10 Celebs Who Were Too Young For Their Roles (And 10 Who Were Too Old)

We often see celebrities performing a role where they are too young or too mature for their roles. Of course, being an actor and performing roles isn’t a child’s play, and it takes strength and determination to actually mold oneself according to the role given to them. It’s not something unheard of that actors play characters who are a different age than them.

Often, there are characters who play the role of a high schooler when they are actually in their 20’s, or we see characters playing a role that requires a lot of maturity and they are still too young. Most of the time, we see someone too old for a role and playing it so well that it leaves us questioning whether the person has gotten old or not. They truly absorb themselves in the roles. This is why we set out on a quest to take a look at some of the most famous examples of celebrities who are either too young for these roles or too old, and there are quite a few names that you might not have ever guessed; so sit back, relax, and read on through.

20 Natalie Portman as Mathilda (Young)

Some of the most mature roles that are taken by child stars leave people questioning the artistic intent of the director, as in the case of Natalie Portman. This actress, Natalie Portman, was just 11 years old when she was cast as Mathilda, in Leon, The Professional, who is known to be the spunky hitman-in-training in Luc Besson’s 1994 film. This role required a lot of maturity, as she was just 11 years old and was made to do scenes that included smoking, which her parents had strictly forbidden.

There were some more violent scenes that were very intense emotionally and were quite a challenge for a girl as young as her age. There is no doubt that Portman gave an incredible performance, despite being so young for the role and having no experience before, but the film also includes a lot of controversial aspects where she has to get into a romantic relationship with the adult hitman and another scene where Mathilda goes to a restaurant with Leon and gets drunk. After some screen tests, some other scenes were cut for the American release as the audience found them a little inappropriate.

19 Jodie Foster as Iris (Young)

Another celebrity who was too young for the role that she played was Jodie Foster as Iris in Taxi Driver. Foster began acting in commercials at a very young age but stepped into industry at the age of 12 when she played a significant role in Taxi Driver after which she got nominated for the Best Supporting Actress award. Foster had to participate in a four-hour interview with a psychiatrist so that it could be made sure that she will be able to pull off the role that she was given to perform.

She came under the protection and investigation of the Los Angeles Welfare Board for her role in the film. Foster was only 12 years old at the time, so there had to be a child welfare worker on set whenever she had a scene. According to Foster, some of the roles given to her were very uncomfortable, and she wasn’t even given proper instructions and made it awkward for her character. Sometimes, Scorsese would ask her to perform a role and would start laughing without explaining to her properly about what was meant to be performed. He then handed it over to Robert De Nero, and Robert would tell her what to do.

18 Tobey Maguire as Spiderman (Old)

Recently, Spider Man: Homecoming was released where most of the viewers had praised the energetic performance of the actor, Tom Holland. We also see Tobey Maguire doing the role of Peter Parker when he was 27 years old. The movie released in the year, 2002. Though there was a huge difference between his age and the role he was playing, the viewers never bought a significant difference between the actor and the character.

What is even more eye opening is that the film, Spider Man 3, was released after a few events of the first movie, where Maguire was 32 years old. Every time Maguire is seen as Peter, performing on the big screen, deep inside, we all know that something is wrong, despite the fact that he may have been great while doing the role of Parker. Basically, he took off his career in the late ’90s until the mid-2000’s, and this was the time when he was one of those actors who were highly in demand in Hollywood. So, while featuring him, casting directors never fussed that he is 32 years old. Age probably never mattered to them; hence why he was given the role in Spider Man 3.

17 Leonardo DiCaprio as Frank Abagnale (Old)

We can only name a few actors who have a career as diverse as Leonardo Dicaprio, as he is one of the finest actors of his generation. Few will definitely accuse him of underperforming his role in Catch Me If You Can where he is seen as Frank Abagnale, an American con man. It was a film directed and co-produced by Steven Spielberg and is an American biographical crime film. Here, Frank performed cons worth a million dollars before his 19th birthday.

This is an indication that Leonardo DiCaprio actually took a role for which he was too old. In another movie, released in 2002, he is seen as a high school student of 17 years old when, in reality, he was 28 years old while filming. This is all because Leonardo began attracting the attention of all the producers and directors, which is why he was approached to play such roles for which he was too old. Acting a little mature might be easier than acting young when, in reality, you are old but we see how beautifully Leonardo has every time amazed the viewers and has now made his way to being one of the famous American actors.

16 Brooke Shields as Violet (Young)

Teri Shields, Brooke Shields’ mother, got complaints about letting her young daughter participate in such projects that required a very mature act when Brooke Shields was a very young girl. Another controversial move was made by her mother after signing off a photo shoot with Gary Gross where a ten-year-old Shields was featured wearing a lot of heavy makeup. Another subject of intense debate is from the film, Pretty Baby, by Louis Malle where Brooke Shields had to do a number of scenes that required a lot of maturity and she was too young to perform in.

She was only 11 years old when she performed the role but Shields herself says that she has no regrets regarding that role. As Shields always believed in herself and gave less attention to all that criticism that has been thrown her way, she is now an American actress, model, and a former child star. She was initially a child model, and even after a lot of criticism, she continued her career and modelled into her late teens. She has proved that she is capable of so much more than her early films. Her broad range of work would be quite an accomplishment for anyone, especially given how difficult it is to transform from a child actor to an adult.

15 Dakota Fanning as Lewellen (Young)

The film, Hounddog, featuring Dakota Fanning as Lewellen, made major waves upon its release— in a very negative way. The plot is centered on Lewellen, a very loving young girl who is brought up in a broken family. The movie, later on, shocked the audiences and the critics alike because the story further leads to tales showing a lot of neglect and emotional abuse.

Physical abuse is also featured. A scene where Fanning is physically abused by an acquaintance shocks the audience because she was too young for the role to be performed by her. The scene does not show the child’s body and only Fanning’s hands and face can be seen, but the backlash was very intense by critics and the viewers. Due to this, the film failed to find a wide release and only earned $131,000. Anyhow, Fanning came to the defense on the criticism and dismissed the furor by saying that it is a movie and that whatever she was doing was acting. In reality, nothing happened to her, and she didn’t get affected.

14 Rachel McAdams as Regina George (Old)

The main antagonist of the movie, Mean Girls, Rachel McAdams, is another actress who makes her way to this list of celebrities who are too old for their roles. Mean Girls is an all-time favorite movie because any girl who doesn’t see a bit of herself in the movie is actually kidding herself. Also, it is one of those movies that never gets old for anybody. Here, we see Rachel playing the role of Regina George, and since she is incredible when it comes to acting, she wasn’t fooling anyone with her age.

We all know she is a natural stunner and to our surprise, she was 27 years old at the time when she played the role of a 17-year-old bully. Throughout the movie, she is seen as very intelligent and ruthless. She was referred to as Queen Bee and was capable of doing everything that was in her power, in order to get everything she ever wanted. In Mean Girls, we see her always being followed by her best friends and the way she maintained a dual role throughout the movie, by showing mutual respect to Cady and also being manipulative, was truly amazing.

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13 Jason Earles as Jackson Stewart (Old)

Alright, now, this one is strange and bizarre. For all those who have been unfamiliar with this, Jason Earles was the one playing the role of Jackson Stewart. He was an awkward and annoying teenager who was best friends with Miley’s title character, Hannah. Another thing to our surprise is that he was double the age of Miley, yes! Earles was 30 at the time when he was doing this role in the hit Disney series, Hannah Montana.

But as he has a natural baby face, this might have been the reason why directors were not swayed by his age. Throughout the show, he is seen as an indifferent student who is making jokes and is the comic relief of the series. He is more interested in video games and girls than his school work. In the show, his storylines always form a comedic subplot. It must have been a difficult task for Earles, as his age was a lot more than the role he was given, but he pulled it off greatly by actually absorbing himself in the character and being the kind of student who is always into sports and likes to have fun around.

12 Kirsten Dunst as Claudia (Young)

Our list of the young actors who did mature projects wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Kirsten Dunst as Claudia in Interview with the Vampire. She was only five years old when she was turned into a vampire in the book series that the movie was based on, and since, obviously, a five-year-old couldn’t be featured as a vampire, the producers cast Kirsten Dunst, who was only 11 years old, to perform that part.

The role, of course, included a lot more other than her being the vampire. It included a great amount of anger, violence, and insanity. Also, she turned into a vampire when she still is a child, and that was shown as her being mature when her body was still that of a child’s. Claudia completely embodies the idea of an old soul. It shows how she is trapped for eternity in a body of a child and is mentally an adult woman. But, to her credit, Dunst as Claudia really pulled off the role of being a vampire given to her in a very incredible manner and showed this dichotomy very amazingly by portraying all of her conflicting emotions all at once.

11 Dominique Swain as Lolita (Young)

This movie proved to be extremely controversial, even at the time when it premiered because Lolita, from Vladimir Nabokov’s classic novel, is another prime example of a young child who was placed in a very mature situation. Vladimir Nabokov’s, Lolita, has received two major film adaptations. The first film was directed by Stanley Kubrick in 1962, which was adopted by a novel and had a more symbolic take on Nabokov’s controversial matter. The film has the middle-aged character, Humbert, become very much obsessed with Lolita, who is the daughter of his landlord.

This film was controversial in itself in the late-’60s because, at that time, Swain was only 14 when the filming was started. Even though Kubrick tried his best to ignore all that content that would lead to criticism and controversies, it still had controversies at the time of its premiere. Even after a lot of criticism, she was up for a remake 30 years later. After so many decades, the movie was as controversial as ever, but the movie faced a lot of problems finding an American distributor and ended up soon.

10 Colin Farrell as Alexander (Old)

One of the most diverse resumes we find in Hollywood is of Colin Farrell. These are from the dark comedies, like In Bruges, to sci-fi thrillers, like the Total Recall remake. The role he was given wasn’t exactly the one he would become known for but in the year, 2004, he got lucky by chance and got an opportunity to play one of the greatest conquerors of all times, Oliver Stone’s Alexander the Great. But, the film is massively disjointed, despite the fact that Farrell did the best he could in the titular role. Alexander was torn apart on its release by the critics.

Another very disturbing thing about the whole movie was that Angelia Jolie was cast as the mother of Farrell who, in reality, is just the same age as of Farrell or hardly one year older than him. And due to this narrow age difference, it is less convincing for the viewers to see them as mother and son, rather than as siblings. Ultimately, what we could conclude is that either someone older should have been casted on Jolie’s part or someone younger on Farrell’s part to make it a big success.

9 Halle Berry as Genius (Old)

After winning her Oscar in Monster’s Ball in the year 2001, Halle Berry captivated the audiences with all her beauty and talent as she has been doing in the past. Since her breakout role in 2000’s X-Men, she had been a Hollywood starlet. She, after winning her Oscar, took a few less critically regarded roles, one of which then led her to 2010’s thriller, Frankie and Alice.

This movie is inspired by the remarkable true story of an African American go-go dancer named ‘Frankie’ and is all about her fighting with the multiple personality disorder. She is between constant battles of two distinct alter egos. No matter what the critics were, all the hard work of Berry was convincing enough to score and paving her a way to being nominated for the Emmy Award nomination for her acting, although, a lot of viewers couldn’t help feeling that she was slightly miscast in the part. At the time of the release of Frankie and Alice, Berry was around 44 years old and the movie’s material wanted an actress slightly younger than a go-go dancer in her mid-40s, though she had been fantastic in her role.

8 Macaulay Culkin as Henry (Young)

There have been a lot of movies, especially horror and thriller, where there are evil children, but no one played the role of an evil child better than Macaulay Culkin in the year 1993 in the movie, The Good Son. He is just plain bad, and there is no supernatural element driving his penchant for murder. In the movie, when the very kind-hearted, Mark (Elijah Wood), is sent on a winter vacation to meet his extended family, things get very dark when he meets his cousin, Henry (Culkin).

From here on, things become very evident when he shows his psychopathic tendencies and causes a freeway pileup where he attempts to take his own sister’s life, his cousin, Mark’s, and even his own mother’s. For the viewers, it becomes quite a challenge to decide what’s more disturbing— seeing a 12-year-old who just tries to hurt everyone who passes by him or to try to ignore that the same actor (who has played the role of an evil child incredibly) played the mischievous and a kind role in Home Alone. Another interesting thing about the movie is that the little sister in the film was Culkin’s real-life sister, Quinn, and she was only eight when The Good Son was filmed.

7 Jacob Reynolds as Solomon (Young)

Nothing can top the 1997 dystopian art film, Gummo, when it comes to disturbing scenarios and child actors who were too young for the roles given to them during featuring the film. Gummo was directed and written by Harmony Korine and featured on this list for 1995’s kids. The movie is mainly based on the broken lives of several residents and the aftereffects of that devastating tornado.

Korine presents audiences with an interconnected series of scenes and eschews the traditional storytelling methods. It also offers a glimpse of demoralization, depths of poverty, and depravity. At the time of filming, Jacob Reynolds was a 13-year-old boy and plays the role of Solomon, one of the two fictional Xenia residents. In the movie, Jacob is made to do a number of scenes that were too mature for his age. He and his friend had to pass time by harming cats, huffing glue, and other disturbing acts. It was due to these reasons that most of the critics panned the film for its pervasive graphic content but still, Gummo was lauded by a number of filmmakers including the very famous director, Werner Herzog.

6 Kevin Spacey as Darin (Old)

Since now, we have been talking about the great celebrities who were too old for their roles, we cannot forget Kevin Spacey as Darin in Beyond the Sea. Kevin Spacey, a famous American actor, singer, and producer, began his career as a stage actor in the year 1980’s, even before he obtained the supporting roles in television and films. He got his big break in the movies with 1992’s, Glengarry Glen Ross. He is known to be the most consistent players in Hollywood.

We see Kevin being starred in a number of films, sometimes, as a villain and sometimes, as a protagonist. In the year 2004, he took on his biggest challenge, directing, writing and starring in a big screen biographical drama of the “Mack the Knife” singer, Bobby Darin. As Darin was supposed to be in his 20’s or 30’s, Spacey was 45 at the time of its release, which is why it received less than favorable reviews, despite an all-star cast. No doubt Kevin Spacey is a magnetic performer, he also was not good enough to convince the audience that a 40-year-old man would be able to play a 20-something-year-old singer.

5 Mel Gibson as Hamlet (Old)

The main casting choice in 1990’s, Hamlet, seems like a bad decision. There is no denying the fact that there was not a bigger star on the planet during the ’80s and ’90s than Mel Gibson. The Lethal Weapon actor was nabbing roles in about every other thing, including the famous Shakespeare adaptations like Hamlet. But this all was before his fall from the Hollywood stardom. Mel Gibson is known to be the one who leads an all-star cast in William Shakespeare’s greatest tragedy, which is the story of a Danish prince, named Hamlet.

But we see that there lies the problem of an age gap in the featuring of the movie. Had the character and the actor been the same age, it might have been a great success. The 1990’s version of Hamlet isn’t a masterpiece, and it also is not the worst of Shakespeare’s movie out there. It is all because Mel Gibson was 37 years old at the time he played the classic character and Hamlet was originally written to be in his late-20’s. Another mistake was casting the actress, Glenn Close, who is known to be Hamlet’s mother Gertrude, because she was just 9 years older than Gibson.

4 Chloe Grace Moretz as Hit Girl (Young)

While writing about the kids who were too young for their roles, we cannot skip Chloe Grace Moretz, who made her way to the big screen debut in the year 2005 in the remake of The Amityville Horror. She was just six years old when she started her acting career, and she later reported that the film’s crew and her parents did their best that they kept her away from learning what was actually happening in the movie, and surprisingly, she wasn’t allowed to watch the movie when it was premiered.

In the movie, Chloe plays Chelsea and befriends the ghost of a girl haunting their new home. Just a few years later, she landed the roles for which she is best known. A vigilante costumed hero in the movie Hit Girl and later in Kick-Ass and its sequel, Kick-Ass 2, which was released in 2013. Compared to a lot of superheroes and little girls, this movie, Hit Girl, is a nihilistic and hardened figure. Throughout the movie, Chloe is seen kicking butt with reckless and bloody abandon and all her dialogues are peppered with secular one-liners. Kick-Ass also met a lot of criticism upon its release and received R rating, which blocked the 11-year-old from watching her own movie.

3 Entire Cast of Kids (Young)

To our list of celebrities who were given very mature roles while they were too young, Harmony Korine makes a second appearance, and this time, as the writer of Kids, released in 1995 and directed by Larry Clark. The film is all about the lives of kids whose parents no longer have control of their lives and they decide to indulge in all sorts of unhealthy activities. The kids are seen in some unbelievably disturbing situations where one is infected by HIV, another using illegal substances, and some engaging themselves in serious risky behaviors throughout the movie.

The cast of the movie included several real life New York street kids who never had an acting experience before. This includes Leo Fitzpatrick, who was 16 years old at the time of filming. The rest of the cast included a number of other teenagers, including Rosario Dawson, who was 15 years old and was the youngest. We also see Justin Pierce, Chloe Sevigny, and Jon Abraham. Jon was 16 years old. Harold Hunter was the eldest and was 19 years old. At the time of its release, the movie was rated NC-17 and made waves when it was premiered while some criticized as well.

2 Keiko Agena as Lane Kim (Old)

For everyone who is fond of watching TV shows, Gilmore Girls might not always pop up as a good idea for their leisure time, but there is absolutely no denying how successful it has been. One of the very famous actresses in the show was nowhere near the age of the character she was playing. Keiko Agena played the character, Lane Kim, who was 15 years old when in actuality, Agena was 37 years old.

But, Hawaiian actresses are a clear beauty, which is why she doesn’t look anywhere near 15. As many people say, that Lane Kim is the most underrated character of Gilmore Girls, it is always an underestimation, as Keiko Agena was the one who helped in bringing Lane Kim on screen for all of us. Lane blossomed from being a quietly rebelling high schooler into a very mature and confident mother-of-two. In Gilmore Girls, she is introduced as a girl who hides her undying love for ‘evil music rock’ from her traditional Korean parents. Keiko, despite her age, did a great job by getting into a role of a 15-year-old and this might be a reason for the success of Gilmore Girls.

1 Barbara Streisand as Yentl (Old)

When it comes to passion and dreams, most people overlook all other things, as they do not seem relevant when they step up to achieving their goals. This is the case with Barbara Streisand. She is the one who always had that star power and made her passion project a huge success by playing a role of a 17-year-old girl who dresses up like a boy so she can learn the Talmudic law.

She leaves Agena’s age gap behind as it is a little more baffling to know how the legendary, Barbara Streisand managed to convince the directors, producers, and studio heads to let her take the role of that 17-year-old student when, in reality, she was 41 years old. She was determined and courageous, put all her faith in herself, and did the leading role of Yentl. Yentl is basically an American musical and romantic drama and is based on the short story of the singer, Isaac Bashevis. Barbara portrays Yentl Mendel, a girl living in an Ashkenazi shtetl named Pechev in Poland. Due to this and a number of other reasons, Barbara has achieved success in multiple fields.

References: Ranker, OMG Lane, Looper, Screen Rant

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