ByTommy DePaoli, writer at
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Tommy DePaoli

As popular movies and TV shows go, it's no surprise to see older actors and actresses playing much younger characters. Especially in stories set in high, it makes sense for filmmakers to include adults who can work longer hours even if they might stand out with some five o' clock shadow. As a result, audiences have become used to twentysomethings playing teenagers, but what about an age gap in the opposite direction?

More rarely, talented actors portray characters that appear much older than their real ages. With the help of make-up and good old-fashioned performing, here's a collection of celebrities who put vanity aside and refused to act their own age!

Christopher Lloyd - Back to the Future

Actual age when filming: 46 years old

While Dr. Emmett Brown's age is probably somewhere between 65 and 71 years old during the original timeline of Back to the Future, Christopher Lloyd was only 46 years old when he first brought the iconic character to life! The 20-year age gap was easily overlooked because Lloyd's kooky behavior and somewhat ageless persona made him the only pick for the part.

Sally Field - Forrest Gump

Actual age when filming: 47 years old

Because playing Forrest's mother required running the gamut of ages, Sally Field went from a seductive single mom to a wizened granny in the space of the film. What's most shocking about this is the very small 10-year age difference between Field and Tom Hanks, who are supposed to be mother and son. In fact, Field played Hanks' unrequited love interest only a year earlier in Punchline.

Estelle Getty - Golden Girls

Actual age when filming: 62-69 years old

Though her character Sofia Petrillo was the mother of Dorothy Zbornak (Bea Arthur), Estelle Getty was actually even younger than her onscreen daughter. In reality, she was the second youngest in the cast of older dames, but she captured Sofia's rambunctious spirit so well that Golden Girls made her look at least 20 years older for every single episode. All those days in the make-up chair paid off, though, since Getty ended up winning an Emmy for the role.

Jennifer Lawrence - Silver Linings Playbook

Actual age when filming: 22 years old

David O. Russell may have found his muse in Jennifer Lawrence with Silver Linings Playbook, but the character Tiffany Maxwell was intended for an older actress when first conceived. The book character is actually in her mid-thirties, which makes more sense for a widow (even a young one). Initially Anne Hathaway had the part to play alongside 38-year-old Bradley Cooper, but eventually JLaw won out and took home Oscar gold for the age switch-up.

Guy Pearce - Prometheus

Actual age when filming: 45 years old

When the Prometheus script was still in development, Guy Pearce was cast in the role of 99-year-old Peter Weyland to allow him to play the character as both his young and old self. Unfortunately, the flashback scene with a young Weyland was cut from the script and never filmed, so Pearce ended up just playing the role of a (really) elderly man.

Melissa Leo - The Fighter

Actual age when filming: 49 years old

Playing the real-life boxing matriarch Alice Eklund-Ward, Melissa Leo was actually at least 10 years younger than the outspoken character. Even more interesting, she was only 10 years older than her onscreen son Mark Wahlberg, who was also supposed to be the youngest.

Winona Ryder - Star Trek

Paramount Pictures
Paramount Pictures

Actual age when filming: 36 years old

Winona Ryder's cameo as Spock's dearly departed mother in Star Trek may have helped bring her back into the spotlight, but I couldn't help be jarred seeing her act alongside supposed son Zachary Quinto. In reality, their age difference is only five years! That means that Winona was either playing much older, or Vulcans have some mating powers that defy rationality.

Angelina Jolie - Alexander

Actual age when filming: 29 years old

Angelina Jolie portrayed Queen Olympias, the mother of Alexander, for the duration of the film, even when the small child becomes a might conqueror in the shape of Colin Farrell. Though Olympias did have Alexander at 19 years old according to historians, she still would have aged into middle age by the time Alexander started his reign and conquest. Instead, the movie shows her virtually unchanged, even though Colin Farrell is only one year younger than her in real-life.


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