There has been a trend in Hollywood for years which involves much older actors and actresses playing the role of teenagers. Some producers and directors may feel like actual teenagers may not be mature enough to play some of these roles, and they would rather let these kids enjoy their young lives. On the other hand, some people look at these older celebrities on television shows and movies and say “This person is too old to play that role.” To satisfy your curiosity, take a look at these actors and actresses who played teen roles but were actually old enough to play parents!
Charisma Carpenter – Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Actress Charisma Carpenter played the role of a chatty high school cheerleader by the name of Cordelia Chase on the supernatural horror hit television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer. When Charisma Carpenter first appeared as the teenage Cordelia she was 27 years old. She seemed a little bit too mature to be a teenager but she probably could have gotten away with playing a college cheerleader.
Shirley Henderson – Harry Potter
Shirley Henderson is an actress who played the character Myrtle Elizabeth Warren, otherwise known by the name Moaning Myrtle, in the Harry Potter series of films. The character is actually a ghost in the series who just happens to be a student. Shirley Henderson was 34 when she started playing Moaning Myrtle in Harry Potter.
Keiko Agena – Gilmore Girls
Keiko Agena is an actress who is perhaps best known for playing the role of teenager Lane Kim, who is Rory Gilmore’s best friend on the comedy-drama television series Gilmore Girls. She is known for being a bit rebellious on the show. Although this may be a trait that is associated with teenagers, Keiko Agena was 27 when she first made her appearance on the show.
Alan Ruck – Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
Alan Ruck is an actor who played Cameron Frye in the movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. The whole high school based movies of the 80’s were the in-thing back in those days (with other movies such as 16 Candles, Fast Times at Ridgemont High) and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off was one of those movies. Alan Ruck was 30 years old when this movie premiered.
Bianca Lawson – Pretty Little Liars
Bianca Lawson is the daughter of actor Richard Lawson. She played in Saved By the Bell back in 1993. She played a high school student in the television series. She then played a teenager Maya St. Germain years later in the movie Pretty Little Liars. Bianca was 34 years old playing a high school girl in the movie.
Henry Winkler – Happy Days
Eyyy! Henry Winkler is an actor who became very famous in the 70s for playing on a show in the mid 50’s called Happy Days. Winkler played the role of Arthur Fonzarelli, aka Fonzie or “The Fonz”. Fonzie was a teenage high school dropout / tough guy / friend to the Cunningham family. Winkler was 29 years old when he started playing The Fonz and was in his mid 30s when the series ended in 1984.
Sean Patrick Thomas – Save the Last Dance
Sean Patrick Thomas is an actor who played a teenager by the name of Derek Reynolds in the film Save the Last Dance. In the film, Sean Patrick Thomas’ character helps a girl named Sara (played by actress Julia Stiles) improve on her dancing skills. Sean Patrick Thomas was a high school kid in the film, but he was actually 30 years old playing a teenager in the film.
Gabrielle Carteris – Beverly Hills, 90210
Gabrielle Carteris was a cast member of the original Beverly Hills, 90210. Gabrielle Carteris played a 16-year-old Andrea Zuckerman. How did she get away with playing a 16 year old was baffling to many people. In actuality, Carteris was 29 years old when she played the role of Andrea Zuckerman.
Eric Christian Olsen – Fired Up
Eric Christian Olsen is perhaps most famous for playing Detective Marty Deeks on NCIS: Los Angeles. What you may not know is that Eric Christian Olsen played a high school teenage boy named Nick Brady in a high school comedy called Fired Up!. Olsen was 31 years old when he played this role.
Cory Monteith – Glee
Cory Monteith (May 11, 1982 – July 13, 2013) was a Canadian actor. Cory Monteith was best remembered for playing a dim-witted jock-turned-singer named Finn Hudson on Glee. Although the show and the characters are centered around high school, Monteith was 27 when he made his first appearance on the show.
Stacey Dash – Clueless
Stacey Dash is an actress who is a veteran in the world of acting. She is probably most known for playing a 17-year-old named Dionne Davenport in Clueless. Her co-star Alicia Silverstone was 18 when she played a 15-year-old in the movie Clueless. Stacey Dash was 28 and playing a 17-year-old!
Andrew Garfield – The Amazing Spider-Man
Andrew Garfield is an actor who is known for playing Peter Parker, your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man in the movie The Amazing Spider-Man. In most of the Spider-Man canon, Peter Parker is either a high school student or a college student. Andrew Garfield was 28 years old at the time playing the high school version of Peter Parker.
Trevor Donovan – 90210
Trevor Donovan played in the CW remake of the 90’s television series of Beverly Hills, 90210, known simply as 90210. It seems like the casting department kept with the same traditions as with the old version of the show by hiring older actors and actresses to play high school teens. Donavan played high school student Teddy Montgomery in the show. Donavan was 29 when he started playing the Teddy Montgomery character.
Audrey Hepburn – Breakfast at Tiffany’s
Audrey Hepburn ,in one of her most famous roles ever, played the role of an 18-year-old- woman by the name of Holly Golightly in the film Breakfast at Tiffany’s. There wasn’t a high school student in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, but at 18, she was around the age of a girl about to graduate high school. Hepburn, however, was 32 when she played iconic character.
Rachel McAdams – Mean Girls
Rachel McAdams is an actress originally from Canada. She acted in the comedy film Mean Girls In 2004. McAdams played the role of a teenage girl named Regina George who became an iconic character. During the production of this film, Rachel was actually 25 years of age.
Monique Coleman – High School Musical
Monique Coleman has appeared in such television and film works as The Suite Life of Zack and Cody and On_Line. Coleman is perhaps best known for playing the sagacious brainy teenager Taylor McKessie in High School Musical. Coleman was 27 years old when she played the Taylor McKessie role.
Jon Heder – Napoleon Dynamite
Jon Heder is both an actor and producer. He made his film debut in the film Napoleon Dynamite. In this film, he plays the role of a nerdy and socially aloof teenage boy named Napoleon Dynamite. At the time of the filming of Napoleon Dynamite, Heder was 26 years old.
Paul Wesley – Vampire Diaries
Paul Wesley is an actor and director. He is known for playing the vampire named Stefan Salvatore on the television series Vampire Diaries. It is a well-known fact that vampires live to be hundreds of years old, and so Paul Wesley is technically “young enough” to play this role. Paul Wesley was 27 years old when he played the 17-year-old vampire Stefan Salvatore.
Gabrielle Union – Bring It On
Gabrielle Union did seem like the perfect fit for a cheerleader in the film Bring it On. She played opposite Kirsten Dunst, who was 18 at the time and thus an appropriate age for a teenager in this movie. Gabrielle Union was 27 at the time this film came out. Gabrielle does make for a nice cheerleader despite the fact that she was a tad bit older than a high school student.
Taylor Kitsch – Friday Night Lights
Taylor Kitsch played the part of fullback Tim Riggins on the television series Friday Night Lights. Kitsch was 25 when the show premiered back in 2006. He could get away with playing a teenager on this television series — especially wearing a helmet. He has not played any teenage roles since.
Alison Brie – Community
Actress Alison Brie plays the role of a community college freshman by the name of Annie Edison on the NBC television series Community. She is supposed to have graduated out of high school and starting her college career. Alison Bree was just 26 when the show started. If she would have been a college graduate it would have been more understandable.
Alison Lohman – Flicka
Alison Lohman played in the film Flicka which was a film released back in 2006. The film is about a 14-year-old girl named Katy McLaughlin who befriends a horse in the film. Although Lohman was playing a 16 year old girl, she was actually almost 27. I can kind of see how she pulled it off.
Leonardo Dicaprio – Catch Me If You Can
Leonardo Dicaprio has been known for playing many types of characters. He has played a large range of characters of various ages. He has also played in a film called Catch Me If You Can in which he played a 16-year-old teenage boy. DiCaprio was actually 28 years old when he acted in the role of Frank Abagnale in the film.
Carey Mulligan – The Great Gatsby
Carey Mulligan is an English actress who played the role of Daisy Fay in The Great Gatsby. Daisy Fay is a 17 year old teenage girl in the film. Carey Mulligan was 28 years old in this film when the film came out. Leonardo DiCaprio was also in the film. He was 38 playing a 27 year old Jay Gatsby.
Michael J Fox – Back To the Future
Michael J. Fox is a legend in Hollywood. He is very well known for playing younger characters. He is best known for playing teenager Alex Keaton in the television series Family Ties. He also played the role of teenage time-traveler Marty McFly in the film Back to the Future. Fox was 24 when he played Marty McFly, which wasn’t a bad age.
Glynn Turman – Cooley High
Glynn Turman got away with playing a teenager in the film Cooley High. He played the role of Preacher Jackson, a high school student who is aspiring to become a writer. Glynn’s voice did not sound like the voice of a high school teenager, and he was 28 years old when he played in Cooley High.
Sissy Spacek – Carrie
Sissy Spacek is known for playing in Badlands, but perhaps best known for playing Carrie White in the supernatural horror classic Carrie. Spacek gets pushed to the limit and she opens up a supernatural can of whoop you know what on her tormenters. Sissy Spacek was 27 when she appeared in the film.
Tobey Maguire – Spider-Man
Tobey Maguire is well known for playing in several of the Spider-Man genre of films. He does have that teenage look about him and seemed convincing enough to play a teenage Peter Parker. In the first Spider-Man film, Maguire was 27 years old when he stepped in as high school student Peter Parker.
Selma Blair – Cruel Intentions
Selma Blair is an actress who has won several awards which include an MTV Award in 2000 and a Young Hollywoods Award in 2002. Blair won the MTV Award for best kiss for her role as Cecile in the film Cruel Intentions. She was 27 years old when she played in the film Cruel Intentions.
Ralph Macchio – The Karate Kid
Ralph Macchio definitely fit the role of Daniel Laruso in the classic film The Karate Kid. He looked like an actual teenager when he played Laruso in the film and he was very convincing. He was 23 years old when he played the role of Daniel Laruso and he probably had a lot of people fooled about his age.
Denise Richards – Wild Things
Denise Richards is an actress known for playing in such works as Starship Troopers, Drop Dead Gorgeous, The World is Not Enough, and Wild Thing. In the film Wild Thing, she plays the role of teenage Kelly Lanier Van Ryan. Richards was 27 years old when she acted in the film.
Matt Damon – Behind the Candelabra
Matt Damon played in the film Behind the Candelabra. How did Matt Damon get away with playing an 18 year old in this film is beyond many people. The film is about the life of famous musician Liberace. Matt Damon was an amazing 40 years old when he played an 18-year-old in the film.
Kenny Wormald – Footloose
Kenny Wormald is an actor and also a dancer and choreographer. It is only natural for him to play in movies in which dancing is the theme. He acted in the 2011 remake of the 1984 film Footloose. He was playing a teenager in the film, of course. Wormald was 27 years old when he starred in this film.
Jimmie Walker – Good Times
Jimmie Walker is an actor and comedian who became famous for his role of James Evans Jr., otherwise known as J.J., from the 70s television series Good Times. Walker was an 18-year-old high school student in the beginning of the series but he was 26 years old in real life. John Amos played his father in the series and in real life John Amos was eight years older than his onscreen “son”.
Ben McKenzie – The O.C.
Ben McKenzie is perhaps best known for playing the role of Ryan Atwood in the television series The O.C., and also played the character Ben Sherman in the NBC series Southland. McKenzie played the role of Ryan Atwood in the television series The O.C.. He was 25 when he began playing Atwood.
Emily Kinney – It’s Complicated
Emily Kinney is an American actress who has played in such television shows and films as The Flash, Arrow, Conviction, and several other films and television shows. Kinney is also known for playing the role of Beth Greene on the AMC channels television series The Walking Dead. Beth Greene is a 16-year-old teenager played by the 26-year-old Kinney.
Amber Riley – Glee
Amber Riley is an actress who has won a Screen Actors Guild Award. She has been nominated for several other awards including four NAACP Image Awards and two Teen Choice Awards. She is perhaps best known for her role as teenager Mercedes Jones on the television series Glee. She was 29 when she started on Glee.
Lucy Hale – Pretty Little Liars
Karen Lucille “Lucy” Hale is a singer and actress who is known for her role as Aria Montgomery on Pretty Little Liars. She won a People’s Choice Award for Favorite Cable TV actress of 2014 for her performance on Pretty Little Liars. Hale was 25 years old playing an 18-year-old Aria Montgomery on the Pretty Little Liars series.
Jason Earles – Hannah Montana
Actor Jason Earles is an actor and comedian. He played the role of Jackson Stewart on Disney’s Hannah Montana. Earles’ character was that of a high school teenage boy, but in reality Earles was 29 years old when the show premiered. Earles also was married and had a daughter at the time he was playing Jackson Steward.
Stockard Channing — Grease
Grease is the word! Actress Stockard Channing played the role of Betty Rizzo, the leader of the Pink Ladies at Rydell High School in the movie Grease. You may look at her and say that Channing does not look like a high school student. You would be correct in that assumption. Channing was 34 years old when she played the role of Rizzo.