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Time-Shifted Actor

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Left: Ewan McGregor in the prequels. Right: Alec Guinness in the original trilogy.

"Before you go, master, answer me this one, last, big question. Do I grow up to become Alec Guinness?"
French and Saunders: "The Phantom Millennium"

When a story spans decades, it is often not possible for the one actor to play the same character throughout. Heavy make-up might just let the 30 year old play 90, but never 10. Instead, multiple actors are used for the same role.

A time-shifted actor will usually be credited as playing 'Young Mr X' or 'Old Ms Y'.

Differentiated from the other actor replacement tropes by the passage of long stretches of story-internal time. If those long stretches of time have to pass during a short stretch of footage, an Age Cut will allow the actors to be swapped quickly.

This is especially popular in prequels and sequels, or in stories with a Framing Device in which 'Old Ms Y' recalls events of her younger days.

Sometimes the necessary resemblance between Mr X and Young Mr X will be achieved by use of a Real-Life Relative. If only a photograph is required, an old picture of the actor/actress will suffice.

Compare and Contrast Role Reprisal. See also Identical Grandson.


Examples:

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    Advertising 
  • Played for laughs in a Visa check card commercial, where Charlie Sheen waits so long for a store's ID verification that he ages into Martin Sheen.
    Store Clerk: This doesn't look like you.
    Martin Sheen: It did when I came in here....

    Anime 

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animated 
  • In Atlantis: The Lost Empire, Kida is voiced by Natalie Strom as a child, but by Cree Summer as an adult.
  • In Balto, Rosy is voiced by Juliette Brewer as child, and played (in a live action sequence) by Miriam Margolyes (Professor Sprout of the Harry Potter films) as an adult.
  • Jason Todd in Batman: Under the Red Hood is played by three different actors for when the character is a child, a teen and an adult.
  • Bolt is an interesting example. Chloë Moretz originally voiced Penny both as a child and as a teenager. However, Disney wanted another big "name" attached to the film to attract a younger audience, so Miley Cyrus was cast... but only as a teenager. Chloe Moretz' dialogue as younger Penny remained in the film.
  • In both movie and musical versions of The Lion King, Simba and Nala are played by one set of actors as cubs and another as adults.
  • Averted in Toy Story 3 where (the now adult) Andy is actually still voiced by the same actor that played him in Toy Story and Toy Story 2. Played straight during the film's prologue, however.
  • In The Book of Life , Manolo, Maria, and Joaquin are voiced by Diego Luna, Zoe Saldana, and Channing Tatum as adults, while their child versions shown at the beginning are voiced by Emil Bastien Bouffard, Genesis Ochoa, and Pierce Grangon.
  • In Super Man Vs The Elite , Robin Atkin Downes and Marcella Lentz Pope voice Manchester Black and Vera Black, while Grey DeLisle and Tara Strong voice them as kids.

    Music 
  • In the video to "The Miracle", the members of Queen are played by kids.
  • In Moonwalker, the same actor played young Michael Jackson in a sequence that parodies "Bad" and later played him in "The Jacksons: An American Dream."
  • The Spice Girls video for "Mama" has child actors playing the girls intercut with pictures of the real girls as children.
  • The video for Van Halen's "Hot For Teacher" had kids playing younger versions of the band members.

    Radio 
  • In The BBC radio adaptation of The Once and Future King, Paul Ready plays Arthur and Paul Heath plays Sir Kay. Edward Bracy plays Wart and Ethan Hammer plays Young Kay.
  • In ''What Does the K. Stand For?" Stephen K. Amos plays himself as an adult narrator, and Shaquille Ali-Yebuah plays Young Stephen.

    Theatre 
  • In Follies, the four middle-aged main characters all have younger doubles, who appear in the very frequent flashbacks. Many secondary characters also have younger doubles who mimic their dance steps.
  • The musical Les Misérables requires a child to play young Cosette (whose face is on the poster) and a young lady to play adult Cosette. Young Eponine has a walk on role just after the "Castle on a Cloud" number, and grown-up Eponine becomes a major character a few songs later.
    • Notably, the two young actresses alternate between these roles.
    • The twenty-plus-year run of the show means there has been at least one case of an actress who played Young Cosette as a child returning to play grown-up Eponine.
    • Similarly, Lea Salonga played Eponine on Broadway in 1993 and then sang the part of Fantine at the Twenty-Fifth Anniversary Concert.
    • In the 2012 film, Isabelle Allen and Natalya Wallace played Young Cosette and Eponine, while Amanda Seyfried and Samantha Barks played their adult counterparts.
  • In the musical Gypsy, two child actresses play Baby June and Baby Louise at the opening of the show, only to grow up (with help from some strobe lights) into the adult actresses who play Dainty June and Louise.
    • Presumably, the boys that Rose kidnaps en route to LA also grow up to be some of the Farmboys, although it's never stated outright which boy is which.
  • In the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical Aspects of Love, two actresses play Jenny at age 12 and age 15. In the Broadway production they were similar-looking sisters, but the original London production had two non-related girls.
  • Mame follows Patrick Dennis, both as a 10 year-old and as a young adult. As such, there are two actors. And they sing a duet at the start of act 2.
  • In Once On This Island, Ti Moune ages from a small child to a young adult in the space of about five seconds as part of a song, requiring the use of this trope.
  • The ballet Fall River Legend casts two dancers as the Accused (Lizzie Borden), one playing her as a teenager and one as an adult. They occasionally dance together, but without the younger Accused acknowledging her older self.
  • Glen Tetley's ballet adaptation of Alice in Wonderland has two dancers as Alice, one as an older woman and one as a child.
  • In most productions of The Nutcracker, Clara is played by one young actress throughout. However, the Mariinsky Ballet's version, in which the character is called 'Masha', will cast a young girl (eleven or twelve) as Masha in the first act, and transition to an older dancer (usually a student in her last few years at the Vaganova Academy) for the second act, known as 'Princess Masha'. This is due to Princess Masha's significantly more complicated dancing in the second act in this particular production. As with other theatre productions, it's not uncommon for the same student to play Masha and then, several years later, play Princess Masha.
  • There are two actors for Philip Hamilton in Hamilton, one at 9 years old in "Take a Break" and another (who also plays John Laurens in Act I) from "The Reynolds Pamphlet" on.

    Video Games 

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • In the Ben 10 franchise, Tara Strong voiced the titular ten-year-old in the original series. When the character was aged up to fifteen for Alien Force, Yuri Lowenthal took over and continued on in Ultimate Alien. The same applies for the respective actors behind Gwen and Kevin.
  • DCAU:
    • In Superman: The Animated Series, teen and adult Clark are not voiced by the same person. (However, in Legion of Super-Heroes, the same actor voices teen and adult Clark equally convincingly.)
    • Another example is the Justice League Unlimited episode, "Kids' Stuff." Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and Green Lantern are magically made into children and voiced by age appropriate actors.
      • Brought home in episodes of Batman Beyond set in the future, which feature a robust 60-something Superman now voiced by Christopher McDonald - the voice of Superman's father Jor-El in all his DCAU appearances.
  • Futurama averts this trope with the main crew, who are played by the same actors when we see them as children and as older adults. The trope is played straighter with many of the secondary characters (such as Fry's brother).
  • Hey Arnold!: Arnold is voiced by Rusty Flood in the flashbacks in "Parents Day" and "Helga on the Couch" instead of his normal voice actors (he was recast many times). Likewise, Helga was voiced by creator Craig Bartlett's daughter Katie instead of Francesca Marie Smith during the same flashback in the latter episode.
  • In Beforel Orel, the prequel to Moral Orel, Clay's father (and Orel's grandfather) Arthur is voiced by Joe Unger, instead of the show's creator, Dino Stamatopoulos.
  • This was averted with A Pup Named Scooby-Doo, where Don Messick and Casey Kasem reprised their roles of Scooby and Shaggy respectively. Fred, Velma, and Daphne did have real children as their voices though, instead of their respective adult voice actors, with this being the first and only time to date (not counting the live-action films) that Fred was played by someone other than Frank Welker.
  • Recess: All Growed Down averts this trope during the scene when we see the nine-year-old cast as kindergarteners, however, this led to some awkward moments regarding the voices of Mikey and Vince, as their voices already broke (Mikey's during the break between the end of the series and production on the DTV movies, and Vince mid-way through the first season). Played straight somewhat as T.J.'s voice actor was replaced with a much younger kid with a higher voice (making his portrayal of T.J. loathed among the fandom), which worked well for his kindergarten scenes.
  • Averted in The Simpsons, in which the actors will voice their characters' young selves in flashbacks and the children's voice actors voice the character's adult selves in future episodes.
  • In Star Wars: The Clone Wars and the holocron recording of him in the first episode of Star Wars Rebels, Obi-Wan Kenobi is voiced by James Arnold Taylor. When he turns up in person in the third season of Rebels, he's voiced by Stephen Stanton, who it turns out does a mean Alec Guinness impression.
  • In Sym-Bionic Titan, we see a younger Lance in two episodes, both voiced by child actors instead of Kevin Thoms. Although in "Shaman of Fear", he is voiced by Elan Garfias and in "Shadows of Youth" he is voiced by John DeVito, despiting his younger self appearing to be roughly the same age both times.
  • In Thundercats 2011, the younger Lion-O is played in one episode (as well as in a short where he's a baby) by Tara Strong. Interestingly, Cheetara's younger self is voiced in flashback by Grey DeLisle, who frequently works with the former.
  • Star vs. the Forces of Evil: Queen Moon is voiced by Grey DeLisle, but a flashback in "Moon the Undaunted" has her teenage self being voiced by Katie Driver. Likewise, the Meteora Butterfly is voiced by Jessuca Walter as an adult and Tress Mac Neille as a child.
  • In Tangled: The Series , much like the film it's based on, sees Rapunzel voiced by Mandy Moore as an adult, and Ivy George as a child, much like Delanie Rose Stein.
  • One episode of Transformers: Rescue Bots has Elan Garfias' character Cody turned into an adult, who's voiced by Oliver Vaquer.
  • The season 1 finale of Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated has a flashback that shows younger versions of Ricky Owen (Lewis Black) , Cassidy Williams (Vivica A. Fox) , Brad Chiles (Tim Matheson), and Judy Reeves (Tia Carrere) , respectively voiced by Scott Menville, Kimberly Brooks, Nolan North, and Kari Wahlgren.
  • A Pup Named Scooby-Doo had Fred, Daphne, and Velma voiced by former child actors Steve Carlson, Kellie Martin, and Christina Lange rather than Frank Welker, Heather North, and Marla Frumkin. Shaggy and Scooby avert this, with Casey Kasem and Don Messick still voicing them.
  • On Sofia the First , the episode "Through The Looking Back Glass" has child versions of Cedric (Jess Harnell) and his sister Cordelia (Rachael Mac Farlane) voiced by Emil Bastien Bouffard and Anna Graves.
  • In Stretch Armstrong and the Flex Fighters , Riya is normally voiced by Nazneen Contractor, but her younger self in the episode "Riya's Revenge" is voiced by Kathreen Khavari.
  • On Elena of Avalor , Princess Marisa is voiced by Gina Rodriguez while her child self in a flashback is voiced by Gia Lopez.
  • On Justice League Action , Batman is voiced by Kevin Conroy , Zatanna is voiced by Lacey Chabert, and John Constantine is voiced by Damian O'Hare. However, the episode "Trick Or Threat", which featured child versions of them and Doctor Fate (who has no adult voice actor) due to Klarion the Witch Boy turning them into kids , Batman is voiced by Tara Strong , Zatanna by Dayci Brookshire, and John Constantine by Paula Rhodes.


Alternative Title(s): Time Shifted Actors

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