ByKarly Rayner, writer at
Movie Pilot's celebrity savant
Karly Rayner

It's no secret that a Hollywood career has a shelf-life when it comes to scooping those leading roles, especially for women, but the age that stars are shunted into parental roles means that their supposed children are often biologically impossible.

The magic of cinema (or makeup) means that we can often suspend our disbelief when it comes to these ludicrous age gaps, but when you look at the numbers written down, it doesn't bode well for Hollywood's older actors.

Of course, not all movies are guilty of casting inappropriately young people as mothers and fathers (just look at 54-year-old Julianne Moore's Oscar win playing a mother in Still Alice), but when Meryl Streep, who aged 66 is a much more plausible age for the mother of a lot of the stars below, is cast as an old crone in Into the Woods, you have to wonder about how deep the ageism in Hollywood runs.

10. Back to the Future

Actors: Michael J. Fox and Crispin Glover

Ages when movie was released:

  • Michael J. Fox - 24 years old
  • Crispin Glover - 21 years old

Age gap: Crispin Glover was three years younger than his on screen son, Michael J. Fox.

Relationship: Father and son

Back to the Future was in a bit of a quandary when it came to casting appropriate actors. The stars had to look young enough to pass as high school students, but also old enough to play Michael J. Fox's parents. This resulted is Crispin Glover, who was 21 years old at the time, playing Fox's father. This is obviously one of the most logical castings on the list, and the makeup artists seemed to have somehow predicted the future in his aged up look!

9. Alexander

Actors: Angelina Jolie and Colin Farrell

Ages when movie was released:

  • Angelina Jolie - 29 years old
  • Colin Farrell - 28 years old

Age gap: One year

Relationship: Mother and son

Angelina Jolie was only one year older than her onscreen son, Colin Farrell, in Alexander, and there was no attempt to make this absurd age difference look anymore convincing. Maybe this was one of the numerous ridiculous oversights that led to the movie being 'awarded' multiple golden raspberry nominations!

8. The Graduate

Actors: Anne Bancroft and Katharine Ross

Ages when movie was released:

  • Anne Bancroft - 36 years old
  • Katharine Ross - 27 years old

Age gap: Nine years

Relationship: Mother and daughter

Although they were obviously cast for their striking resemblance, the iconic Mrs. Robinson was only nine years older than her more demure onscreen daughter. Perhaps what's more surprising is that Dustin Hoffman, who plays a 21-year-old graduate in the movie, was actually 30 at the time and only six years younger than his supposedly middle-aged seductress.

7. Brokeback Mountain

Actors: Heath Ledger and Kate Mara

Ages when movie was released:

  • Heath Ledger - 26 years old
  • Kate Mara - 22 years old

Age gap: Four years

Relationship: Father and daughter

Heather Ledger was only four years older than his onscreen daughter, and despite his weathered features in the movie, it really shows. Luckily, their stellar acting talent carried this age gap well and their emotive final scene still managed to be a sucker punch to the delicate feels.

6. Mean Girls

Actors: Amy Poehler and Rachel McAdams

Ages when movie was released:

  • Amy Poehler - 32 years old
  • Rachel McAdams - 25 years old

Age gap: Seven years

Relationship: Mother and daughter

One of the most iconic comedy movie moms wasn't really anywhere near old enough for the role. Amy Poehler was only 32 when she stepped into her cool mom velour tracksuit in Mean Girls, but the references to her plastic surgery addiction made her totally believable as the typical Valley-mom.

5. Forrest Gump

Actors: Sally Field and Tom Hanks

Ages when movie was released:

  • Sally Field - 47 years old
  • Tom Hanks - 37 years old

Age gap: 10 years

Relationship: Mother and son

Although they did a pretty convincing makeup job on Sally Field to transform her into the older incarnation of Tom Hanks' on screen mother, she was really only ten years older than him. Perhaps this could have been a good opportunity to cast two actresses, because Field playing the role of an elderly lady on her deathbed is just as ridiculous as an adult Tom Hanks trying to play a child!

4. Boyz n the Hood

Actors: Cuba Gooding Jr. and Laurence Fishburne

Ages when movie was released:

  • Cuba Gooding Jr. - 23 years old
  • Laurence Fishburne - 29 years old

Age gap: Six years

Relationship: Father (Fishburne) and son (Gooding Jr.)

The fact that Cuba Gooding Jr. and Laurence Fishburne are only six years apart in the critically acclaimed Boyz n the Hood is proof that Fishburne's wealth of prior acting experience so early in his career really paid off.

3. Star Trek

Actors: Winona Ryder and Zachary Quinto

Ages when movie was released:

  • Winona Ryder - 37 years old
  • Zachary Quinto - 31 years old

Age gap: Six years

Relationship: Mother and son

Why J.J. Abrams hired Winona Ryder, only to make her almost unrecognizable with age makeup is anyone's guess, but there were plenty of older actresses out there who would have snapped up this lucrative role and have been able to pull it off wearing their own face!

2. The Passion of the Christ

Actors: Jim Caviezel and Maia Morgenstern

Ages when movie was released:

  • Jim Caviezel - 35 years old
  • Maia Morgenstern - 41 years old

Age gap: Six years

Relationship: Mother and son

Although Mary would have undoubtedly been very young when she was pregnant with Jesus, six years old is definitely pushing the boundaries way too far. This little known Romanian actress might have killed the role in Passion of the Christ, but the implication that to be pure and good one also has to be ageless and fresh faced didn't go down well with a lot of critics.

1. Riding in Cars with Boys

Actors: Drew Barrymore and Adam Garcia

Ages when movie was released:

  • Drew Barrymore - 35 years old
  • Adam Garcia - 37 years old

Age gap: Barrymore is two years younger than her on screen son, Adam Garcia

Relationship: Mother and son

I think the screen shot from the movie above speaks for itself! Drew Barrymore's character is meant to be a teen mother, but casting a son who is older than her is just plain ridiculous. Red lipstick might be aging, but this was never going to be convincing!

(Source: Shortlist, Scribol)


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