It’s said that age is just a mindset — and Hollywood seems to take this idea to heart. When it was announced that 38-year-old John Lloyd Young (above) would play a 16-year-old Frankie Valli in the cinematic version of Jersey Boys, we decided to look back at some other memorable parts from older actors playing much younger roles.
The West Wing star first made her mark as Betty Rizzo in the 1978 movie Grease. At 34, Channing nearly stole the show as a sassy teen, despite being twice the age of the average high school student. The role earned her a People’s Choice Award for favorite motion picture supporting actress.
Do you believe in magic? The Scottish actress must have cast a spell to play Moaning Myrtle in the 2002 “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.” At 37, the “Trainspotting” star was the oldest actor to play a Hogwarts student in the Harry Potter films.
More like Mean Women. The Notebook star was 25 when she played high school student Regina George in 2004’s “Mean Girls.” Despite the age difference, the role earned her raves: The Daily Telegraph called her “delightfully hateful” and she scored two MTV movie awards for her performance.
As if! Cher’s BFF in Clueless must have been held back a quite a few grades: Dash was 28 when she starred in the 1995 high school comedy as the equally clueless Dionne alongside Alicia Silverstone — and it’s hard to imagine anyone else in that part.
Those sunglasses. That cigarette holder. The little black dress. Audrey Hepburn’s Holly Golightly in the 1961 Breakfast at Tiffany’s is a classic. Based on the book of the same name, the character was written to be in her late teens. The part aged with Hepburn when it came to screen: She was 31 at the time it was filmed and worried she had been miscast. Instead, the star turned out a knockout performance, which earned her an Oscar nomination for best actress.
The actress, who also wrote the Sense and Sensibility screenplay, initially considered herself too old for the role of 19-year-old Elinor. Director Ang Lee suggested that the then-35-year-old actress change the age of the spinster to 27. She agreed. The 1995 film was a major success, snagging multiple Academy Award nominations and an Oscar for Thompson’s screenplay.
Michael J. Fox
Talk about a time warp. The actor was 24 when he first played the part of teenager Marty McFly in the 1985 blockbuster “Back to the Future”— not to mention 29 when the third of the trilogy was released. No matter: We can all agree that the actor is pretty much ageless. At 53, and battling Parkinson’s disease, Fox could still practically pass for a kid.
Photo credits: All photos by Everett Collection, except for Jersey Boys (Warner Bros.)