Mismatched Casting: 15 Young Roles Played by Older Actors

Casting is a delicate balance for any movie or TV series. It would help if you had an actor who fits the part perfectly in looks and personality, but that's not always possible. In some cases, it seems like the casting director struggled with finding an appropriate talent that fit both the desired age and personality. So, they overlooked one aspect and went with their gut.

Members of an internet forum recently discussed actors that they felt were too old for role a role.

1. Henry Thomas

Hugh Crain in The Haunting of Hill House
Image Credit: Netflix.

Don’t feel embarrassed if you didn’t realize Henry Thomas’ character in Mike Flanagan’s The Haunting of Hill House was the same as Timothy Hutton’s. While there was a 26-year time jump between their roles as a younger and older Hugh Crain, the actors are only 11 years apart in age and look even closer than that.

2. Stellan Skarsgard

Father Lankester in front of a statue of Pazuzu
Image Credit: Morgan Creek.

You really need to understand the timeline of The Exorcist for this one, but, as one forum member notes, Stellan Skarsgard was way too old for his role in The Exorcist: Beginning. In the movie, Skarsgard plays a younger version of Max von Sydow’s Father Lankester Merrin from The Exorcist. The problem? Skarsgard was 53 while filming Beginning while Sydow was 43 while filming The Exorcist. In fact, Sydow was made to look older by famed artist Dick Smith to fit the role in the William Friedkin adaptation.

3. Seth Rogan

Superbad Seth Rogen
Image Credit: Sony Pictures Releasing.

Rogan was initially meant to play a younger version of himself in the 2007 comedy loosely based on his own life in Superbad. However, Jonah Hill was cast to play Seth instead. According to several forum members, this was an unusual decision since Hill is only a year younger than Rogan, so playing a teenager graduating high school when the actor is in his 30s seems an odd casting choice. 

4. Robert de Niro

The Irishman Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Ray Romano
Image Credit: Netflix.

The actor played a younger version of himself in The Irishman, and while fans felt that de-aging someone a couple of decades was fine, getting a man in his 70s to look like he's in his 20s was clearly a feat the filmmakers were not up for. 

5. Alan Rickman

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban Alan Rickman
Image Credit: Warner Bros.

One commenter felt the late Rickman was too old to play Snape in the Harry Potter series. Another said that most of the adult cast needed to be younger for the characters they're meant to be portrayed in the books. It seems the casting director wanted to include most of the United Kingdom's elite acclaimed actors in the production, so age was probably never considered.

6. Fabien Frankel

House of the Dragon Fabien Frankel
Image Credit: HBO Entertainment.

House of the Dragon made some very odd casting decisions. The story's timeline jumps significantly throughout season one, so it stands to reason that all the actors need to age in appearance. The actresses who portrayed Rhaenyra Targaryen and Alicent Hightower were swapped for older actresses. In contrast, Paddy Considine was in the makeup artist chair to age up for his role as King Viserys Targaryen.

The one that had fans scratching their heads was that Fabien Frankel, who played Ser Criston Cole, seems to have found the fountain of youth as he didn't age at all during the 20 years in which the story takes place. 

7. Florence Pugh

Little Women Florence Pugh
Image Credit: Sony Pictures Releasing.

Little Women is a classic American book, and several film adaptations have been extremely popular. In the 2019 version, Pugh attempted to play a much younger character in their pre-teens, which didn't sit well with some viewers. A 22-year-old playing an 18-year-old is understandable; a 22-year-old playing a 12-year-old takes much more effort. 

8. Josh Brolin

Men in Black 3 Josh Brolin, Alice Eve
Image Credit: Sony Pictures Releasing.

Instead of putting Tommy Lee Jones in makeup, the casting director of Men in Black 3 opted for Josh Brolin as a young Agent K. It still required over an hour in the makeup chair and prosthetics to get Brolin to look the way he did. However, fans were happy to dismiss his lack of youthful looks because they thought he did a great job as K. 

9. The Cast of Grease

Grease John Travolta, Olivia Newton-John
Image Credit: Paramount Pictures.

Finding an ensemble cast of multi-talented singing and dancing actors in the 70s might have been hard to achieve because most of Grease's cast were in their 20s and 30s and playing high schoolers. Olivia Newton-John, for example, was 29. However, casting director Joel Thum says it was a deliberate choice so that they all appeared similar ages to the main stars. 

10. Kevin Spacey

Beyond the Sea Kevin Spacey
Image Credit: Lions Gate Films.

Beyond the Sea is the story of singer Bobby Darin's rise to fame while he was in his 20s. When the movie came out in 2004, Spacey was 45 years old. Many fans felt he couldn't pull off being a 20-something Darrin—especially when the actress playing his love interest, Kate Bosworth, has a 24-year age difference. 

11. Robert Redford

The Natural Robert Redford
Image Credit: Tri-Star Pictures.

Redford is an iconic actor who's been in the business for most of his life. We all get that Hollywood takes some artistic license, but having a 48-year-old Redford play a teenage baseball star in The Natural was just an extremely odd choice.

12. Emma Thompson

Sense and Sensibility Emma Thompson, Kate Winslet
Image Credit: Sony Pictures Releasing.

Emma Thompson is a phenomenal actress and has had a fantastic career. Still, her role as Elinor Dashwood in the 1995 adaptation of Austen's Sense and Sensibility was strange, given the actress was a 36-year-old playing a character who is meant to be 19. Even Thompson said in interviews that she felt she was too old for the role. 

14. Ben Platt 

Dear Evan Hansen Amandla Stenberg, Ben Platt
Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

Dear Evan Hansen is a poignant musical about a high school student with social anxiety disorder who fabricates a story to get his peers to accept him. Many fans felt the then 25-year-old Ben Platt was too old to portray a teenager. However, no one can deny his brilliant singing talent. 

15. Michael C Hall

Image Credit: Showtime Networks.

Dexter is a dark drama, but it has its light-hearted moments, too. However, sticking a wig on an actor in his late 30s and getting him to pretend he was his younger teen self drew the sort of laughter that the show's producers didn't intend. Several forum members cited this example as one where they felt the casting director turned a blind eye to a poor choice. 

Source: Reddit.