Main Age Lift Discussion

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01:10:54 PM Jan 28th 2018
  • The Handmaid's Tale: The Commander is older, probably middle-aged at least in the novel. In the series he's played by forty six year old Joseph Fiennes.

Could we get a definition of "middle aged" here? I thought "40-60", but apparently the OED and other sources say "45-65", which still covers Mr Fiennes.
10:40:23 AM Aug 15th 2016
edited by DaibhidC
Pulled these, which are about the age of the actor, which isn't necessarily an indication of the character's age; some of these examples are definitely Dawson Casting or Playing Gertrude, the rest might be.

  • The title character of 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. Ethan Hawke is the youngest actor to play Hamlet in a major motion picture, essaying the role in the 2000 "modernized" remake at the age of 28; no other Hamlet in a film of the production has been under 30, though Iain Glen also played Hamlet at 28 in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead.
    • This gets even better when one considers a curious theory that Hamlet is really 16 years old.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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. Most fictionalizations of Robin Hood's story push John up to middle age.
  • 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).
  • 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 III, 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 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.

    • Related to this, Marisa Tomei, who's currently just 50, plays the usually 70+ (in the classic comics) Aunt May.

  • 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 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.

    • 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.
    • Actually, many of the adults fit in this category. In the books, all the contemporaries of Lily and James Potter — including Sirius, Lupin, Peter Pettigrew, and Snape — should all be in their thirties when the story is taking place, but all of them are played by actors at least in their forties, and as mentioned above, Alan Rickman was 64 when filming ended, despite his character dying at age 38. Again, the only way to make sense of this is to assume the movie aged Lily and James to 30 when they had Harry, allowing everyone else to age as well.

  • 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 ten 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.

  • Into the Woods:
    • Due to casting Meryl Streep, the Witch is older than she was in most versions of the stage show. Notably in the stage show, the character is usually played by an actress in make-up to make her appear older - and when she transforms into her beautiful self the actress just removes the make-up. Streep meanwhile commented that it took more make-up for her to appear younger.
    • A partial example. Although Jack and Red Riding Hood are children in the story, they're usually played by teenagers or young adults acting like children. Here they're played by actual children.
  • Vampire Academy:
    • Headmistress Ellen Kirova is described as a grey-haired woman in the books. Making her at least middle-aged. In the film, Kirova is played by 35-year-old Olga Kurylenko.
    • A minor case in the role of teacher Sonya Karp. According to her appearance in the Bloodlines series, Sonya is still in her late 20s. She is played by 30-year-old Claire Foy.
    • Victor Dashkov is in his forties in the novels. In the film, he is played by 64-year-old Gabriel Byrne. Possibly justified, since Victor is supposed to be Younger Than He Looks.
    • Queen Tatiana Ivashkov is said to be in her early 60s in the books. In the film, she is played by 49-year-old Joely Richardson.
  • Bizarrely, the actresses selected to play Spider-Man's Aunt May seem to be getting younger with every new film reboot (though at least none fit Playing Gertrude to the portrayer of Peter Parker). In Sam Raimi's Spider-Man in 2002, May was played a 75-year-old Rosemary Harris—matching the character's portrayal in the comics, where she's consistently been in her mid-70's. For Sony's The Amazing Spider-Man in 2012, the casting department selected a 66-year-old Sally Fieldwho could easily pass for a much younger woman, thanks to her dark hair. As mentioned above, the actress playing her in Marvel Studios' reboot? Marisa Tomei, who's currently just 50.
  • True Grit:
    • In the 1969 adaptation, John Wayne was 61 at the time, while the book describes Rooster as being in his early forties. Jeff Corey (playing Chaney) was in his 50s, while Chaney is in his mid twenties in the novel.
    • In the 2010 version, most of the male lead actors are older than their respective characters were in the book. Jeff Bridges was 60 when the film was made. Matt Damon (39) plays La Boeuf, who is about 30 in the book, and Josh Brolin (42) plays Chaney. Barry Pepper is about the same age as Ned Pepper is in the book, though. It helps that Damon and Brolin are Older Than They Look.
  • Bridge of Spies: The Real Life James Donovan was in his early 40s during the events depicted in the film, but Tom Hanks was near 60 when he played him.

    • The adult characters have, if anything, gotten it worse. Nobody would ever believe that the greying Robert and weathered Eddard in Season 1 are only 38 (Given the already established 3 year age up); Jaime and Cersei Lannister are stated to be 40 in Season 4 (32 at that point in the books), while Tywin is said to be 67 (57 at that point in the books), and Ian Gelder (early 60s) plays his younger brother Kevan (early 50s in the books); meanwhile, Olenna Tyrell is in her late 70s at the youngest (Early-70s in the books). About the only adults that could be believable as being their original age plus three are Theon (22) and Renly (24). This might also explain the removal of Jaehaerys II (Mad King Aerys' father), as Aerys was only 39 when he died in the books and the writers need him to be much older (he's a couple years younger than Tywin, a fact crucial to the backstory) while keeping Aegon V roughly the same age (Maester Aemon is still 100, so it stands to reason that his brother wouldn't be much younger) - Aerys and Rhaella are thus Aegon V's younger children, rather than his grandchildren as they were in the books.

  • Most productions of The King and I, including the film, apply this trope to Anna Leonowens and Playing Gertrude to the King. The real Anna was in her late 20s or early 30s (though she most likely claimed to be younger than she was) when she came to Siam, while King Mongkut was nearly 60, but they're usually both played by performers in their mid to late 30s or 40s.
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