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17 Actors Who Actually Played Characters Much Older Than Their Own Age

I cannot believe how young Keira Knightley was in Love Actually!

We all know that TV shows and movies tend to cast people wayyyy out of the age range of the characters. But most of the time, especially when it comes to kids and teenagers, the actors are much older than the characters they play.


Paramount/Courtesy Everett Collection

What about actors who actually played roles much older than their actual ages? Well, here are 17 actors who did just that!

1.

Angelina Jolie played a fully adult Colin Farrell’s mother in Alexander at age 29.


Warner Brothers / courtesy Everett Collection

Colin is only a year younger than her.

2.

Margot Robbie was newly 22 when she played Naomi in The Wolf of Wall Street. The character she was based on was in her mid-twenties to mid-thirties over the course of the events in the film.


Mary Cybulski/Paramount Pictures / courtesy Everett Collection

3.

Gloria Stuart was 87 when she played 100-year-old Rose in Titanic.


20th Century Fox / Courtesy Everett Collection

4.

Charlize Theron played Aileen from the ages of 33–36 in Monster, despite only being 28 herself.


Newmarket / courtesy Everett Collection

5.

Amy Poehler was only 33 when she played the mom of a high school junior in Mean Girls.

6.

Cher was 72 when Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again came out, playing the mother of 69-year-old Meryl Streep.


Universal Studios /Courtesy Everett Collection

To be fair, as Donna had Sophie pretty young, it’s possible Donna was supposed to be a lot younger than Meryl was.

7.

Jennifer Lawrence was only 21 when she played a widow in Silver Linings Playbook.


Paramount Pictures

While it’s definitely possible that a 21-year-old can be a widow, director David O. Russell intended the character to be older — he thought Jennifer was too young for the role, but her audition convinced him.

8.

Jennifer Lawrence was also 25 when she played housewife-turned-inventor Joy Mangano in Joy.


20th Century Fox /Courtesy Everett Collection

Jennifer played Joy Mangano at ages 34 and up, while she was only 25 when the move was released (and even younger when it was filmed).

9.

Laurence Fishburne was only 14 when he played a soldier in Apocalypse Now.


United Artists

He lied about his age to get the part.

10.

Sasha Pieterse, who played 15-year-old Alison, was 12 when the pilot for Pretty Little Liars began shooting.


ABC Family

Her costars Lucy Hale, Troian Bellisario, Shay Mitchell, and Ashley Benson were 20, 24, 23, and 20, respectively.

11.

Mila Kunis was 14 when she began playing the teenager Jackie on That ’70s Show.


Fox

Her costar (and now husband) Ashton Kutcher was 19.

12.

Sara Canning was only 22 when she started playing Aunt Jenna — Elena and Jeremy’s guardian — in The Vampire Diaries pilot, while Nina Dobrev (who played Elena) was only two years younger.


The CW

Several of her costars, who played teenagers, were older than her.

13.

Keira Knightley was only 18 when she played a bride in Love Actually.


Universal Pictures

This means she was only five years older than Thomas Brodie-Sangster, who played a little kid.

14.

Gwyneth Paltrow was only 22 when she played 32-year-old Brad Pitt’s wife in Se7en.


New Line Cinema

The characters were supposed to be high school sweethearts.

15.

Toni Collette played the mother of a 9-year-old in The Sixth Sense at age 26.


Buena Vista Pictures / courtesy Everett Collection

Again, possible, but definitely not the age the character was meant to be. Marisa Tomei (who is eight years older than her) was apparently considered first.

16.

Mandy Moore has played Rebecca from her early thirties to old age (but mostly in middle age) in This Is Us, despite starting filming the show at age 32.


NBC / Courtesy Everett Collection

Mandy started the show around the right age for Rebecca (32) as she had newborn triplets, but the vast majority of the scenes Mandy films are when the triplets are kids, teenagers, or adults, when Rebecca ranges in age from her late thirties to her sixties.

17.

And finally, Whoopi Goldberg played Celie in The Color Purple from an adult until her mid-forties, despite being only 30.


Warner Brothers / courtesy Everett Collection

Golberg has said before that she lied about her age at the beginning of her career, saying she was five years older, so it’s possible that was the case here.

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