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Time Shifted Actor / Live-Action Films

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Time-Shifted Actors in live-action movies.

  • Christa B. Allen has played the younger version of Jennifer Garner's character twice, in 13 Going on 30 and Ghosts of Girlfriends Past.
  • Almost Famous used Michael Angarano as the 9-year-old William Miller for the first 20-odd minutes and Patrick Fugit as his 15-year-old self for the rest of the movie.
  • In Atonement, Briony is portrayed as a child and adult by two newcomer actresses who bear a remarkable resemblance to each other. Then Vanessa Redgrave shows up as the elderly version in the final scene.
  • Hilariously inverted in Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery, when Dr. Evil returns to his lair and his evil organization in 1999 after thirty years of being cryogenically frozen ... and sees that his wife, Frau Farbissina, looks exactly the same as before.
    • Played straight in the sequel, where, after traveling back in time, Dr. Evil barely recognizes Number Two (portrayed by Rob Lowe instead of Robert Wagner). Additionally, a flashback in the third film shows young actors portraying Austin, Dr. Evil, and Number Two as teenagers (and toddlers). Interestingly, despite Mike Myers portraying both Austin and Dr. Evil in all films, their teenager versions are portrayed by different actors.
  • In Batman, Hugo Blick played a younger Jack Napier while Jack Nicholson plays his older self as he becomes the Joker.
  • Ewan McGregor also portrayed young Edward Bloom in Big Fish, while Albert Finney portrayed old Ed. Reportedly, the decision was made when somebody noticed the resemblance between McGregor and young Finney. Perry Waltson portrayed Ed as a child.
    • The resemblance is remarkable, but is pretty much lost on most movie-goers, as they are not familiar with Albert Finney's early work.
  • Richard Linklater's movie Boyhood is an aversion to this trope. The movie takes place over 12 years, using the same cast. The catch is that the movie started production in 2002, and was not released until 2014. This means that the actors actually age with their characters.
  • The Butterfly Effect was set around three different periods where the main character is around 8-10, then around 14-16 and finally the present 20 odd. Not only did casting need to find child look-alikes for the main character, but all the other main characters; they did a pretty good job, too.
    • But because Viewers Are Morons, the character somehow kept the same haircut throughout all of his life.
  • Every production of A Christmas Carol needs two Ebenezer Scrooges (oen young, one old), for the Ghost of Christmas Past sequence.
  • The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe has a short scene at the end with the grown up Kings and Queens of Narnia. Rachael Henley, Mark Wells, Noah Huntley and Sophie Winkleman play the older versions of the Pevensies, which are played by Georgie Henley, Skandar Keynes, William Moseley and Anna Poppelwell, respectively. Rachael and Georgie Henley, who play the two versions of Lucy, are real life sisters.
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  • Citizen Kane, being a fictionalized biopic, presented the title character in all ages. All of them are Orson Welles in makeup, except for eight-year-old Kane, played by Buddy Swan.
  • In The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, different actors play Benjamin as he grows younger into his "childhood". Daisy was also played by different actresses as a little girl and a teenager.
  • DC Extended Universe:
  • In Doctor Zhivago, the eponymous character is played by Omar Sharif. At the beginning of the movie, there is a flashback with the young Yuri. The actor who plays the old Yuri really looks a lot like the actor who plays the young Yuri, because the two are father and son.
  • Forrest Gump has Michael Conner Humphreys and Hanna Hall play young Forrest and Jenny. In fact, the story goes that Tom Hanks didn't know how he'd voice Forrest until he heard Michael.
  • A strange case in Gangster No. 1. Paul Bettany plays the unnamed gangster in The '70s, and Malcolm McDowell plays him in modern times, but none of the other characters change actors. Also, Bettany is much taller than McDowell.
  • In Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai Forest Whitaker's younger brother Damon was used as a younger version of the main character during a flashback.
  • Averted in Ghosts of Mississippi, which takes place over five years (1989-1994). However, neither the protagonist's children nor those of his second wife age one bit.
  • The Goddess of 1967, both for the female lead (Bree Beadman is the young version of Rose Byrne) and her mum (Satya Gumbert is the young version of Elise McRedie).
  • The Godfather starred Marlon Brando as the eponymous Vito Corleone, while The Godfather Part II had Robert De Niro as a younger Vito, in flashback sequences. This is particularly notable because both actors received Oscars for the role, the only time the same character has received two awards for different actors. The character also appeared in the same film as a boy, played by yet another actor, Oreste Baldini.
    • In the same flashback scenes, the characters of Carmela Corleone, Peter Clemenza and Sal Tessio were all played by younger actors — as were Sonny, Fredo, Michael and Connie Corleone, who all appeared as babies and young children.
    • Michael Corleone's two children were also played by different actors from movie to movie. In fact, the boy who played Anthony Corleone in the second film was the older brother of the boy who played him in the first film.
  • Dabbs Greer played the older version of Tom Hanks' character in The Green Mile.
  • In Halloween (1978), Will Sandin portrayed a young Michael Myers at the beginning of the film, while Nick Castle portrayed "The Shape" (older Michael with his mask on), and Tony Moran played an older Michael for the brief scene without his mask.
  • In the Harry Potter film series, Hagrid is played in the present and the prologue of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by Robbie Coltrane. The young Hagrid in the flashback scenes of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets was played by former rugby player Martin Bayfield, who serves as Coltrane's body double in wide shots of the older Hagrid (Coltrane, however, dubbed the voice of young Hagrid).
    • When he regains a body at the end of Goblet of Fire, Lord Voldemort is portrayed by Ralph Fiennes note  As "Tom Riddle", he's played by Hero Fiennes (Ralph's nephew) at age 11 and Christian Coulson (in Chamber of Secrets) and Frank Dillane (in Half-Blood Prince) at age 16.
    • Baby Harry Potter was played by the Saunders triplets (first names uncredited) in the first movie and by Toby Papworth in last movie.
    • Otherwise, the Harry Potter series represents a notable aversion. When the first movie was made, it was assumed that the child actors would probably need to be recast at some point, but all of the major ones remained for the entirety of the series - nearly a decade in total.
    • The Fantastic Beasts series has forty-something Dumbledore played by Jude Law, making him the only character in the series to be played by three actors for more than a bit part. His brother Aberforth will be appearing in the upcoming third film, played by Richard Coyle.
  • In A Home at the End of the World, Colin Farrell's character is played by Andrew Chalmers and Erik Smith, and Dallas Roberts's by Jonathan Glover (no, not that one). Sissy Spacek, on the other hand, stays on throughout; eight years isn't that much when you're already over 50.
  • In Hook, Gwyneth Paltrow portrayed Wendy Darling as a child/young woman, while Maggie Smith portrays Wendy as an old lady; Peter Pan was portrayed by three different actors as a baby, a younger boy and a twelve-year-old, before his adult self was portrayed by Robin Williams.
  • In i am sam, sisters Elle and Dakota play Lucy at three and seven, respectively. Elle also plays the younger version of Cate Blanchett in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.
  • Hayden Panettiere spends most of If You Believe as Ally Walker's Time-Shifted Actor, as she plays Walker's younger self who comes back to help her out. (She also plays Lauren Bacall's character as a little girl at the start of Too Rich: The Secret Life Of Doris Duke.)
  • A VERY unique and artistic version in the film I'm Not There inspired by the music of of Bob Dylan. Six actors depict different facets of Dylan's life and public persona: Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett (yeah, the actress), Marcus Carl Franklin, Richard Gere, Heath Ledger, and Ben Whishaw.
  • Harrison Ford played adult Indiana throughout the Indiana Jones film series. River Phoenix portrayed "young Indy" at the beginning of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Not enough for you? This spawned The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles which featured three time-shifted Indys: George Hall as the elderly Indy in the framing sequences, Sean Patrick Flanery as 16-19 year old Indy for the bulk of the series, and Corey Carrier as 10-year old Indy during the first season. Not to mention Ford reprising the role as a bearded, middle-aged Indy in one episode.
  • In Iris, Kate Winslet played younger version of Iris Murdoch, and Judi Dench played the older version.
  • Bobbie Anderson, Jean Gale, Jeanine Anne Roose, Ronnie Ralph, and Georgie Nokes play the child versions of, respectively, George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart), young Mary Hatch (Donna Reed), Violet Bick (Gloria Grahame), Sam Wainwright (Frank Albertson), and Harry Bailey (Todd Karns) in It's a Wonderful Life.
  • In The Kid Who Would Be King, based on Arthurian legend, Merlin ages in reverse and so Angus Imrie plays Merlin as a teenager while Patrick Stewart plays him as an old man.
  • Life of Pi: Pi is played by four different actors; Suraj Sharma gets most of the screen time as the teenage Pi, followed by Irrfan Khan as the adult Pi who narrates his story to a writer. Ayush Tandon plays Pi at age 11-12 and Gautam Belur plays Pi at age 5.
  • Truly averted in The Limey (1999), where the young Terence Stamp is shown by reusing footage from his earlier movie, Poor Cow (1967).
  • While a child actor had to portray the 10 year old version of title character in Little Big Man, Dustin Hoffman wore make-up to portray the character's centenarian self. He made his voice sound old by going into his dressing room and screaming at the top of his lungs for an hour.
  • The 1990s film of Little Women had Kirsten Dunst play the younger Amy, and Samantha Mathis play the older Amy.
  • In The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Bilbo Baggins is played by Ian Holm, even during the scene in the opening sequence where he obtains the One Ring during the events of The Hobbit. The actual films of that particular book cast Martin Freeman in the role.
  • Love & Mercy, a Brian Wilson biopic, features Paul Dano as the late-60's era Brian who fronted The Beach Boys, and John Cusack as the mid-90's era Brian who was effectively reduced to an Empty Shell under the domineering therapy of Dr. Landy.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
  • In Men in Black 3, present-day Kay is played by Tommy Lee Jones. 1969 Kay is played by Josh Brolin in a notable piece of Separated-at-Birth Casting. In the same film, Alice Eve plays O in 1969 while The Present Day version is played by Emma Thompson. Also, Cayen Martin portrays Will Smith's Agent Jay as a little boy.
  • Mission to Mars has a brief one of these in a flashback montage. Interestingly, the boy playing Gary Sinise's character as a child was Sinise's own son, McCanna. "Mac" would go on to do the same the following year in Gary's next sci-fi film, Impostor.
  • MonsterVerse:
  • In the Soviet sci-fi film Moscow — Cassiopeia, a minor character is first shown as a teenager and then (due to the main characters experiencing Time Dilation) as an adult. They are, obviously, played by different actresses. This serves more to give closure to a minor subplot involving a love letter that she anonymously sent to the boy who would become The Captain that she wrote with her off hand in order to hide her handwriting. She admits it was her as an adult.
  • Once Upon a Time in America spanned a few decades and thus had many characters portrayed both as adolescents and adults. Among these were David "Noodles" Aaronson played by Scott Tiler and Robert De Niro chronologically, Maximilian "Max" Bercovicz played by Rusty Jacobs and James Woods chronologically, and Deborah Gelly played by a young Jennifer Connelly and adult Elizabeth McGovern.
  • In Psych-Out, Jenny and Steve are played as adults by Susan Strasberg and Bruce Dern, and in a flashback by child actors Susan Bushman and William Gerrity.
  • Hayden Panettiere played the younger versions of Tess Panzer (Miss Panzer was the grownup version of Sheryl Yoast in the Bookends of Remember the Titans), Hilary Swank (The Affair of the Necklace) and Emily Watson (Fireflies In The Garden).
  • Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman's daughter Nell plays young Rachel in the flashback sequences of Rachel, Rachel, which was directed by Newman and starred Woodward as Rachel.
  • The Sandlot has Smalls played by Tom Guiry as a young boy and by Arliss Howard as an adult, with film director David Mickey Evans narrating as the adult Smalls. Mike Vitar plays Benny Rodriguez for most of the film, with his elder brother Pablo as the adult Benny in the epilogue. Danny Nucci appears as Benny in The Sandlot 3: Heading Home, with that film's setting being between the first film and its epilogue.
  • The movie Serenity has a flashback of a preteen River in an outdoor classroom setting arguing against the officially-taught premise of the Alliance war on the Independents. She is played by Hunter Ansley Wryn, while the older character in the film's present is played by Summer Glau. Glau still provides the voiceover for those scenes to make the character connection easier.
  • The Shawshank Redemption features a shot of Red's prison file, complete with mug shots that look like a much younger Morgan Freeman. The actor in the mugshots? His son, Alfonso Freeman, 22 years younger.
  • Anthony Hopkins played Hannibal Lecter in Silence of the Lambs, filmed in 1991, and in its prequel Red Dragon, which, despite being filmed in 2002, was set in 1980, and managed to pull it off.
  • Jim Carrey played "Adult Joe Wenteworth" in the framing sequences of Simon Birch (the younger version of the character being played by Joseph Mazzello).
  • Stand by Me has Wil Wheaton as young Gordie Lachance, and Richard Dreyfuss as "The Writer", the adult Gordie who is writing about his youthful adventures.
  • An interesting aversion was done in Stardust, where Michelle Pfeiffer's character goes from old to young and then ages rapidly throughout the film. Instead of using two different actors for the different ages, they used make-up to more accurately portray her aging.
    • Played straight with the character of Dunstan, who's first played by Ben Barnes (credited as "Young Dunstan") and then by Nathaniel Parker.
  • Star Trek:
  • Star Wars:
    • The prequels cast Ewan McGregor as the young version of Obi-Wan Kenobi, a role originated by the late Alec Guinness. Most of the other characters who appear in the original trilogy, however, are played by the same actors, either because they're voiceover roles or because playing the older version involved heavy makeup that disguises the fact that the actor has aged in the opposite direction from the character. Anakin/Darth Vader has the record for most actors: There's child Anakin (Jake Lloyd), young adult Anakin (Hayden Christensen), suit Vader (David Prowse in the original trilogy; Hayden Christensen in Revenge of the Sith; Spencer Wilding in Rogue One), voice Vader (James Earl Jones), fencing stunt double (Bob Anderson), and unmasked Anakin at the end of Return of the Jedi (Sebastian Shaw, who also played Anakin's Force ghost).
      • The young Skywalker twins, meanwhile, were both played by Aidan Barton, the son of one of Revenge of the Sith's editors, Roger Barton. The adult Skywalkers are played by Mark Hamill (Luke) and Carrie Fisher (Leia).
    • An unusual aversion of the trope: Ian McDiarmid plays Palpatine in both the original trilogy and in the prequels. He was in his late thirties when he first appeared in Return of the Jedi but wore makeup to look older; then, by the time The Phantom Menace was being made, he had become the right age to play "young" Palpatine. (He also wears the makeup at the end of the prequels as well: the reason for the change in his appearance is not the lapse of time but rather a Force-related injury sustained during a duel.)
    • The Force Awakens: Rey is played at 19 by Daisy Ridley, and as a child by Cailey Fleming during the flashback sequence.
    • Rogue One: while Felicity Jones played the adult Jyn Erso, her child counterparts were played by sister duo Beau and Dolly Gladsdon. And while Princess Leia was played by her original actress (and a lot of CGI), Grand Moff Tarkin used Guy Henry to capture the likeness of Peter Cushing.
    • Solo features Alden Ehrenreich as Han Solo and Donald Glover as Lando Calrissian. Their (older) adult counterparts were played by Harrison Ford and Billy Dee Williams, starting in A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back, respectively.
  • In Superman, the teenage Clark Kent is played by Jeff East while the adult counterpart is played by Christopher Reeve (although Reeve dubbed all of East's lines).
  • In the Tenacious D movie, The Pick of Destiny, amazingly similar-looking child actors are used for young Jack Black and Kyle Gass.
  • In the movie of The Time Travellers Wife, the daughter Alba is played at five years old and eight years old by two sisters. This also allowed them to be on screen together.
  • Titanic (1997) had Kate Winslet as Rose in the main storyline, and Gloria Stuart as "Old Rose" in the frame story.
    • Interestingly, this is one of only two examples where two separate actors were nominated for Academy Awards for playing the same character in the same film. The other time was Iris, where Iris Murdoch was played by Judi Dench and...Kate Winslet.
  • In The Movie of To Kill a Mockingbird, the voice of Scout as an adult narrator was done by Kim Stanley, while Scout as a child was played by Mary Badham.
  • Notably averted in TRON: Legacy, where relatively new techniques are used to make Jeff Bridges appear much younger than he actually is during the flashback sequences. Also helps him to portray Clu.
  • Twilight Zone: The Movie:
    • Mr. Agee is played by Murray Matheson as an elderly man and by Evan Richards as a child.
    • Mrs. Dempsey is played by Helen Shaw as an elderly woman and by Laura Mooney as a child.
    • Mr. Weinstein is played by Martin Garner as an elderly man and by Scott Nemes as a child.
    • Mrs. Weinstein is played by Selma Diamond as an elderly woman and by Tanya Fenmore as a child.
    • Mr. Mute is played by Peter Brocco as an elderly man and by Christopher Eisenmann as a child.
  • Played with in Walk Hard. While a young Dewey Cox is portrayed by a child actor, John C. Reilly plays him all the way from age 14 into Dewey's 70's, and Dewey's first wife is played by the same actress (in her thirties) from age 12 to her elder years. This is played for comedy.
  • Watchmen tried to avert this to the best of their ability by casting young and then aging up. This meant that Carla Gugino and Jeffrey Dean Morgan spent most of their screentime under heavy makeup.
  • In Water for Elephants, the younger version of Jacob is played by Robert Pattinson, and the older version who appears in the present to set up a framing device for the story ala Titanic is played by Hal Holbrook.
  • Ariel Winter has been the little-girl versions of Michelle Monaghan (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang) and Christina Ricci (Speed Racer).
  • X-Men Film Series:


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