20 Actors Who Played Teenagers and Adults

There have been many adult actors and many teenage actors, but there have also been an alarming number of actors who have played teenagers as adults.

1 in 20

Jason Earles in “Hannah Montana”

It's a Laugh Productions/Disney Channel

Jason Earles didn't just have to play a 30-something teenager for several years on Hannah Montana. He also had to do press, promotion, and engagements with cast members and other Disney Channel stars, who were well over a decade his junior. In retrospect, Earles playing Jackson Stewart was…an interesting choice.

2 out of 20

Alexa Demie in “Euphoria”


Most of the actors in Euphoria are much older than the characters they play. Jacob Elordi joked before filming season 3 that he would get back pain walking down the halls. But Alexa Demie is significantly older than her character. She is in her early 30s before filming the next season.

3 out of 20

Darren Barnet in “I Never Have”

Kaling International/Netflix

Darren Barnet became famous for playing a high school student in I have never, and he was in his twenties when he began filming the role. Barnet was in his thirties by the end of the show's run.

4 out of 20

Ashleigh Murray in “Riverdale”

Berlanti Productions

A large part of the Riverdale The crew was older than the character they played, but Ashleigh Murray had the biggest age gap. Sure, she looked young, but it might have been a stretch to say that a 28-year-old could realistically play a sophomore in high school.

5 out of 20

Bianca Lawson in “Pretty Little Liars”

Warner Horizon Television

It's understandable why casting directors hire adults to play teenagers when the characters are supposed to behave very adultly, but at some point the age gap becomes too great. Most pretty Little Liars The actors had at least four years of age difference between themselves and their characters, but Bianca Lawson's was the greatest. She was 31 when she started playing 16-year-old Maya.

6 out of 20

Stockard Channing in “Grease”

Allan Carr Enterprises

Several members of the Fat the actors were in their 30s when they filmed the musical. Looking at the ages of the actors at the time of filming, it appears that the casting director respected a minimum age rather than a maximum. While playing 18-year-old Rizzo, Stockard Channing was 33 years old.

7 out of 20

Chase Stokes in “Outer Banks”


Unless a teen show is filmed for Disney Channel, teens will likely be portrayed by adults (and even Disney Channel pushes the boundaries sometimes). Most of the actors in Outer Banks is at least in his twenties, with Chase Stokes in his thirties and over a decade older than his character.

8 out of 20

Stacey Dash in “Clueless”

Paramount Pictures

It turns out that various classic teen movies feature adults as teenagers. When Stacey Dash played Dionne in Distraught, she was 28 years old and a senior in high school. The film never mentions Dionne repeating a grade or starting school late, so we can assume the character was 17 or 18 years old.

9 out of 20

Leonardo DiCaprio in “Catch Me If You Can”

Amblin Entertainment

There has been a lot of outrage around the ages of the women Leonardo DiCaprio dates, but not much over the ages of the characters he plays. In the public's defense, his dating history is much longer. The actor has only played a character with a significant age gap once. DiCaprio was 28 when he played a 17-year-old in Catch Me If You Can.

10 out of 20

Judd Nelson in “The Breakfast Club”

A&M Movies

Judd Nelson became a teen icon when he played the rebellious John Bender in The breakfast club. Nelson gained many teenage fans, but he was already well past that part of his 25-year life when the film was released.

11 out of 20

Henry Winkler in “Happy Days”

Miller-Milkis Productions

Adults have been playing teenagers for decades. When Henry Winkler started playing Fonzie in Happy Days, he was 28 years old. Fonzie, meanwhile, was still in high school.

12 out of 20

Jennifer Gray in “Dirty Dancing”

Great American Films Limited Partnership

The age gaps in Dirty dance were all sorts of problems. Baby was 17 and Johnny was 25. Jennifer Gray was 27 during filming, while Patrick Swayze was 34. Gray had also just finished filming. Ferris Bueller's Day Offwhere she plays another younger character.

13 out of 20

Timothy Granaderos in “13 Reasons Why”


Timothy Granaderos began playing a teenager in 13 reasons why in his late 20s and continued into his early 30s. The actor was in good company, however. Most of the actors were significantly older than the characters they played.

Photos of Colombia

Maybe part of the reason Spider Man was so amazing because the actor who played him wasn't a teenager. Andrew Garfield wasn't even close when he took his turn as a superhero. Garfield was 27 when he began playing the 17-year-old character.

15 out of 20

Florence Pugh in “Little Women”

Photos of Colombia

As we all know, a 12 year old and a 17 year old are very different. Boundaries can be pushed slightly when a character is approaching adulthood rather than when they are about to enter adolescence. In Little womanAmy is shown as young as 12 years old, meaning Florence Pugh, at 23, had to play a character who was not yet a teenager.

16 out of 20

Rachel McAdams in “Mean Girls”

Broadway video

The Plastics acted with more maturity than the typical teenage boy mean girls, we therefore understand why the filmmakers chose actors who were already adults. While playing Regina George, a high school student, Rachel McAdams was 26 years old.

17 out of 20

Keiko Agena in “Gilmore Girls”

Dorothy Parker Drank Here Productions

Keiko Agena was 27 when she began playing 16-year-old Lane Kim in Gilmore Girls. Alexis Bledel, meanwhile, was 19 when she began playing Lane's best friend, 16-year-old Rory Gilmore.

18 out of 20

Alan Ruck in “Ferris Bueller's Day Off”

Paramount Pictures

As noted, Jennifer Gray was much older than her character in Ferris Bueller's Day Off, just like Alan Ruck. The actor was 29 when he played a high school student.

Fox of the twentieth century

There's a reason why the teenagers we see in movies look nothing like the teenagers we know in real life. Jesse Metcalfe played teen heartthrob John Tucker in John Tucker must die at 28 in real life.

20 out of 20

Ben Platt in “Dear Evan Hansen”

Images of the perfect world

Ben Platt was in his early 20s when he originated the role of 17-year-old Evan Hansen on Broadway. However, by the time he reprized the role for the film adaptation, he was 27 years old. Many viewers like to have the original stage actor play the same role in the film adaptation, but in this case it seemed a bit odd.

Acacia is a South Dakota-based writer who loves all things pop culture, especially music, television, and celebrities. His previous works can be found on Nicki Swift and Mashed. When she's not writing, Acacia watches TV, listens to music, solves crosswords, or reads.

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