You know when you’re watching a movie about teenagers and you think, “Wow, I did not look like that at age 16. Those actors must have matured fast”? A lot of times it’s because those teenagers are being played by actual adults, oftentimes ones who haven’t been teenagers for at least a decade.
I for one find this to be very disappointing. Not only are these adults taking roles away from perfectly talented, age-appropriate actors, but these grown-ups’ senile brains probably can’t even take them back far enough in memory to understand what being a teenager is like, which is probably why we have so many unrealistic — albeit entertaining — teen movies out there. I mean, we live in a world where Orlando Bloom, a 36-year-old man, is playing Romeo on Broadway. Are we eventually just going to cast 40-year-olds to play the kids on sitcoms and hope no one notices that they have receding hairlines?
While you might already suspect that a lot of your favorite teenage characters were actually adults in disguise, you might not realize how far from teenaged they actually were, so I put together list of iconic teen characters portrayed by actors far too old. How could we be so deceived?
1. Rachel McAdams in Mean Girls
In 2004, Regina George became an iconic character in a modern-day classic. But the lady who played her (I say lady because she was old enough to be called one) was actually 25 years old at the time. That’s old enough to rent a car, for crying out loud! Regina George shouldn’t be able to rent a car! This is so not fetch.
2. Jon Heder in Napoleon Dynamite
(Photo: Twentieth Century Fox via IMDb)
Nerdy, awkward teenager? Yeah, so the nerdy and awkward parts are accurate, but the teenager part, not so much. John Heder was 26 when Napoleon Dynamite was released.
3. Cory Monteith on Glee
While he was still tragically young at the time of his death, a lot of people who weren’t familiar with Cory Monteith were probably surprised he was 31 years old, since he played teenager Finn Hudson so convincingly. But when the show started he was already 27 years old. Let’s put it this way. Matthew Morrison, who plays his teacher, is 34.
4. Gabrielle Union in Bring It On
(Photo: Universal Studios via IMDb)
While Kirsten Dunst was an acceptable 18 when everyone’s favorite cheerleading movie was released, her onscreen rival Gabrielle Union was 27. No wonder her abs looked so good! She had all those years to chisel them.
5. Paul Wesley on Vampire Diaries
(Photo: The CW via IMDb)
To be fair, Stefan is a vampire who’s actually been around for almost 200 years, but he’s supposed to have looked 17 for a while. 27 is actually more accurate, since that’s the age Paul Wesley was when the show premiered.
6. Taylor Kitsch on Friday Night Lights
Taylor was 25 when the show premiered in 2006, even though he played a high school football player. He got away from playing teenagers after the show ended, but that was in movies like John Carter so…
7. Stacey Dash in Clueless
Alicia Silverstone was 18 when Clueless came out, even though she was playing a 15-year-old. Acceptable. Not so acceptable? Stacey Dash playing fellow 15-year-old Dionne when she was 28. AS IF!
8. Henry Winkler on Happy Days
(Photo: ABC via IMDb)
Winkler was 29 when the show premiered in 1974, despite playing a high schooler. Eyyy, what’s that all about?!
9. Alison Brie and Donald Glover on Community
(Photo: NBC via IMDb)
Annie and Troy are actually supposed to be normal college freshman age at the start of this series, having just graduated from the same high school. They were actually both 26 when the show started. But since this is a community college with students of all ages, they could have totally made their characters have accurate ages. Eh, whatever.
10. Keiko Agena on Gilmore Girls
Lane Kim is 40 now, you guys. Well, Keiko is at least. She was 27 when the show premiered, despite playing a high school sophomore. So she could have totally kept her rock CDs above the floorboards, because she was an ADULT. Still no word on where Lane’s father was.
11. Alan Ruck in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
(Photo: Paramount Pictures via IMDb)
Aww, Cameron. Turns out he had the maturity and phone voice of a grown man because he was one. Alan Ruck was almost 30 when the film premiered in 1986.
12. Gabrielle Carteris on Beverly Hills 90210
If you watched this show and thought maybe there was a Never Been Kissed situationgoing on with Andrew Zuckerman, it’s because she was actually a 29-year-old woman when the show premiered.
13. Stockard Channing in Grease
(Photo: Paramount Pictures via IMDb)
If you thought it was bad that Olivia Newton-John was 30 in this movie, just wait until you hear how old Stockard Channing was as Rizzo. Wait for it… 34. She was playing someone half her age. How does that even happen?
14. Bianca Lawson on Pretty Little Liars
This one is absolutely incredible. Bianca Lawson is currently 34 years old. She definitely doesn’t look it, and that’s been very helpful to her since she’s been playing a teenager on television for 20 years. Yeah, she was on Saved by the Bell in 1993. Who is this ageless creature?!