Skip To Content
  • Viral badge

50 Adult Actors Who Played Teenagers Onscreen Whether They Looked The Part Or Not

The Karate Kid was really a karate adult!

1. Darren Barnet is currently 30 playing 16-year-old Paxton on Never Have I Ever.

A shirtless Darren Barnet in "Never Have I Ever"
Netflix / Courtesy Everett Collection

2. Stockard Channing was 33 when she played Rizzo in Grease.

Rizzo singing in "Grease"
Paramount / Courtesy Everett Collection

3. And Michael Tucci was 31 when he played Sonny in Grease.

Michael Tucci talking to a teacher in "Grease"
Paramount Pictures

4. Gabrielle Union was 27 when she played a high school senior in Bring It On.

Gabrielle Union as Isis in "Bring It On"
Universal / Courtesy Everett Collection

5. Emma Thompson was 36 when she played 19-year-old Elinor Dashwood in Sense and Sensibility.

Emma Thompson and Kate Winslet in "Sense and Sensibility"
Columbia Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection

6. Stacey Dash played 16-year-old Dionne in Clueless when she was 28.

Stacey Dash and Alicia Silverstone "Clueless"
Paramount / Courtesy Everett Collection

7. Chad Michael Murray played a high school senior in A Cinderella Story despite being 22 at the time.

Chad Michael Murray in a high school football uniform
Warner Bros. / Courtesy Everett Collection

8. Judd Nelson was 25 when he played the eternally angsty Bender in The Breakfast Club.

Bender smoking a cigarette in "The Breakfast Club"
Universal Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection

9. Jennifer Grey was a full decade older than 17-year-old Baby when she filmed Dirty Dancing.

Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze in "Dirty Dancing"
Artisan Entertainment / Courtesy Everett Collection

10. Tobey Maguire was 26 when he played 17-year-old Peter Parker in Spider-Man.

A shirtless Tobey Maguire in "Spider-Man"
Columbia Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection

11. Meanwhile, Andrew Garfield was 29 when he put on the spider suit in The Amazing Spider-Man.

Andrew Garfield in "The Amazing Spider-Man"
Columbia Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection

12. Tom Holland was the most appropriately aged Peter Parker, but he was still 21 playing 15 in Spider-Man: Homecoming.

Tom Holland in the Spider-Man suit
Columbia Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection

13. Rachel McAdams was 25 when she played Regina George in Mean Girls.

Rachel McAdams and the cast of "Mean Girls"
Paramount / Courtesy Everett Collection

14. At 29, Alan Ruck was much too old to be skipping school in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off!

Alan Ruck and Matthew Broderick in "Ferris Bueller's Day Off"
Paramount / Courtesy Everett Collection

15. Despite being 28, Chase Stokes plays 16-year-old John B on Outer Banks.

Chase Stokes in "Outer Banks"
Netflix / Courtesy Everett Collection

16. Cole Sprouse was 25 when he first started playing 15-year-old Jughead Jones on Riverdale.

Cole Sprouse sitting at a diner in "Riverdale"
The CW / Courtesy Everett Collection

17. Winona Ryder played 18-year-old Susanna in Girl, Interrupted when she was 28.

Winona Ryder writing in a journal in "Girl, Interrupted"
Kushner-Locke Co. / Courtesy Everett Collection

18. Ralph Macchio was 22 when he played Daniel Laruso, so The Karate Kid was actually a karate adult!

Ralph Macchio cleaning a deck in "The Karate Kid"
Columbia Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection

19. Nicola Coughlan is 33 playing a 16-year-old on Derry Girls.

Nicola Coughlan and Louisa Clare Harland on "Derry Girls"
Channel 4 / Courtesy Everett Collection

20. Gabourey Sidibe was 26 when she played 16-year-old Precious in Precious.

Gabourey Sidibe in "Precious"
Lions Gate / Courtesy Everett Collection

21. Channing Tatum was 26 when he played Duke Orsino in She's the Man.

A shirtless Channing Tatum in "She's the Man"
Dreamworks / Courtesy Everett Collection

22. Daenerys Targaryen was supposed to be 15 years old at the start of Game of Thrones, but Emilia Clarke was 25.

Emilia Clarke as Daenerys in "Game of Thrones"

23. Leonardo DiCaprio played a 17-year-old con artist in Catch Me if You Can when he was 28.

Leonardo DiCaprio walking with a group of flight attendants in "Catch Me if You Can"
DreamWorks / Courtesy Everett Collection

24. Barbra Streisand played a 17-year-old in Yentl, despite being 41 at the time of filming!

Barbra Streisand holding a dish in "Yentl"
Everett Collection / Everett Collection

25. Tom Welling starred as 14-year-old Clark Kent even though the actor was 24 when Smallville premiered.

Warner Bros. / Courtesy Everett Collection

26. Henry Winkler was 28, a full decade older than the Fonz, on Happy Days.

The Fonz celebrating a birthday on "Happy Days"
Paramount / Courtesy Everett Collection

27. Ncuti Gatwa is 28 but currently plays 17-year-old Eric on Sex Education.

Ncuti Gatwa and Asa Butterfield on "Sex Education"
Netflix / Courtesy: Everett Collection

28. Francia Raisa was certainly "grown" when she played a first-year college student at the age of 31 on Grown-ish.

Francia Raisa, Emily Arlook, and Yara Shahidi in "Grown-ish"
Freeform / Courtesy Everett Collection

29. Timothy Granaderos was 31 when he played 16-year-old Monty on 13 Reasons Why.

Dylan Minnette and Timothy Granaderos on "13 Reasons Why"
David Moir / Netflix / Courtesy Everett Collection

30. Rebel Wilson played 18-year-old Fat Amy in Pitch Perfect when she was 32.

Rebel Wilson singing in "Pitch Perfect"
Universal / Courtesy Everett Collection

31. Annie was 19 in Season 1 of Community, but Alison Brie was 27 when the show began.

Joel McHale and Alison Brie in a Community College library
NBC / Courtesy Everett Collection

32. Ashleigh Murray was 28 when she started playing Josie McCoy on Riverdale.

Ashleigh Murray performing as Josie
The CW Network / Courtesy Everett Collection

33. Dominique Fishback was 29 when she played the street-smart teenager Robin in Project Power.

Dominique Fishback in "Project Power"
Netflix / Courtesy Everett Collection

34. Florence Pugh played 13-year-old Amy March in Little Women at 22.

Florence Pugh as young Amy
Columbia Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection

35. Wood Harris played a teen football star in Remember the Titans when he was 31.

Wood Harris and Ryan Hurst in football uniforms
Buena Vista Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection

36. Keiko Agena was 27 when she started playing 16-year-old Lane on Gilmore Girls.

Lane and Rory on "Gilmore Girls"
The CW / Courtesy Everett Collection

37. Mae Whitman played a high school senior in The Duff when she was 26.

Mae Whitman holding a pair of underwear in "The Duff"
Lionsgate / Courtesy Everett Collection

38. Antwon Tanner started playing 16-year-old Skills on One Tree Hill when he was 28.

Antwon Tanner playing basketball on "One Tree Hill"
The CW / Courtesy Everett Collection

39. Shirley Henderson was 37 when she first appeared as 14-year-old Moaning Myrtle in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.

Moaning Myrtle in "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets"
Warner Bros. Pictures

40. Crystal Reed was 27 when she played 16-year-old Allison Argent in Teen Wolf.

Crystal Reed looking surprised on "Teen Wolf"

41. Taylor Kitsch was 25 playing a sophomore in high school on Friday Night Lights.

Taylor Kitsch in a football uniform
NBC / Courtesy Everett Collection

42. Jessica Barden was 28 when she played 17-year-old Alyssa on The End of the F***ing World.

Jessica Barden laying in the grass on "The End of the F***ing World"
Netflix / Courtesy Everett Collection

43. Jason Earles was 28 when he started playing 15-year-old Jackson Stewart on Hannah Montana.

Jason Earles and Moises Arias on "Hannah Montana"
Disney Channel / Courtesy Everett Collection

44. Ross Butler was 10 years older than his 13 Reasons Why character at the start of Season 1.

Katherine Langford and Ross Butler on "13 Reasons Why"
Netflix / Courtesy Everett Collection / Everett Collection

45. Bianca Lawson was 33 when she played 17-year-old Maya St. Germain on Pretty Little Liars.

Bianca Lawson on "Pretty Little Liars"
Randy Holmes / Disney General Entertainment Content via Getty Images

46. Alexa Demie was 29 when she played 17-year-old Maddy Perez on the first season of Euphoria.

Alexa as Maddy looking anguished

47. Cory Monteith was 27 when he first started playing 16-year-old Finn Hudson on Glee.

Lea Michele and Cory Monteith on "Glee"
20thCentFox / Courtesy Everett Collection

48. Jesse Metcalfe was 28 when he played the serial cheater John Tucker in John Tucker Must Die.

Jesse Metcalfe and Sophia Bush in "John Tucker Must Die"
20thcentfox / Courtesy Everett Collection

49. Drew Seeley was 26 when he played a high school senior in Another Cinderella Story.

Selena Gomez and Drew Seeley looking at each other through a mirror in "Another Cinderella Story"
Warner Bros. / Courtesy Everett Collection

50. And finally, Meredith Monroe played high school sophomore Andie McPhee on Dawson’s Creek when she was 29.

Kerr Smith and Meredith Monroe in Dawson's Creek
Sony Pictures Television / Courtesy Everett Collection

TV and Movies

Get all the best moments in pop culture & entertainment delivered to your inbox.

Newsletter signup form