noah Ringer (Aang) and Nicola Peltz (Katara) were the same age as their characters during filming (12 and 14 respectively).
  • Disturbingly avoided in Taxi Driver. Jodie Foster was 13 when she played the role of a 12-year-old prostitute (except for the nude scenes, which were performed by her older sister, who was of legal age).
  • The Sound of Music largely kept the actors relatively close to their ages — Nicholas Hammond (Friedrich) was fifteen playing fourteen, Heather Menzies (Louisa) fourteen playing thirteen, Duane Chase (Kurt) thirteen playing eleven, Angela Cartwright (Brigitta) twelve playing ten, Debbie Turner (Marta) eight playing seven, and Kym Karath (Gretl) six playing five. Played utterly straight, however, with Charmian Carr (Liesl), who was twenty-three playing sixteen-going-on-seventeen. Her sweetheart, Rolf, seventeen, is played by Daniel Truhitte, who was twenty-two.
  • In Another Cinderella Story, Selena Gomez was 15 and playing a 15-year-old high schooler. Critics were squicked that Drew Seeley, who played her love interest, was 24, but the movie makes it clear that his character really is that age. A Cinderella Story also averts this with Hilary Duff (whose character is 17 — she was 16 when the film was released).
  • The Diary of a Wimpy Kid film adaptation. The supplemental film diary mentioned that a lot of the child actors used were actual middle-schoolers and that the two boys playing Greg and Rowley actually missed their first days of sixth grade to film the movie. The third movie was rushed into production to make sure the actors could be used one last time before they officially got too old!
  • Borderline case: Most of the actors playing students in Sky High (2005) were between 17 and 19 at the time of the film's release, although many of them played high school freshmen.
  • Tomorrowland (2015) - 23-year-old Britt Robertson was cast as Casey Newton, an optimistic and tech-savvy teen, in July of 2013 and principal photography commenced the next month.
  • In the 2010 version of True Grit, then 13-year-old Hailee Steinfeld played 14-year-old Mattie Ross.
  • Brooke Shields, in her 1980s movie appearances from age 14-17 (most famously The Blue Lagoon), appeared in a variety of R-rated films that involved frontal nudity. In each case, an over-20 body double covered those moments for her.
    • The shocking exception was, of course, her 1978 debut, Pretty Baby where she was the exact same age as her character, a 12-year old prostitute, AND did her own nude scenes. Unsurprisingly, it's one of the most controversial films of all time.
  • Mandy Moore was 18 when she played high school student Jamie in A Walk to Remember, though her also high school aged love interest was played by Shane West, who was 21 at the time.
  • Walking the line in Mystery Team; the actors are in their early twenties, and their characters are high school seniors.
  • Ann Miller played a character several years older in You Can't Take It With You when she was fifteen.
  • In Welcome to the Dollhouse, released in 1995, Heather Matarazzo, born in 1982, is the right age to play a seventh grader.
  • While a number of the cast members who play tributes in The Hunger Games are borderline cases, it's definitely averted by Isabelle Fuhrman (Clove), Jacqueline Emerson (Foxface) and Amandla Stenberg (Rue) — aged 15, 17 and 13 respectively at the time of release.
  • Nikki Blonsky was 17, playing teenaged Tracy Turnblad in Hairspray. She had her 18th birthday on-set.
  • The cast of Stand by Me were close in age to their characters, although still a straight version of the trope, with the exception of Jerry O'Connell, who was 11. Wil Wheaton was 13 (playing "12 going on 13"), Cory Feldman was 14 and River Phoenix almost 15.
  • Mostly averted with Halloween H20: Twenty Years Later, rare for a slasher film. The film had 17-year-olds Michelle Williams and Joseph Gordon-Levitt and 16-year-old Adam Hann-Byrd playing high school students. Played only slightly straight with 19-year-olds Josh Hartnett and Jodi-Lyn O'Keefe, and completely straight with 24-year-old Branden Williams.
  • A bit of a twist: the actress who plays the antagonist in Orphan was 10 or 11, playing a 9-year-old who's actually in her 30s.
  • Inverted to the point of lunacy in Aces: Iron Eagle III - Christopher Cazenove, Horst Buchholz and Sonny Chiba (born in 1943, 1933 and 1939 respectively) play World War II aces, while Paul Freeman (born 1943) plays an ex-Nazi bad guy. Run that by me again?
  • Mostly averted by Lords of Dogtown, in which Victor Rasuk (age 19), Emile Hirsch (age 18) and John Robinson (age 18) convincingly play teenage Tony Alva, Jay Adams, and Stacy Peralta, respectively. However, in real life Peralta and Alva were four years older than Adams, who is portrayed in the movie as being approximately the same age as them. Likely Hirsch was cast due to the difficulty of casting a real 13-year-old for the part.
  • Inverted in If I Stay. Mia is stated to be 18, even though Chloe Moretz herself is only 17.
  • Inverted in Disney's Maleficent. As with Sleeping Beauty, Princess Aurora as a teen is meant to be fifteen/sixteen (the latter age being a plot point). While the animated film modeled Aurora's design after an actress in her twenties, the filmmakers for this live-action adaptation cast Elle Fanning, who at the time of filming was fourteen/fifteen. Cue Reality Is Unrealistic coming into play, with some viewers arguing Elle looked too young to play Aurora, while others defended the casting, pointing out that she actually is a teenager. Funnily enough, by the time the film was released, Elle had indeed turned sixteen.
  • Averted in Into the Woods - where Red Riding Hood and Jack are portrayed by younger adults in the stage versions, they're played by actual children in the movie.
  • While the other main performers playing teens in The Duff play this trope straight, it's averted by Bella Thorne (16 during production). Interestingly, her character isn't in the book the movie's based on.
  • In the movie Snow Day, Mark Webber was 19, Schuyler Fisk was 17, and J. Adam Brown was 16 when they played their characters. Also, Zena Grey was 11 and playing a 10-year old. However, the movie plays this straight with Emanuelle Chriqui and David Paetkau, who were 24 and 27 years old and playing teenagers, and Josh Peck and Jade Yorker, who were 13 and 14 and playing elementary school-aged characters.
  • Averted with the casting of Jacob Lofland and Katherine McNamara in Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials, who were both roughly 18 at the time of filming.
  • Averted in Rambling Rose with Lukas Haas as Buddy - Buddy's 13, Haas was 13 at the time. (Which got the film in trouble with the UK censors, due to the scene where Buddy sexually fondles Rose - it was trimmed for British release.)
  • In the Movie Of The Book of the Dutch childrens book series Alfie the Werewolf, the role of 7 year old Alfie was played by the actually 7 year old Ole Kroes. This was a deliberate choice from director Joram Lürsen since he feared the audience would notice the age difference if they were to cast an older child actor in the lead role.
  • The film Kids was largely criticized for this, since it featured actual underage teens (all of which weren't even real actors at the time) engaging in acts of sex, drugs, and pure delinquency.
  • Jake Gyllenhaal was 26 when he filmed Zodiac but his onscreen character Robert Graysmith is in his 30's for most of the story, and early 40's by the end. The trope is both played straight and inverted with Mike Mageau, who at age 19 is played by 25-year old Lee Norris, and at age 41 is played by 31-year old Jimmi Simpson. The two actors are only 6 years apart despite playing the character separated by 22 years.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/DawsonCasting/Film