Age ain’t nothing but a number: on-screen kids as old as their parents

Long ago, men would perform as female characters in the theater because women were prohibited from entering the stage. This began during ancient Greek times and continued through the English Renaissance era. The most prevalent examples of cross-gender acting are from Shakespeare’s plays – Juliet, Lady Macbeth and Cleopatra were all female characters who were actually first performed by men.

While this form of acting is less prevalent now, especially on screen, it is still an important part of history. It shows that a great actor can play any character. Some of the best actors in Hollywood today tend to prove this with the diversity of the characters they portray. While actors no longer frequently play characters with opposite genders as their own (aside from a few animated sitcoms), they do often portray people much younger or older than they are in real life.

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Sometimes actors are asked to portray a parent of another actor. This can be tough because they will be required to form some sort of connection or bond that is different than any other, that of a parent to their child. Another difficult aspect to playing a parent on screen is if the actor opposite them is close to the same age as they are.

Many times, if an actor is too young to play the parent of their on-screen child, they will have to go through an extensive transformation with facial prosthetics and makeup before they are ready to be filmed. This could be because the movie or show takes place over a long period of time or there are flashbacks/flash-forwards to a different time, requiring the actor to look different than they do at present.


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Throughout time, Hollywood is known to cast actors who are far older than the character they are actually playing, either because they look younger or because they were just the perfect fit for the role. Because of that, it is usually hard to find another actor who is old enough to play their parent, which can lead to extremely close age gaps between the two or even the “child” being older than the “parent.”

If the discrepancy looks minor, people might not even notice and everyone just moves on with their lives. On the contrary, when a 25-year-old actor is playing a 16-year-old high school student and the person who’s supposed to be their parent is really in their early thirties, things can become a bit skeptical and confusing.

Whether they look older or younger than they actually are, film and television have been tricking us for decades into thinking our favorite parent-child duos are of normal ages. In actuality, there are some actors who are even the same age their on-screen mother or father.

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