Not quite Dawson Casting
, but a related phenomenon particular to adapted works. Dawson Casting is when actors play roles for which they are clearly too old. Age Lift
is when this happens, but the age of the character in question is changed or glossed over for the sake of the story. For example, instead of having a 35-year-old actor trying to pass for 17, you age up the character from 17 to 27. The idea is that the discrepancy between character and actor is much smaller.
Basically a Pragmatic Adaptation
to take into account factors such as child labour laws and how demanding a role may be for a younger actor. The two most common forms of this appear to be aging pre-teen characters to teenagers so twenty-somethings can feasibly play them and aging thirty-something parents by about a decade to counter the potential Values Dissonance
relating to young parents
Contrast Playing Gertrude
, Hollywood Old
and Younger Than They Look
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- Often, dubbed, Americanized versions of Japanese anime will have characters aged up if said characters engage in violent or sexy behavior that may be considered inappropriate for their original, Japanese-given ages. Also, if a young anime character seems unrealistically precocious in some area or other, they may be aged up as well to make their accomplishments seem more believable.
- Extremely prevailent in translations of Hentai, where high-school age characters are reset to 18 or 19, due to different age-of-consent laws.
- The character of Nobue in Strawberry Marshmallow is aged up from sixteen years old in the manga to twenty in the anime. This isn't done to match a particular actor, but because Nobue is a habitual smoker and drinker and they couldn't show her doing that on TV if she was underage.
- The anime adaptation of Aku no Hana changes the characters from middle school students to high school kids, possibly due to the violent and psychosexual nature of the story, not to mention the animation is rotoscoped.
- Mamoru Chiba a.k.a. Tuxedo Mask in Sailor Moon is 17 in the manga and 21 in the anime. This actually means the romance between he and Usagi - who's age is 14 in both - is toned down perhaps due to the larger age gap. In the anime Usagi and Mamoru's relationship comes across to outsiders viewers like college student allowing a teen girl who has a crush on him to say he's her boyfriend to keep her happy, whereas in the manga there is little doubt in the romance.
- The Crucible is based on true events, but the affair between Abigail Williams and John Proctor was not one of them. In real life Abigal was 11 and John was in his 60s.
- The title role in Hamlet is a role that this often happens with. Laurence Olivier was 41 when he played Hamlet in 1948, Richard Burton was 40 in 1964, Innokenti Smoktunovsky was 39 in the same year, Derek Jacobi was 42 in 1980 (2 years older than his uncle Claudius!), Kevin Kline was 43 in 1990. Mel Gibson (34 in 1990) and Kenneth Branagh (36 in 1996) are almost in the right age group, considering that there are a couple of lines in the play itself that place Hamlet's age near 30. Nicol Williamson was the youngest notable actor to play the role in a film of the production (at 33, in the 1969 film); Iain Glen is the youngest person to play Hamlet in a major motion picture, essaying the role in the film version of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead at age 28, making him one of the few professional actors to be younger than the character.
- Patrick Stewart has famously played Hamlet's evil uncle Claudius twice on film: First in 1980 at age 40 and then again in 2008 at age 68. Hell, his Hamlet from 1980 went on to play Claudius himself in Kenneth Branagh's Hamlet in 1996, over a decade before Stewart reprised the role with no mentions of his age.
- The age of one of Shakespeare's other great tragic leading men, Macbeth varies wildly depending on the aim of the production. In the 2006 Australian film version, he is a young man (30-year-old Sam Worthington), because he is portrayed to be a hotshot young drug lord; this age is not unusual in most film (and some stage) productions, which cast Macbeth in his early-mid thirties. However, in the recent stage production that moved from London to Broadway in 2008, he is an older man (68-year-old Patrick Stewart), because
the point of the production was to star Patrick Stewart he is portrayed to be an aging general with a much younger trophy wife; Macbeth is rarely ever played by an actor of Stewart's age because it means the "old" King Duncan needs to be aged up even further. note
- Richard III is another example. In various productions, he's been played by 47-year-old Basil Rathbone, 48-year-old Laurence Olivier, 51-year-old Vincent Price, 46-year-old Peter Cooknote , 56-year-old Ian McKellen, and also 56-year-old Al Pacino. It should be noted that Richard was only 33 when he died at the battle of Bosworth Field, and only five years older than his usurper, Henry VII, who, unlike Richard, is usually played by a reasonably young actor.
- Ang Lee's 1995 adaptation of Sense and Sensibility is full of this trope. Colonel Brandon, who was supposed to be 35 or 36, was played by 49 year old Alan Rickman. The 19-year old-Elinor Dashwood was played by 35-year-old Emma Thompson, and 17-year-old Marianne Dashwood was played by 20-year-old Kate Winslet. However, the movie implies that the Dashwood sisters are in their late and early 20s, respectively and that Colonel Brandon is an older world-weary gent that we would associate with someone nearing 50. Lee and (scriptwriter) Emma Thompson made a conscious decision to age Elinor up to at least her mid-twenties, because they didn't think the audience would accept a 19-year-old worrying about being left on the shelf.
- In the film adaptation of the James Patterson novel Along Came a Spider, Alex Cross is played by Morgan Freeman. Cross is implied by the text to be in his forties or early fifties, and Freeman was sixty at the time. It's even more jarring that his love interest is played by the then thirty year old Monica Potter.
- Roberto Benigni playing the title role in his film version of Pinocchio, at the age of 50.
- In the BBC film versions of The Ruby in the Smoke and The Shadow in the North, actor Matt Smith plays street kid Jim, who is 11 in the first book and 16 in the second, as a man in his late teens/early twenties. Which could cause problems if they ever get around to filming the fourth book, The Tin Princess.
- In Forbidden Zone, all the children are played by adults. The most egregious example being Flash Hercules, who is played by a 70 years old man!!
- In The Adventures of Robin Hood, the 48-year-old Claude Rains is cast as Prince John — who was historically 26 at the time of his brother Richard's imprisonment. Like most fictionalizations of Robin Hood's story push John up to middle age.
- This probably has to do more with legal compliance than artistic reason, but no matter what actress is playing her, the character of Lolita always starts the movie at age 14 or 15 rather than 12, which she is at the beginning of the book.
- In the film version of Logan's Run, the mandatory death age was increased to 30 (compared to the book's 21) for this reason. The book's notion that sexual activity becomes legal— and practically encouraged— at the age of 14 probably doesn't help.
- In the book of Interview with the Vampire, Claudia has the physical appearance of a five-year-old. In The Movie, Claudia is played by Kirsten Dunst, who was twelve upon the movie's release. Aside from narrowing down the Squick factor, this avoids the practical impossibility of a five-year-old actress playing a believable adult character.
- In the same film, Armand, a cherubic seventeen-year-old in the book, is aged up to his mid thirties and played by Antonio Banderas, apparently to avoid the Squick inherent in having two of the main character's three pseudo-love-interests be underage.
- Dune: None of the actors who've played Paul, Leto II and Ghanima Atreides, or Feyd-Rautha Harkonnen have been under 20. Of course, since Paul and Feyd-Rautha were 15 during Dune itself and Leto II and Ghanima were 8 this is understandable. Generally, Paul and Feyd's ages are not mentioned in the adaptations, which makes this arguably a case of All There in the Manual and Dawson Casting, but for the SyFy version of Children of Dune, Leto and Ghanima's ages were upped to around 18. The 1984 adaptation of Dune also has the 4 year old Alia played by the 9 year old (at time of release) Alicia Witt.
- In Picnic William Holden considered himself too old (he was 37) to play Hal Carter, supposedly of the same generation as The Chick played by Kim Novak (22).
- One of the biggest criticisms of the James Bond movie A View to a Kill was that Roger Moore was still playing Bond at age 57 (he was 45 he was first cast as Bond in Live and Let Die). Sean Connery himself said "Bond should be played by an actor 35, 33 years old. Iím too old. Rogerís too old, too!". Even when he was first cast, Moore violated the canon of Ian Fleming's novels, which established that Bond faced mandatory retirement at age 45 (meaning Pierce Brosnan was technically too old for the role for most of his time as Bond, too).
- Turned on its head in Skyfall where one of the main themes of the movie is how Bond (played by the 44 year old Daniel Craig) is getting too old to keep working in the field.
- Most of the main cast of Percy Jackson and the Olympians was aged up from their preteens. Most notorious in Annabeth's case - sure, they aged her up from twelve to sixteen, but that didn't stop Alexandria Daddario from being in her early twenties.
- Inverted in The Godfather. Marlon Brando (age 47) played the title character Vito Corleone (who ages from 55 to 65 over the course of the film). All his children except Talia Shire also fit him under Playing Gertrude too.
- Inverted in The Godfather, Part III, Al Pacino (50) played Michael Corleone (59) — this may seem like a small jump, but Pacino was made up to look like he'd aged a lot, with greyed hair and so on.
- Inverted in Superman Returns: 22 year old Kate Bosworth played Lois Lane in a movie that was supposed to take place five years after Superman II in which Lois was already years into her career and was played by the then 30 year old Margot Kidder.
- In the 1995 film of Richard III, Maggie Smith plays the Duchess of York, mother to Richard of Gloucester, Edward IV and the Duke of Clarence. Smith was 61 at the time the film was made. Ian McKellen, who played Richard, was 56; John Wood, who played Edward, was four years older than her at 65; and Nigel Hawthorne, who played Clarence, was sixty-six. To be fair, Maggie Smith has been playing older women for most of her career.
- The grandpa of all slasher flicks Blood Feast, the character of Fuad Ramses is referred to several times as an "old man" even though the actor playing him was all of 30 years old. Thus, Fuad had some rather unconvincing gray streaks spray-painted into his hair.
- The musical 9 is about a filmmaker experiencing a mid-life crisis as he turns forty. For the film version, his age was upped to fifty to match Daniel Day-Lewis (52 in 2009, when the film was released).
- In every film and television version of Wuthering Heights, Heathcliff and Cathy are played by the adult actors during the scene where they eavesdrop on the Lintons, making giggling comments. In the novel they are children at this time, explaining their childish behavior. Catherine is only 19 when she dies. Heathcliff was 20, and he was 16 when he ran away. No adaptation has even gotten close to the correct ages.
- Watchmen has multiple examples, which are justified as the characters also appear in flashbacks set at least 20 years prior, and it's easier to add age with makeup than it is to subtract it: Carla Gugino as Sally/Silk Spectre I and Jeffrey Dean Morgan as the Comedian (she was 37, he was 42, both play characters that ranges from the 20s in flashbacks to the late 60s in 1985), Malin Akerman as Laurie/Silk Spectre II (29 during filming, ranges from 17 to 37 - and the two actors mentioned prior are her on-screen parents), and Matthew Goode as Ozymandias (29 at the time of filming, playing a 46-year-old - in flashbacks, 27). Also, canonically Jon Osterman was 30 when he "died" (and became Dr. Manhattan, who essentially doesn't age), but his actor, Billy Crudup, was 39. In the original comic, the Comedian was 16 at the time of WWII while Silk Spectre was 19. In the film, they were aged up to their 20s since neither of the actors could pass for teens.
- The Star Wars prequels end up causing this to Darth Vader, who died at the age of 46 - but his unmasked and (original) Force Ghost actor in Return of the Jedi, Sebastian Shaw, was 78.
- In the book of A Clockwork Orange, the band of droogies were adolescents of 15. When Kubrick chose Malcolm Macdowell for the role of Alex, all were aged up accordingly. Echoes of the book occur when Alex is depicted as school age and when (years later) Dim describes himself and his partner as "of job age" in the scene where they torture Alex.
- In the original Captain America comics, Bucky Barnes was Cap's teen sidekick. Since the filmmakers realized that'd be a bit too campy for a live-action movie, they made Bucky a soldier in his early 20's for Captain America: The First Avenger.
- In Iron Man 2, Justin Hammer is depicted as a middle-aged man and played by Sam Rockwell. This is in sharp contrast to the comics, where Hammer is an old man with a teenage granddaughter.
- Harry Potter:
- Though it seems odd, the film adaptations change the ages accidentally with Lily and James Potter. Looking at the flashback clips, the moving pictures, and the images in the Mirror of Erised, Lily and James appear to have been in their 30's or 40's when they had Harry. It could make sense, since their ages weren't revealed until the seventh book, six years after the first movie had been made. Though the film versions of Harry's parents look quite middle-aged, the book version of Harry's parents were only 20 when they had Harry and 21 when they died. This also leads to an interesting moment in the final film, where their ages are revealed. The dates on their headstones confirm that they were also supposedly 21 in the film canon.
- Severus Snape is the same age as Harry's parents would have been, so 31 at the beginning of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. Alan Rickman plays Professor Snape in the movies, and was 55 when the first movie premiered in 2001.
- Several other minor age lifts. Cho Chang is a year older than Harry in the books. A line from Hermione in the fifth film implies she is in the same year as them. Romilda Vane was also two years below Harry and Katie Bell one year ahead, but the two are in his year also in the sixth film.
- Fittingly Shakespeare in Love has a few examples. Shakespeare himself is actually played by an actor the right age (28 year old Joseph Fiennes) and Geoffrey Rush was only slightly older than the real life Philip Henslowe but Rupert Everett was a decade too old to play the then 29 year old Christopher Marlowe and Richard Burbage who was only 25 in 1593 was played by a then 37 year old Martin Clunes.
- The original The Millennium Trilogy adaptations from Sweden have both Michael Nyqvist (48) and Noomi Rapace (29) six years older than their characters, Mikael Blomkvist and Lisbeth Salander. (in comparison, the remake started its shoot with Daniel Craig 42 like Blomkvist, and Rooney Mara only two years older than Salander)
- In the book of Tuck Everlasting, Winnie is eleven. To both fit the Dawson Casting of Alexis Bledel and lessen the weirdness of her romance with forever 17 year old Tuck, she is aged up to 15 in the movie.
- The 1979 film Sidney Sheldon's Bloodline cast Audrey Hepburn in a leading role. Hepburn was in her 50s, but the character was written as being in her 30s. Hepburn looked great, but could never pass for someone in her 30s, so not only did an age lift occur in the film, Sheldon went back and revised his own novel for new editions, raising the character's age to match that of the film.
- In Ghost Rider we meet childhood sweethearts Johnny Blaze and Roxanne Simpson. Fast-forward to them as adult actors and we get Eva Mendes (33 at the time) being romanced by the 43-year-old (and looking older) Nicolas Cage. Although to be fair, it's not entirely clear if this is an Age Lift for Cage or Hollywood Old for Mendes.
- In the novel of Beaches, the friends Cee Cee and Bertie meet at the respective ages of ten and seven, and first reunite in their teens. The movie changes things so both are eleven when they first meet, then reunite when they're in their twenties. This was likely due to not wanting to cast separate actresses for the girls' teenage years, the fact that Bette Midler and Barbara Hershey couldn't play that young, and probably to have less of an age difference between the two characters.
- In Lincoln, we have the inverse of real life: Abraham Lincoln was 9 years older than his wife Mary, but Mary's portrayer Sally Field is nine years older than Daniel Day Lewis (who upon release, was only one year younger than Lincoln when he died), who manages to look older than her due to the make-up.
- King Louis XIII never made it past the age of 42, yet in the 1948 adaptation of The Three Musketeers, he is played by 58-year-old Frank Morgan.
- In all the Superman movies, Superman's alien father Jor-El is played by middle-aged actors (Marlon Brando, Russell Crowe) with graying or silver hair. In the Superman comics, Jor-El was a young man who looked exactly like Superman when Krypton blew up.
- The Addams Family movies feature Wednesday as a young teenager or tween, as opposed to the TV show in which she was a little girl.
- The 2010 The Karate Kid remake ages the main characters down from 17-18 year-olds to preteens.
- Snow White is 10-14 in the original fairytale. Most film adaptations age her up to around 16 at the youngest.
- In The Devil's Arithmetic book, Hannah is twelve. In the film she is aged up to around seventeen (she is old enough to drive and get a tattoo). Rivka is ten in the books but is aged up to around fourteen or fifteen.
- The Pevensie Children in The Chronicles of Narnia are a bit older in the Walden Media films than they were in the books. Peter is around 12-14 but William Moseley was 16 when the first film was made. Caspian in the books is said to be the same age as Peter so the second film ages him up too. The age differences are notable in all of the actors since only a year has passed between the first and second films, but they were filmed three years apart.
- Marry Poppins never reveals her age but is portrayed as an elderly woman in the books. In the film she is played by the 25-year-old Julie Andrews.
- Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz is around seven or eight years old in the books. Judy Garland was seventeen when she played her in the film (Barry Norman's book The Hollywood Greats says Dorothy was meant to be fourteen in the film). Return to Oz has Dorothy at the age she was in the books.
- In the Animorphs book series, the characters age from 13 in book 1 to 16 in book 54. In the short-lived TV series, though, the characters start out as 15- and 16-year-olds (played by actors as old as 25). In all fairness, as part of the series' conceit that it was secret accounts of a guerilla war, the characters deliberately obscured their ages; that they were 13 in the beginning wasn't revealed until the second-to-last book, and the show was canceled long before then. There is some evidence to their age long before the last book. Tobias describes Jake as a "typical middle school kid" in an early book, which means the Animorphs must be between the ages of 11 and 14.
- In the The Southern Vampire Mysteries, the character of Pam is stated to have been nineteen when she was turned into a vampire. The producers of the TV adaptation True Blood cast the fortysomething actress Kristin Bauer van Straten as Pam and gave her the backstory of being a madam of a brothel, an occupation traditionally for an older woman.
- Virtually all the child characters in the HBO adaptation of Game of Thrones have been aged up by a few years. For instance, in the book series, Robb Stark and Jon Snow are fifteen and Daenerys Targaryen is thirteen. The characters are aged up to about 18 and 16 respectively and the backstory timeline is edited accordingly. Part of this is probably to accommodate older actors who could handle the dramatic heavy lifting. Part of it is also because the intense sex and violence in the book would be much more disturbing (and in the case of Daenerys, likely illegal) if portrayed by actors who look closer to the book ages. Even still, most of the teens are played by actors in their twenties.
- In the definitive adaptation of Anne of Green Gables, Megan Follows, who was seventeen at the time, played an Anne Shirley who was advanced in-text from eleven to thirteen years old. Not, perhaps, a vast difference (Follows is still effective in the role), but the scatterbrained, temperamental, and openly imaginative character seems exaggerated when she's aged up.
- In the 1930s film of Anne of Green Gables starring Anne Shirley - the actress who took the character's name for her own, she is stated to be fourteen.
- Deadwood is only Very Loosely Based on a True Story, so a lot about the real-life characters are rewritten. For exaple, Al Swearengen was a just-married 31 years-old man from Iowa in 1876, while the TV character is a single, globe-trotting Englishman in his 60s.
- Jesse Stone is in his mid-thirties in the novel series, while in the TV movies he's played by Tom Selleck, who's in his 60s. Despite this Robert B. Parker himself approved and said Selleck nailed the role.
- On The Twilight Zone, Anthony from "It's A Good Life" was aged up from three years old to six, as a toddler couldn't have been relied on to act a part or been given any lines.
- The girls in The Worst Witch books were around eleven or twelve but appear to be around sixteen by the third season of the TV series. So notable that the fourth season was changed to a college setting because it would have no longer be believable that Mildred would still be at school.
- Miss Drill was also a strict older woman like the rest of the teachers in the books. In the TV series she is a much younger woman. This is addressed in-universe as Miss Drill is frequently at odds with the traditional older teachers.
- In Sherlock, Professor James Moriarty, the elderly, doddering math teacher, becomes the young, suave, snappy-dressing career criminal Jim Moriarty. Tellingly, where the literary Moriarty assumed the cover identity of a university professor to keep his reputation clean, the series' version does the same thing by crafting a cover identity as a television actor.
- The Autobiography of Jane Eyre is a Setting Update of Jane Eyre. Lots of changes in characters' ages were done; mostly because the production team of the webseries were recent graduates when they started, and some of them were friends from school, which means they are more or less the same age.
- Jane Eyre was 18 in the novel; here she's 21 and a college graduate with a degree in nursing. Her actress is 24.
- Grace Poole is a Composite Character, combining weird and mysterious Grace Poole with caring and friendly Mrs Fairfax. She's significantly younger than both women of the book, especially Mrs Fairfax who was probably in her fifties or sixties. It shouldn't hurt the story, though, except that the audience could cringe that there are no old people.
- Mr Rochester is thirty-sh. He is younger than his book equivalent who was in his mid-to-late thirties. The age gap between him and Jane was important for the story; it's smaller here, but it still applies.
- The Lizzie Bennet Diaries is a Setting Update of Pride and Prejudice. Several changes regarding ages were employed, mostly to set some characters in graduate school or avoid unfortunate implications or plot holes. Some characters were still teenagers in the book. In the modern day States, a twenty-something is seducing or abusing a fifteen-year-old girl? Call the police and arrest that pervert.
- Lydia Bennet turned 21 in the web series. In the book, she was 16.
- Gigi Darcy is in her early twenties. Miss Darcy was 15 in the novel.
- Elizabeth Bennet was 20, and it was lifted to 24 with Lizzie.
- Charlotte Lucas was 27 in the book; Charlotte Lu is 24 as Lizzie: they are best friends ever and go together to graduate school.
- Lyn was 15 in the original Japanese version of Fire Emblem: The Blazing Sword. The localized version aged her up to 18 for some reason, despite her acting basically the same age as her co-leads Hector and Eliwood.
- In the original Japanese version of Sweet Fuse At Your Side, Saki is 17 years old and Wakasa is 15. Since Sweet Fuse is a Romance Game and Saki's other prospective love interests range in age from 22 to 32, the English localization by Aksys Games nudges her age up to 18 and Wakasa's to 17.
- The Lithuanian translation of Homestuck changes the ages of the main heroes from 13 to 16, explaining it by the fact that it began precisely three years after the original.
- A variation with Aishling in The Secret of Kells. The character is based on a genre of Irish poetry where a spirit representing Ireland itself appears, taking the form of an older woman. However instead of a wise older woman, Aishling is a mischievous little girl.
- Rapunzel is quite young in her original fairy tale, possibly fourteen-sixteen. Tangled states she is eighteen.
- Pocahontas was ten or twelve in real life when she met John Smith. The Disney film ages her up to sixteen years old.