Whether you're watching a North American film or a Japanese flick, chances are you're going to encounter high school students in the production. High school is a pivotal part of everyone's life, which is why this setting is often portrayed in both films and TV shows. The funny thing is, however, that most of the actors who portray high school students are usually old enough to be your parents.
While there are many young actors who would kill for a chance to play people their own age, this seldom happens. Instead, older actors are cast into teenage roles — even though it can sometimes look ridiculous.
When you think about it, it isn't very common for high schoolers to be excessively chiseled and good looking, as most of the time high schoolers are going through awkward and pimply stages. Most directors would rather cast adult actors into their productions, and we can guess at the reasons behind this decision.
Maybe it's because adult actors don't actually have to go to high school and can spend their days on set? Or maybe it's because older actors have already come into their looks, causing more viewers to be interested in upcoming movies and shows? Regardless of the reasons, this has become the norm. The age of the following actors may shock you, but you can be the judge of that.
15 Gabrielle Union (Bring It On) — 28 Years Old
There are some people who age backward, and Gabrielle Union is one of them. Today, the stunning actress is 45 years old, however, she still looks exactly like she did when she starred in 2000's Bring It On alongside Kirsten Dunst. If you've watched Bring It On before, then you know that the movie is solely based on two rival high school's cheerleading teams battling it out for the gold medal. Despite this movie casting actors who looked young enough to be in high school, Union was, in fact, a lot older than some of her co-stars. At the time, Union was 28 years old, despite looking like a fresh-faced teenager.
14 Charisma Carpenter (Buffy The Vampire Slayer) — 27 Years Old
Buffy The Vampire Slayer was one of the most watched TV sitcoms in the 90's. So much so, that many fans continuously re-watch the series despite it having ended over 15 years ago. While most of the actors in this show looked like typical teenagers, there were a few who were actually well into their adulthood. Take Charisma Carpenter, for example, the gorgeous actress who played the role of Cordelia Chase — Buffy's most hated high school peer. Despite Carpenter having a youthful face and look, she was actually cast when she was 27 years old. By the end of the show, Carpenter had reached her early 30's but managed to maintain a high school appearance.
13 Alan Ruck (Ferris Bueller's Day Off) — 30 Years Old
Alan Ruck is most known for his legendary role in 1986's Ferris Bueller's Day Off. The actor was cast as Cameron Frye, a rich and melodramatic teenager who had trouble seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. Ruck's performance was so believable, that many viewers felt a pang of hurt for the character's teenage angst. Despite Ruck looking like an average teenage student, the actor was actually 30 years old during the movie's production. Many people believe that Ruck entered the spotlight in 1986 and then gave up acting altogether, but this is false. As a matter of fact, Ruck had been an active actor for over 3 decades. Today, he is working on 3 films, which should all be hitting the box office in 2018.
12 Stacey Dash (Clueless) — 32 Years Old
Stacey Dash has had a long career as an actress, and throughout this time, she has managed to keep her young looks about her. This talented and pretty actress drifted from role to role before landing her first big gig in 1995's TV show Clueless. Despite playing a fashionable high school student living in Beverly Hills, Dash was actually a 32-year-old mother. Dash is a freak of nature in every sense of the word, as her appearance seems to be getting better with age. Today, Dash is 50 years old but doesn't look a day over 35. Dash has managed to consistently remain in the spotlight since 1982 and is currently working on a film called Honor Up, which should be coming out in 2018.
11 Jason Earles (Hannah Montana) — 30 Years Old
Family Channel is famous for bringing young talent to fame, however, there are some youthful looking actors who somehow made the cut — despite being twice the age of their co-stars. If you've ever watched an episode of Hannah Montana, you might be familiar with the show's cast members. Jason Earles, who played the role of Jackson Stewart, might have appeared to be an awkward and annoying teenager, but he was actually a lot older than his co-star Miley Cyrus. During the show's first season, Earles was actually 30 years old — which is twice the age of his character! Despite the age difference, Earles had no issues portraying a 15-year-old and somehow seems to be aging backward.
10 Bianca Lawson (Pretty Little Liars) — 31 Years Old
Depending on your personal tastes, you might think that the show Pretty Little Liars is the worst thing to happen since The Great Depression — and you wouldn't be wrong. However, the show was well-received by millions of fans, which is why it managed to air for 7 seasons. This show takes place in a high school setting and tells the tale of 5 young students and how they became associated with a missing person's case. While the 5 actresses who were cast into these roles were young-looking, many of them were a lot older than they appeared to be. The role of Maya St. Germain was played by Bianca Lawson, a beautiful and talented actress who has been showcased in many popular shows. Despite her tendency to play young roles, Lawson was actually 31 years old at the time of her casting.
9 Cory Monteith (Glee) — 27 Years Old
The late Cory Monteith was a sight for sore eyes, which is why he was often the subject of desire on the musical TV show Glee. Although he may have had a babyface on the show, his large physique often caused people to doubt he was anywhere near the age of a high schooler. Monteith played the role of Finn Hudson, a football player who wasn't exactly light on his feet but had the voice of an angel. As speculated, this actor was a lot older than the average high school student. Monteith was cast as Finn when he was 27 years old and played this role until he was 31 years old. Sadly, the talented actor suddenly passed away in 2013, but not before leaving behind his legacy.
8 Andrew Garfield (The Amazing Spider-Man) — 28 Years Old
Superhero movies usually consist of the same plot, one where a nerdy teenager discovers that they have hidden powers and decides to put them to good use. This is usually the case for Spider-Man movies, which is why the actors cast into this role tend to have a baby face. Oddly enough, the actors who have played Spider-Man have always been much older than their 17-year-old characters. Take Andrew Garfield as an example, when the actor was cast as Peter Parker in 2012's The Amazing Spider-Man, he was actually 28 years old. While his sprightly appearance may have looked the part, the actor had long since forgotten what it was like to be in high school. In 2014, Garfield played the role of Peter Parker once more in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, but at this point, he had already reached his 30s.
7 Trevor Donovan (90210) — 31 Years Old
Everyone has to start somewhere, and for Trevor Donovan, it was on the set of Days Of Our Lives in 2007. However, as the years went by, the actor managed to land the role of Teddy Montgomery on the hit TV series 90210. For 4 years, Donovan portrayed a high school student on this show, however, he was 31 years old at the time of his casting. Donovan was often regarded for his chiseled physique, which seemed very out of place in a high school setting. Nevertheless, audiences bought his boyish charm. Donovan has spent most of his career acting on sitcoms, but in the last few years, he has managed to land roles in TV movies and Hollywood films. Check out his upcoming movie The Neighbourhood, which is expected to come out in 2018.
6 Rachel McAdams (Mean Girls) — 27 Years Old
Say what you want about Lindsay Lohan, but there are few actresses who could have delivered her stellar performance in 2004's Mean Girls. Lohan, who was cast as the movie's protagonist Cady Heron, had originally auditioned for the Queen B Regina George's role, but Rachel McAdams was chosen for this role instead. While all of the actresses in this film looked like they belonged in a high school setting, many of them had surpassed their teenage years by decades. Despite playing a 16-year-old high school student, McAdams was 27 years old at the time. Funny enough, McAdams was only 7 years younger than her "cool mom" Mrs. George, who was played by the hilarious Amy Poehler.
5 Jon Heder (Napoleon Dynamite) — 26 Years Old
In 2004, a strange but hilarious movie hit the big screen, forever changing how nerds were viewed in real life. Jon Heder, who was cast as Napoleon in the movie Napoleon Dynamite, was dramatically transformed into an awkward high school student with a ginger fro and large glasses. While his gangly appearance might have fooled the world into thinking that he was, in fact, a teenage boy, the actor was well into his twenties at the time. Due to the movie's strange plot and awkward actors, Heder was originally only offered $1000 dollars for his leading role. However, when the movie became an international success, the actor's contract was renegotiated and he received a well-deserved bonus. At 26 years old, Heder managed to score his first major role in a big-time movie, which eventually led him to fame.
4 Leonardo DiCaprio (Catch Me If You Can) — 28 Years Old
Leonardo DiCaprio was practically born into the spotlight, which is why he is considered to be one of the most successful actors of all time. DiCaprio was often praised for his boyish looks, which is what allowed him to play a variety of younger roles. Today, however, the actor is 43 years old and has traded in his boyish charm for a manly appearance. In 2002, DiCaprio was cast as Frank Abagnale in the hit movie Catch Me If You Can, where he played a 17-year-old high school student. However, DiCaprio was nowhere near his character's age. As a matter of fact, DiCaprio was 28 years old at the time, which is the age his character lied about being to his onscreen lover Brenda.
3 Keiko Agena (Gilmore Girls) — 30 Years Old
Despite being an active actress since 1993, there are not many people who know the greatness that is Keiko Agena. This Hawaiian actress is most commonly known for her role as Lane Kim in the TV show Gilmore Girls, but has appeared in many big productions. Gilmore Girls may or may not be your cup of tea, but there is one fact that we can all appreciate; Agena was actually 30 years old when she played her 15-year-old character. By the end of the series, Agena was 37 years old, although she did not look like it whatsoever. This actress' young face and girlish voice have allowed her to portray many young characters. As the years go by, however, Agena has noticeably matured, managing to land the role of teacher Pam Bradley in the Netflix series 13 Reasons Why.
2 Sean Patrick Thomas (Save The Last Dance) — 30 Years Old
Sean Patrick Thomas is an actor who brings all sorts of talent to the table. As many people know, Thomas co-starred alongside Julia Stiles in 2001's Save The Last Dance, where he showed off his impressive dance moves. Thomas was made to portray a high school student struggling to keep his morals afloat while living in a crime-infested neighborhood. However, Thomas was actually 30 years old during the making of this film. On a side note, Stiles, who was the lead role in this film was only 20 years old. Over the last few decades, Thomas has made quite the name for himself as an actor. Luckily, his appearance has seldom changed, allowing him to take on both younger and older roles.
1 Stockard Channing (Grease) — 34 Years Old
If there is one move that will go down in history, it's 1978's Grease. This musical is a classic, which is why many people will never be able to forget the crew of actors who were cast into these timeless roles. Despite playing high school students, many of the actors in this flick were actually decades older than the average teenager. Stockard Channing, who played the role of Rizzo — the feisty Pink Lady leader — was actually 34 years old when she started filming for the film. This may come as a surprise to some of you, but most people would agree that Channing was one of the actresses who looked the most out of place in Rydell High School. Regardless of her age, Channing delivered a stellar performance and her take on Rizzo will most likely never be beaten.