• Mon, Oct 7 - 3:33 pm ET

14 Times Actors Were Way Too Old To Be Playing Teenagers

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

Rachel McAdams Mean Girls Crying(Photo: IMDb)

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 

Jon Heder Napolean Dynamite Door(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 

Cory Monteith Glee Singing(Photo: IMDb)

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 

Gabrielle Union Bring It On Clovers(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 

Paul Wesley 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 Kitsch Friday Night Lights(Photo: IMDb)

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 

Stacey Dash Clueless(Photo: IMDb)

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 

Henry Winkler Happy Days Fonzi(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

Alison Brie Donald Glover 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

Keiko Agena Gilmore Girls Smile(Photo: IMDb)

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 

Alan Ruck Matthew Broderick Ferris Bueller's Day Off Eating(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 

Gabrielle Carteris Beverly Hills 90210 Cast(Photo: IMDb)

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

Stockard Channing Grease Bedroom(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

Bianca Lawson Pretty Little Liars Smile(Photo: IMDb)

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?!

You can reach this post's author, Jill O’Rourke, on twitter.
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  • Olivia Wilson

    Wait, I didn’t even know that they were supposed to be 15 in Clueless! If I was ever that cool at 15, I would have been so happy.

  • Lisa L.

    To be honest, Most of them still could pull off the part… They still looked really young. And younger talent is sometimes harder to work with anyways.

    • Jill O’Rourke

      I just know that when I was younger I enjoyed watching actual teenage actors playing people my age. It added a sense of realism and relatability for me.

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  • River

    In the movie “About Time” Rachel McAdams plays a young woman in her very early 20′s going out with a 21 year old young man. She’s really 35. Way too old for the role. Giving someone bangs doesn’t take them back down 15 years. She’s been in too many movies. People know her real age.

  • Jay

    You forgot Selma Blair in cruel intentions and Maggie grace in taken. If they look young enough then who cares but both of those were horrible casting decisions.

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