They Don’t Look a Day Over 17: Grown Ups Who Played Teenagers on TV

Hollywood is filled with the most beautiful people in the world. Whether it’s the makeup or glamour, some people are just born to be stars. It’s no surprise that many Hollywood directors would prefer not to work with younger actors. First of all, there are child labor laws, and second, it’s way harder to get teenagers to cooperate. I mean, if I was a director I would probably choose to work with more mature and experienced actors too.

Olivia Newton-John, Leonardo Decaprio, Rachel McAdams
Source: Moviestore Collection, Shutterstock / Snap Stills, Shutterstock / Paramount, Shutterstock

This leads to many adults being cast as teenagers. Most of the time, the young-looking actors pull it off incredibly; however, sometimes they are obviously too old to be in high school. It can get borderline creepy at times watching grown men roaming through the halls playing high school students. Here are some adult actors who play high school teens. Some of these are well known, but others will shock you!

Olivia Newton-John- Grease

Olivia Newton-John is an Australian singer, dancer, and actress. She will always be best remembered for portraying Sandy in the hit music, movie Grease, alongside John Travolta. Sandy is a beautiful high school who fell For Danny Zuko (John Travolta). Olivia played the part so well that you probably never would have guessed that she has been out of high school for almost a decade when she took on the role. Olivia was 29 years old when she played 18-year-old Sandy.

A shot of Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta sitting in a diner drinking shakes with their friends surrounding them.
Source: MoviestillDB.com/Copyright: Paramount Pictures 

In addition to Sandy looking young a youthful on-screen, many of the other characters were also way too old to be in high school. Travolta was 24, and Jeff Conaway was 27. Donnelly had to dye her roots with black crayons every day because her gray roots were growing in. They all looked great, but nobody pulled off a teenager better than Olivia.

Rachel McAdams- Mean Girls

Rachel McAdams is well known for starring in The Notebook with Ryan Gosling. However, her most iconic role to date is Regina George in the chick flick, Mean Girl. Lindsay Lohan played the nice new girl Katy, while McAdams portrayed the legendary mean girl. Although she fit the stereotype of a classic high school popular girl, McAdams was actually 27 when she played the part.

Scene with Rachel McAdams, Jonathan Bennett, and Amanda Seyfried walking away smiling as Linsay Lohan’s feet stick out of the garbage bin in a high school setting.
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Did you know that before playing Regina George McAdams played a similar character? She landed the part of Jessica, in the 2002 movie, Hot Chick. Her character was a popular teenager who one day wakes up in the body of a man in his 30s! Yikes! I guess it’s not exactly the same.

Gabrielle Union- Bring It On

Gabrielle is an actress and musician who has been actively involved in the entertainment industry for a while. Throughout the 90s, she appeared on TV shows, and in 1999 she played a supporting character in the hit movie, 10 Thing I Hate About You. However, it wasn’t until the year 2000 when Union finally landed her breakout role.

Kirsten Dunst and Gabrielle Union in character before going out to cheer.
Source: MoviestillDB.com/Copyright: Beacon Pictures

The actress took on the role of Isis, the head cheerleader of the rival high school. Although she played a teenager, Union was 27 years old when she played the part! Needless to say, she ages beautifully. I mean, have you seen what she looks like today? Now she is 47 and still looking youthful as ever! If I only I can age that gracefully.

Ross Butler- 13 Reason Why

Ross Butler didn’t grow up on the screen. He only began acting in 2012, when he was already an adult. Still, that hasn’t stopped him from getting cast a high school student. He acted in K.C. Undercover, Teen Beach 2 and Perfect High. In 2016, he portrayed Nathan Pierce, in three episodes of Teen Wolf, before landing the part of Reggie Mantie, a high school student on Riverdale.

Ross Butler is standing in front of his football locker with his hand inside.
Source: MoviestillDB.com/ Copyright: July Moon Productions

After the first season, Butler decided to leave the show to star in the Netflix hit series, 13 Reasons Why. Ross Butler portrayed Zack Demsey wonderfully, despite being 27 when he first landed the role. We can’t wait to see him continue playing the character in season 4 of the show.

Gabrielle Carteris- Beverly Hills, 90210

Andrea Carteris is a well-known actress who gained recognition when she played Andrea Zuckerman in the hit 90s drama series, Beverly Hills 90210. Her character was a smart girl who was the editor of the high school newspaper. She looked like a young teenager and fooled audiences effortlessly. In reality, the actress was 29 at the time, making her the oldest cast member who portrayed a teenager.

Gabrielle Carteris, pictured right, sitting with Christine Elise, Tori Spelling, and Jennie Garth on the school’s lawn in the show.
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After the show ended, Carteris left her high school persona and began taking roles playing an adult. She appeared in a number of shows, including Criminal Minds, Make It or Break It, and N.C.I.S. More recently, you can find her on the BH90210. Instead of coming back as her character Andrea, the show focuses on the personal lives of the actors.

Matt Damon

Matt Damon is a talented and attractive actor who can portray many different types of roles. Since he started to act in the late eighty’s he was probably a little too old to play a teenager in more recently. However, in 2013, Matt Damon impressed audiences when he played 17-year-old Scott Thorson in the film, Behind The Candelabra. He was 43 at the time! The movie ultimately won two Golden Globes.

A photo of Matt Damon and Michael Douglas in character standing in front of an older silver car.
Source: MoviestillDB.com/Copyright: Copyright: HBO Films

Although Damon is a good looking actor, it’s still remarkable that he was able to pull off a teenager in his 40s! Damon is a successful actor who obviously doesn’t have a problem landing adult roles. At 49 years old, he probably won’t be playing a teenager anytime soon, but who knows? He can clearly pull it off really well.

Tammin Sursok- Pretty Little Liars

Pretty Little Liars was a suspenseful teen-drama that ran for 7 seasons! The series was so popular that it even got two spin-off shows. It’s no secret that many of the main cast members were in their twenties while playing high school students, but Tammin Sursok was 31 when she was cast.

Tammin Sursok with dark sunglasses on, and Shay Mitchell is standing in the high school hallway for the show.
Source: ABC Family 

Tammin portrayed the blind girl, Jenna Marshal. Her youthful look made her the perfect actress to play a creepy high school girl. Since she wasn’t really a teenager, Sursok was married and pregnant while filming the show. The directors had to make sure to cut her pregnant belly out of some of the shots. Even after the baby was born, she jumped right back into her high school character. If only I had that body after giving birth.

Jason Earles- Hannah Montana

We all watched Miley Cyrus grow up before our eyes when she landed the starring role on Disney Channels hit show, Hannah Montana. She was about 13 when filming started and played her own age throughout the show’s run. Her funny yet gross big brother Jackson was 15, and Jason Earls did a hilarious job playing the character.

Miley Cyrus and Emily Osment are sitting at the kitchen table while Jason Earles plays on his phone.
Source: MoviestillDB.com/Copyright: Copyright: Disney

I was shocked to find out that Earles was 30 years old when the show started. That’s right, that goofy teenager was long out of high school in real life. I still don’t see it. I mean, how can you play a high schooler that well when you are in your 30s. I guess it just shows how talented the actor is.

Chad Michael Murray- One Tree Hill

Chad Michael Murry appeared in multiple TV shows such as Gilmore Girls and Dawson’s Creek in the early 2000s. However, it wasn’t until 2003 when he landed his breakout role in the hit teen drama, One Tree Hill. He starred as Lucas Scott, a sweet teenager who had an estranged relationship with his dad.

Hilarie Burton and Chad Michael Murray talking in the kitchen in a scene from One Tree Hill.
Source: CW

He was 23 years old when he played 17-year-old Lucas. Even though 23 doesn’t seem that old, Lucas played a high schooler until he was 27! After season 4, the producers decided to fast forward four years so that the cast can play characters closer to their own age. We never cared about the actor’s age; we just loved watching him on TV. The show wouldn’t have been so successful if it wasn’t for Chad Michael Murray.

Tom Welling- Smallville

Tom Welling has been very successful around Hollywood. He s an actor, director, and producer who will always be remembered as Clark Kent in the WB series, Smallville. When he was the first cast as 14 years old, Welling was 24. What’s strange, however, is that the actor definitely doesn’t look 14.

Kristin Kreuk and Tom Welling are standing on his front porch in Smallville.
Source: MoviestillDB.com/Copyright: Copyright: The CW Television Network 

Don’t get me wrong; he looks great. But you can tell he is 24. Nobody really looks that perfect in high school. As the character aged, so did the actor, so he never really looked like a teenager. I guess we can blame his superior look on his superpowers. Not ever one looks like they are a decade younger, but some directors prefer to work with adult actors. Welling still played the part beautifully and showed off his talent as an actor.

Shirley Henderson- Harry Potter

JK Rowling was very involved in Casting for the Harry Potter movie series. She insisted that the actors should all be around the age of the characters. Most of the actors were students in real life except for one. Shirley Henderson wasn’t even close to a high schooler when she showed up in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets in 2002.

Shirley Henderson is portraying Moaning Myrtle’s ghost in the Hogwarts bathroom in the Chamber of Secrets.
Source: Warner Bros. 

Not only was she not a teenager, but the actress was in her late thirties when she portrayed Moaning Myrtle, a ghost that scares students in the girl’s bathroom. She was 40 years old when she reprised her role in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Shockingly, she did an incredible job playing a character that was over 2 decades younger than her.

Stacy Dash- Clueless

To this day, Clueless is an iconic chick flick that was released in 1995. The movie is a coming of age story focused on Cher, played by Alicia Silverstone (who was 19 at the time of filming). Cher’s best friend is Dionne, played by Stacey Dash. She brilliantly plays a 17-year-old teenager when, in reality, she was 28 at the time.

Alicia Silverstone and Wallace Shawn are walking with Stacey Dash through the high school lawn in Clueless.
Source: MoviestillDB.com/Copyright: Paramount Pictures

Despite being over a decade older than her character, no one suspected a thing. Clueless definitely put the girl on the map, and she continued to have a steady acting career since. Today the actress is focusing on being a mother to her two children and three stepchildren. Needless to say, shes not acting like a teenager anymore.

Matt Lanter- Star Crossed

Matt Lanter is an attractive actor who is recognized for playing Liam Court in the teen drama 90210 (the Beverly 90210 spin-off show). He was 26 years old when he landed the role of Liam, and it was clear he wasn’t a teenager. He looked way too… mature. However, in 2014, he landed another part as a teenager.

Photograph of Matt Lanter acting in Star-Crossed.
Source: CBS 

When he was 31 years old, Lanter was cast as 16-year-old Roman in the TV show Star Crossed. I think the actor put his teenage years behind him. He has taken voice roles in many video games and is now taking more adult roles. In 2020, you can catch him as George Hutchene in Jupiter’s Legacy.

Leonardo DiCaprio- Catch Me If You Can

It’s no secret that Leonardo DiCaprio has a very successful career as a movie star. He gained international recognition when he portrayed Jack in the 1997 romance, Titanic. He had many other notable movie roles, such as Jim Carroll in The Basketball Diaries and Jordan Belfort in The Wolf of Wall Street.

A shot of Leonardo DiCaprio dressed as a pilot walking with stewardesses on his arm.
Source: MoviestillDB.com/Copyright: Dreamworks Pictures

He took on many different types of characters throughout his career, and one of the most infamous is Frank Abagnale in Catch Me If You Can. The movie surrounds a young con-artist who successfully poses as a doctor, lawyer, and pilot. He is also particularly good at check fraud. DiCaprio portrayed the 19-year-old brilliantly despite being 28 years old while he was filming the movie.

Tobey Maguire- Spider-Man

Tobey Maguire is a popular actor who has appeared on our screens since the early 2000s. His most notable role to date is when he played Peter Parker in the Spider-Man trilogy. His character was a nerdy high school student who got bit by a magical spider and inherited super-Spidey Powers.

Tobey Maguire in character looking shocked with the spider web coming out of his wrist.
Source: Columbia Pictures/Marvel Enterprises 

The Movie was a huge success and the actor reprised his role in two sequels. What makes Maguire’s talent even more impressive is that he was 27 years old when he played the teenager. Although he has been in the acting business since the 90s, Spider-Man is definitely the movie that put him on the map. He landed remarkable roles throughout the years. Most famously, when he played Nick Carraway, in the remake of The Great Gatsby.

Robert Pattinson- Twilight

Robert Pattinson is an English actor known for his good looks and his role in Twilight. Pattinson made every teenage girl’s heart melt when he portrayed Edward Cullen, a high school vampire. You may also recognize him from 2005 when he played Cedric Diggory in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Unfortunately, his character was killed off, so he didn’t appear in any of the sequels.

Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart in character in the Twilight movie.
Source: MoviestillDB.com/Copyright: Summit Entertainment 

He may have been in his early 20’s when he appeared in Harry Potter, but he was a bit older when he was cast as Edward Cullen. Pattinson was 26 when he took on the role of the sexiest vampire on screen. He continued to reprise his role for another 4 years. Pattinson seemed to look the same age throughout the rest of the movies, which is important because vampires don’t age.

Debby Ryan- Insatiable

Insatiable is a Netflix show which got a lot of backlashes as soon as the trailer dropped. It was completely bashed before anyone has even seen it. Once it was released, the show got mixed reviews. Some people thought it was funny and clever, while others thought it had a horrible plot and shaming fat woman.

Debby Ryan and Caroline Pluta hooked up to zipline gear while in the middle of a conversation.
Source: CBS 

Insatiable focuses on a high school student who has struggled with weight her whole life. When she loses a bunch of weight, she becomes a beauty queen… and a sociopath. We all saw Debby Ryan play a high school student on The Suite Life On Deck, but 10 years later and she’s still got it. No matter what you think of the show, 25-year-old Ryan did a great job playing Patty Bladale.

Cole Sprouse- Riverdale

We all remember Cole Sprouse when he was a Disney Channel star alongside his twin brother Dylan Spouse. During their time on the show, they were teenagers who were playing their own ages on screen. Once they turned 18, however, they went to college and managed to stay out of the spotlight.

Cole Sprouse, Lili Reinhart, Camila Mendes, K.J. Apa, Rob Raco, and Casey Cott are holding a birthday cake with lit candles in a scene from Riverdale.
Source: MoviestillDB.com/Copyright: Warner Bros. Television

Nobody had heard from the twins for a while when suddenly, in 2017, Cole Sprouse appeared on the hit series, Riverdale. He played Jughead, one of the main characters. Like his co-star Debby Ryan, Sprouse can still portray a high-school student incredibly years later. He was 24 when he was cast as Jughead. At 27 years old, Cole is still playing the beloved character. Hopefully, we will see his brother back on the screen too!

Bianca Lawson- Pretty Little Liars

You may recognize Bianca since she has been on our screens for about two decades. What’s incredible is that she keeps playing teenagers. She is now 36 years old has starred in The Secret Life of the American Teenager, Teen Wolf, Vampire Diaries, and, most recently, Pretty Little Liars. She portrayed Maya St. Germain on the popular teen drama.

Shay Mitchell is talking to Bianca Lawson outside of the café in Pretty Little Liars.
Source: ABC Family 

Maya played Emily (Shay Mitchel)’s love interest in the first season of the show. She looks as young and vibrant as ever, so it’s not surprising that she can get away as a teenager. The stunning actress continues to appear in TV shows and has been playing older characters. Lucky for her, she can easily jump right into a teen role, if needed.

Benjamin McKenzie- The O.C.

Benjamin McKenzie has been acting since the early 2000s. His breakout role that we all remember him for is Ryan Atwood on the hit teen-series The O.C. If you remember that show, his character Ryan was a troubled 16-year-old boy. McKenzie pulled off the part perfectly and continued to play Ryan until 2007.

Mischa Barton and Ben McKenzie laughing together while sitting next to the pool at night.
Source: Warner Bros. 

McKenzie had us all fooled, considering he was 25 years old when he landed the role. He continued to act steadily throughout the years but not as a teenager. Most recently, you can catch him on Gotham, where he plays James Gordon. Because he is 41 years old now, the actor probably won’t be able to get by as a high school student the way he used to.

Keiko Agena- Gilmore Girls

Keiko Agena was acting for years before she got her infamous role-playing Lane Kim on Gilmore Girls. Lane was Rory (Alexis Bledel)’s best friend. Although she played a 16-year-old high school girl, people were shocked when they found out her real age.

Keiko Agena is playing the drums in an episode of Gilmore Girls.
Source: Dorothy Parker Drank Here Productions 

Keiko was 27 years old when she was on the show. Since she looked the part, Keiko continued to portray a teenager when she guest-starred on different shows. Today, she plays a much different kind of character. She put her high school persona aside and now plays Dr. Edrisa Tanaka in the amazing new TV show, The Prodigal Son. She is the main character, and if you don’t watch it, I highly recommend you do.

Ian Somerhalder- The Vampire Diaries

Ian Somerhalder is a good looking actor who has been involved in the industry since the late 90s. The now 40-year-old actor has been in several movies and TV shows, but his most notable role was when he was cast as Damon Salvatore in the hit drama series, The Vampire Diaries.

Matthew Davis and Ian Somerhalder (right) staring intensely
Source: MoviestillDB.com/Copyright: Alloy Entertainment

When the show premiered, Somerhalder was 32 years old, playing 17-year-old Damon. He continued to portray the character until the show came to an end in 2017. If you can play a teenager when you are in your 30’s, you got a good thing going for you. Ironically, Somerhalder is currently married to Nikki Reed from the Twilight series, and the two make an adorable couple!

Jennifer Grey- Dirty Dancing

Jennifer Grey was a force to be reckoned with since she began acting in the mid-80s. The girl had some real talent. In 1986, she landed the role of Jeanie Bueller in the hit movie, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Her character was Ferris’s moody teenage sister. Amazingly, Grey was 26 when she played the character.

Jennifer Grey is practicing dancing on a small bridge on top of a river.
Source: MoviestillDB.com/Copyright: Vestron Pictures

One year later, Grey got her breakout role when she starred in Dirty Dancing. The movie was a huge hit and became classic. Grey definitely made the movie what it is today despite being a decade older than her 17-year-old character Frances “Baby” Houseman. Today the actress continuously appears on TV shows, but she is playing older characters these days. At age 59, this Hollywood star is no longer taking teenage roles.

Cory Monteith- Glee

Cory Monteith will always be remembered as Finn Hudson, the high-school jock in the hit musical show, Glee. The casting director explained how the actor was able to capture Finn’s “naïve, but not stupid sweetness” even though he was over 10 years older.

Lea Michele and Cory Monteith are sitting and eating pizza in a shot from Glee.
Source: MoviestillDB.com/Copyright: 20th Century Fox

Although he was 28 when they show started, the producers allowed the students to grow up and eventually graduate high school. This way, the actors can play characters closer to their age. One of the show’s creators said that “There is nothing more depressing than a high schooler with a bald spot.” We couldn’t agree more. Unfortunately, this talented actor was taken away from us far too soon. In 2013, the actor was found dead at age 31, leaving a hole in the hearts of fans all around the world.

Jon Heder- Napoleon Dynamite

Jonathan Joseph Heder got his big break in 2004 when he starred in the popular comedy, Napoleon Dynamite. His infamous character was a 17-year-old high school student. Heder did an outstanding job playing the hilarious character, despite being 28 at the time.

Jon Heder with Efren Ramirez standing in front of colorful lockers in a high school setting.
Source: Fox Searchlight Pictures 

After making his mark on Hollywood, Jon has continued to act in multiple movies and TV shows. He acted in some other hit comedies such as Benchwarmers and Mama’s Boy, but he will always be remembered as Napoleon Dynamite on all of our hearts. Did you know Heder was only paid $1000 for his part in the movie? Luckily, after the movie became a huge success, there were negotiations made, and he received some of the profits.

Barbra Streisand- Yentl

Yentl is a 1983 film starring Barbra Streisand. She portrays a 17-year-old young Jewish girl. The kicker? Streisand was 41 at the time. In the movie, Yentl wanted to get a degree, so she pretends she is a boy to get into college. The movie was a huge success, and the actress did a brilliant job playing a character who is over 20 years younger than her.

Mandy Patinkin is whispering to Barbra Streisand in the movie Yentl.
Source: United Artists

The movie went on to be nominated for 5 Oscars. Streisand has been actively working in the entertainment industry since the 60s as both an actress and musician. She shocked audiences when she played Yentl; however, at 77 years old, I think she’s done taking on high school roles.

Sissy Spacek- Carrie

Steven King is a genius horror novel writer whose books are often turned into movies. He is the brains behind some of the scariest stories, including Pet Cemetery, It, and The Shining. In 1976, his book Carrie was being made into a movie. Sissy Spacek was the actress who ultimately won the role of high school student Carrie White.

Sissy Spacek excited that her name was announced for prom queen.
Source: YouTube 

However, the actress was 26 when she landed the role of the teenager. Despite being much older than her character, Spacek was nominated for Best actress. After her big break, the actress was known around Hollywood, landing several roles. She is now 69 years old and has been playing older characters. It doesn’t look like she’s going to play a teenager in any upcoming movies.

Taylor Kitch- Friday Night Lights

Taylor Kitch is an actor and model who came to us from Canada. He is famous for playing Tim Riggins in the NBC hit TV show, Friday Night Lights. The actor portrayed a 14-year-old character, incredibly when he was 27 years old. If we are honest, he definitely doesn’t look 14. However, his youthful look did make him look like a teenager.

Taylor Kitch in his uniform in Friday Night Lights.
Source: YouTube 

Although he was way past the high school when he landed the role, playing Tim Riggins really put Taylor Kitch on the map. After showing off his acting talent in Friday Night Lights, the actor earned many other roles, including Remy LeBeau/Gambit, in the X-Men Origins: Wolverine. He most recently played the part of David Koresh on the mini-series Waco.

Emily Kinney- The Walking Dead

Emily Kinney made a name for herself after portraying 15-year-old Beth Greene on The Walking Dead. She joined the cast in season 2 and stayed through season 5. She does a great job capturing the character that it’s shocking to find out how old the actress is in real life.

Scott Wilson, Emily Kinney, and Chandler Riggs are standing outside of an abandoned building in The Walking Dead.
Source: MoviestillDB.com/Copyright: AMC 

Kinney was 29 years old when she played Beth Greene. That means she is almost double her character’s age! In 2015 the actress was nominated for Best supporting actress on the show. The actress is now 34 years old and still looking amazing. If she wanted to, she could easily get cast as a teenager again. Meanwhile, she has appeared on multiple TV shows. Her most recent reoccurring role is Staci Hardwick on Messiah.

Alan Ruck- Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is an iconic teen 80s movie. The movie does a brilliant job capturing teen recklessness, and the characters are still relatable to high schoolers today. One of the beloved characters of the movie is Ferris Bueller’s best friend, Cameron. He is more of a cautious character in the movie.

Matthew Broderick and Alan Ruck at a live game in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.
Source: Paramount Pictures 

Alan Ruck brought the character to life, so people were quite surprised to find out that he was 30 years old when he played the role. Ruck began his acting career back in the 80s, and it’s still going strong. He has been steadily working as a successful actor ever since. His most recent character is Charles Rittenhouse in Captive State. He is now 62 years old and no longer playing teenage characters.

Trevor Donovan- 90210

If you are a fan of teen-drama TV shows, you were probably just as happy as I was when the CW rebooted 90210 in 2008. In season 2, the show introduced Teddy Montgomery, played by Trevor Donovan. His character came onto the show as a jock, but it was later revealed that it was a defense mechanism as Teddy was dealing with his sexuality.

Trevor Donovan and Ryan Rottman at their marriage ceremony in 90210.
Source: MoviestillDB.com/Copyright: Copyright: The CW Television Network 

When Donovan was playing the gay stud on the show, he was 31 years old! Today he is 41 years old and looks exactly the same. After the series ended, Donovan made guest appearances in several TV shows, including NCIS and Lucifer. His most recent role is in The Baxter’s, where he plays Ryan Taylor for seven episodes.

Audrey Hepburn- Breakfast at Tiffany’s

Holly Golightly wasn’t a high school student in the 1961 film, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, but at 18 years old, she was still a teenager. Audrey Hepburn portrayed the iconic character and is a legend in the acting world. The actress was 32 years old when she won the part.

Audrey Hepburn and George Peppard are standing around at a party in the movie Breakfast at Tiffany’s.
Source: MoviestillDB.com/Copyright: Paramount Pictures

Hepburn was ranked as third-greatest female screen legend in Golden Age Hollywood by the America Film Institute. The stylish actress also has her name on International Best Dressed List Hall of Fame. Her character gave her a lot of recognition, and she continued to act until she sadly passed away in 1993, at 63 years old. She will continue to live on in our hearts forever, through her on-screen legacy.

Henry Winkler- Happy Days

Henry Franklin Winkler got his big break when he landed the role of Arthur ”Fonzie” Fonzarelli in the hit 70s sitcom, Happy Days. His character was an 18-year-old rebel. The director/producer of the series, Gary Marshal, had a completely different look in mind for the character. However, he quickly changed his mind after watching Winkler’s audition.

Henry Winkler, Robin Williams, and Ron Howard in a scene from Happy Days.
Source: MoviestillDB.com/Copyright: Henderson Productions

His character gradually became the focus of the show despite being a decade older than the character he played. He was 28 when he played the character; however, he didn’t fool many people. He looked much older than his character, but nobody really cared because of how beloved Fonzie was. Winkler continued to act well into the 2000s; however, at age 74, he seems to be slowing down.

Charisma Carpenter- Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Charisma Carpenter did an outstanding portraying the classic mean girl in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Her character Cordelia Chase was a pretty 17-year-old, and there was no one more perfect for the role. Little did anyone know, Carpenter was between the ages of 27-32 while playing the part.

Seth Green, Charisma Carpenter (left), Alyson Hannigan, and Alexis Denisof are hanging around a desk in Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Source: YouTube 

She was able to show off her impressive acting skills and continued to appear in movies and TV shows. She appeared in Boy Meets World and had a recurring role playing Kendall in Veronica Mars. She also appeared in an episode of Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders. Her most recent movie was Pegasus: Pony with a Broken Wing, where she played Melanie Killian.

Fun fact: Charisma Carpenter was a voice actress for Simone in one 1999 episode of Hey Arnold.

Andrew Garfield- The Amazing Spider-Man

Tom Holland seems to be the only actor who played Spider-Man, who was somewhat close in age to Peter Parker. In 2012 The Amazing Spider-Man Duology began. Andrew Garfield portrays the lead, and similarly to Maguire, and he was way older than his character.

Andrew Garfield is hanging onto a pole on the subway mid-fight in the Amazing Spider-Man.
Source: MoviestillDB.com/Copyright: Columbia Pictures

Holland was 28 when he played the high school character. He does look young, but many of these actors are way too good looking to be in high school. Am I the only one who had braces and pimples as a teenager?

Nevertheless, he did do a great job playing the character and is famous for the role. He went on to continue acting and is basically a movie star. He is currently filming The Eyes of Tammy Faye, where he plays Jim Bakker.

Paul Wesley- Vampire Diaries

As a producer, actor, and director, Paul Wesley has pretty successful in Hollywood. In 2009, he landed a notable role when he starred as Stefan Salvatore on the hit CW series, The Vampire Diaries. Although he played a high schooler, Wesley was a decade older than his 17-year-old character. Like many other actors, he doesn’t look like a teenager, but he’s still fun to look at.

Paul Wesley and Candice King are standing in the kitchen in The Vampire Diaries.
Source: MoviestillDB.com/Copyright: Copyright: CBS Television

As a director, Wesley started to direct The Vampire Diaries during season 5. At the beginning of season 8, he produced the show. Wesley gained recognition for his starring role in the series. He won several awards and continues to land acting roles. In 2018, he was added to the main cast of Tell Me a Story.

Winona Ryder- Girl Interrupted

Today, Winona Ryder is easily recognized as playing the part of Joyce Byers, in the hit Netflix series, Stranger Things. However, she has been acting in Hollywood since the mid-80s. She even had a role in Tim Burton’s 1988 classic, Beetlejuice. In 1999, Ryder earned a big role in Girl Interrupted. She portrayed 18-year-old Susanna Kayson.

Winona Ryder and James Mangold are laughing from a scene in Girl Interrupted.
Source: MoviestillDB.com/Copyright: Sony Pictures

The actress did a magnificent job playing an 18-year-old when she was 28! She fooled us all with youthful beauty. The actress has been recognized as a movie star and continued to appear in numerous TV shows. Right now, her hands are tied filming Stranger Things, but we can’t wait to see what this actress will do next.

Meredith Monroe- Dawson’s Creek

Dawson’s Creek was a teen drama series about the fictional lives of high school friends. Meredith Monroe will forever be remembered as Andie McPhee. Although she has acted previously to landing the role, the popularity of Dawson’s Creek is what put her on the map.

Kerr Smith and Meredith Monroe dressed for their graduation in a scene from Dawson’s Creek.
Source: Outerbanks Entertainment 

The show premiered in 1998 and continued until 2003. Monroe was almost 30 during filming. Although she portrayed a high school sophomore, Monroe was 29 in real life. Unlike some of the actors on this list, Meredith actually did look like a teenager while she was on the show. She continued to be involved in 2005. She earned a reoccurring role as Haley Hotchner on the hit show, Criminal Minds. Unfortunately, her character was killed off in season 4.

Monique Coleman- High School Musical

High School Musical is arguably the best movie produced by Disney Channel. The movie was an instant hit, and the main cast earned overnight fame. Monique Coleman has been acting since the mid-’90s, but her big break was when she portrayed Taylor McKessie in the movies.

Monique Coleman is sitting at a lunchroom table with Corbin Bleu and Chris Warren at the table behind her.
Source: Walt Disney Pictures 

Although she looks like a 16-year-old high school student, Coleman was actually 27 when the first High School Musical premiered. This means she was at least 30 during the last movie. Coleman landed TV and movie roles since the end of High School Musical, but nothing comes close to her Disney Character.

Fun fact: Did you know Coleman didn’t know how to swim? She actually needed to take swimming lessons while filming High School Musical two.