ByElle McFarlane, writer at
'There's always someone younger and hungrier coming down the stairs after you.'
Elle McFarlane

Ahh the elixir of youth, that most elusive of potions which, in the absence of all plastic surgeons, A-list celebrities would undoubtedly kill for. To be eternally young on-screen is a feat that only a very rare few have ever managed to achieve and is usually done so naturally that us mere mortals barely even register that behind the child's gleeful face bouncing upon our screen, lies a haggard old crone.

However, after some intensive investigative journalism, we can now finally release this exclusive list of older celebrities who have played characters much younger than their on-screen selves. Prepare to have your mind well and truly blown.

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Emilia Clarke As Daenerys Targaryen In Game Of Thrones

Game Of Thrones [Credit: HBO]
Game Of Thrones [Credit: HBO]
  • On Screen Age: 16
  • Real Age: 24

While in the beginning of the book Series Daenerys is actually only supposed to be 13-years-old, her on screen counterpart was aged 3 years to 16, most probably to avoid all heated discussions concerning the age of consent within the 7 Kingdoms. However, Emilia Clarke was actually 24 when she first started playing the Mother Of Dragons, putting an 8 year age gap between the two.

John Cho As Sulu In Star Trek Beyond

  • On Screen Age: 21
  • Real Age: 37

Finding fame in Harold and Kumar, John Cho portrayed Sulu, originally played by George Takei, in both Star Trek Into Darkness and Star Trek Beyond, even though he was lightyears older than his character was supposed to be. With Sulu being 21, Cho could quite feasibly have been his father at 37, with a colossal 16-year age gap between the them.

Alan Rickman As Severus Snape In (All) Harry Potter's

  • On Screen Age: Late 30's
  • Real Age: 55 - 65

Coming into the acting game much later in life (he was 42 when he got his big break in Die Hard), Alan Rickman had to make up for lost time. Earning the iconic role of the ultimate bad boy turned good, Professor Severus Snape, in the Harry Potter franchise, Rickman who was by this point already in his mid 50's was playing Snape who was at least 20 years his senior.

Barbara Streisand As Yentl Mendel In Yentl

Yentl [Credit: MGM/UA Entertainment Company]
Yentl [Credit: MGM/UA Entertainment Company]
  • On Screen Age: 17
  • Real Age: 41

A musical about the plight of a Jewish Polish girl who decides to live as a man to receive an education in Talmudic Law after her father dies, Streisand co-wrote, co-produced, directed and starred in Yentl, with one minor catch — she cast herself in the titular role who was 24 years her junior. You gotta hand it to her though, that's some pretty hardcore self-belief sass.

Jason Earles As Jackson Stewart In Hannah Montana

  • On Screen Age: 16
  • Real Age: 29

Playing Miley Cyrus's older brother, Jackson, in Hannah Montana, it soon became apparent that Jason just has one of those creepy baby faces which never seems to age. When the Show began, he was 29 years old, and by the time Hannah Montana wrapped — he was 34, and still playing a teenager.

Charisma Carpenter As Cordelia Chase In Buffy The Vampire Slayer

  • On Screen Age: 16
  • Real Age: 27

Starting Sunnydale High at the grand old age of 27, Cordelia could technically have already graduated, got a bachelors, a masters and a PhD by the time she started high school — but I guess things work a little differently if your school is built on top of a hell mouth.

Emma Thompson As Elinor Dashwood In Sense And Sensibility

Sense And Sensibility [Credit: Columbia Pictures]
Sense And Sensibility [Credit: Columbia Pictures]
  • On Screen Age: 19
  • Real Age: 35

Taking a leaf out of Barbra Streisand's sass-book, Emma Thompson wrote the screenplay of and stared in 1995's adaptation of Jane Austin's Sense And Sensibility — and cast herself in one of the main roles as Elinor Dashwood, 16 years her junior. Thankfully, due to Emma's ageless presence and Elinor's character being wise beyond her years, this generational oversight is not too difficult to ignore.

Sean Patrick Thomas As Derek Reynolds In Save The Last Dance

  • On Screen Age: 19
  • Real Age: 30

Playing alongside a young Julia Styles, Save The Last Dance saw Sean Patrick Thomas as a 30-year-old man play a high schooler who inspired Sara (Styles) to follow her dreams of becoming a dancer. Inter-racial tensions and high school hormones aside, the age gap between the two is quite remarkably seamless on screen. I'm not sure if that's a compliment to Sean, or an insult to Julia.

Keiko Agena As Lane Kim In Gilmore Girls

  • On Screen Age: 15
  • Real Age: 27

Stars Hollow's biggest music buff, Lane manages to simultaneously be Rory's best friend, lead a double life of hoarding yet hiding all American paraphernalia from her strict parents, as well as hiding the fact that she is actually a 27-year-old playing a 15-year-old in the throws of puberty.

Tom Welling As Clark Kent In Smallville

Smallville [Credit: Warner Bros. Television]
Smallville [Credit: Warner Bros. Television]
  • On Screen Age: 14
  • Real Age: 24

When Tom began portraying a young Superman back in Season One of Smallville, his character was only supposed to be 14-years-old, when Tom himself was actually 24. Looking back, it was quite clear that Tom had well surpassed the puberty benchmark, even though those baby blue eyes and skin as soft as a baby's bottom had us all fooled for a while.


If you could, would you drink the elixir of eternal life?


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