This article was originally published on JustStarz
Young actresses paired with older actors seems to be a standard formula in Hollywood. Yes, movies and tv shows are for acting, and it's not real life. But is it not slightly weird when the people playing characters in love or hooking up are dozens of years apart? Or when mothers are two years older than their sons? Hollywood has made some very questionable casting choices, and it's time to unpack them. Here are some wild examples of age gaps in movies and TV shows that will undoubtedly creep you out.
Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper
In Silver Linings Playbook, Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper play characters who meet each other at fragile points in their lives. They gradually start to fall for each other and form a very tumultuous romance. However, in their real lives, Jennifer was a very young twenty-two years old, while Bradley was already approaching his forties. Nonetheless, the two actors were highly talented, and the movie was very successful, winning multiple awards.
Jennifer might've been very young while filming this, but she won the Academy Award for Best Actress and became the second-youngest Best Actress winner.
Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher
When Mila Kunis was first cast on That '70s Show, she was only fourteen. By the time the first episode aired, she was fifteen and her soon-to-be on-screen lover, Ashton Kutcher, was twenty years old. Apparently, she lied to the casting agents about her age to secure the part. However, when they later learned her actual age, they didn't want to change her character's storyline, so the romance between the actors began to brew, despite their age difference.
Ashton Kutcher shared how awkward he felt when it was time to shoot their first kissing scene, saying, "It was really weird. I was like, 'Isn't this illegal? Like, am I allowed?'...She was 14! She was like my little sister."
Keira Knightley and Orlando Bloom
The movie Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl started shooting in 2002 when Keira Knightley was only seventeen. Therefore all of her scenes shot with then heartthrob Orlando Bloom, who was twenty-five, were filmed while she was underage. She may have been eighteen when the movie was officially released in 2003, but to be clear, Orlando Bloom was clearly kissing a teenager. This definitely gets a bit strange.
Though it seems no one in Hollywood cares about age because as this list continues and you read on, you'll see how weird and common this has been in the land of stars for years.
Jason Earles and Miley Cyrus
Miley Cyrus is known for starring in the iconic show Hannah Montana at the very young age of thirteen. But many people don't know Jason Earles, who played her brother on the show, was not a teenager. He was twenty-nine years old, while his character was supposed to be sixteen when the show first aired. To give some perspective, Miley has only now reached the age of twenty-nine, while Jason is over forty years old.
Why Hollywood casting agents don't cast actors closer to the character's age will forever be a puzzling question. However, this is much less weird than actors playing a couple with this age gap.
Frankie Muniz and Reagan Dale Neis
Oh you know, just another day in Hollywood full of teenagers kissing young adults. This time it features Frankie Muniz and Reagan Dale Neis, who were both in Malcolm in the Middle. Their characters started dating for the first time in a 2002 episode when Frankie was only seventeen and Reagan was a young twenty-six years old. With an almost ten-year age gap between the actors, you could say the PDA, whether fake or not, was a bit inappropriate.
Although the difference in Frankie and Reagan's age seems worrying, Hollywood's casting only gets weirder from here on out.
Maitreyi Ramakrishnan and Darren Barnet
Maitreyi Ramakrishnan was seventeen when she was cast as Devi in the new hit Netflix show, Never Have I Ever. This series has been known for breaking South Asian stereotypes and bringing some well-deserved South Asian representation to Hollywood. But that's not all it's known for. Following the seemingly traditional path of Hollywood, Maitreyi found herself in a role where her love interest, Darren Barnet, was actually twenty-eight years old when they filmed their steamy scenes.
Since this show is new, only filming and premiering within the last two years, you would think the casting directors would have learned this time and maybe gotten actors who were similar in age.
Margot Robbie and Leonardo DiCaprio
The Wolf of Wall Street was a crazy film full of illegal substances, chaos, sex, and money. It starred no other than Leonardo DiCaprio, who was approaching forty years old, while he filmed this movie. The gorgeous Margot Robbie played his wife at twenty-three years old. With a sixteen-year age difference, you can be sure Leonardo didn't mind. Considering his dating track record in real life only consists of girlfriends under the age of twenty-five, Margot just made the cusp with one.
The Wolf of Wall Street was widely considered one of the greatest films of the 2010s, so that might overshadow the age gap between the starring actors.
Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt
Edge of Tomorrow is an action movie starring superstar Tom Cruise and the talented Emily Blunt. Their characters fight an alien invasion, yet they still find time to develop a romance despite the war. While filming this movie Tom Cruise was fifty-one years old, which was a whopping twenty years older than his love interest, Emily Blunt. The pattern is definitely apparent in Hollywood; pairing older men with younger actresses seems to be essential.
Though considering the pattern in Hollywood with casting younger women, it's quite surprising this actress wasn't in her twenties while filming. Regardless of age, the movie still seemed to do well when it hit the box office.
Jennifer Robertson and Tim Rozon
Jennifer Robertson and Tim Rozon, are both stars of the recent hit TV show Schitt's Creek. They play Jocelyn and Mutt, a formerly-estranged son and mother. Jennifer is quite the actress, convincing audiences that she really is a mother. But to much surprise, she is only five years older than Tim in real life. Strangely, people can play mother and son this close in age, yet there are actors over twenty years apart playing lovers.
Schitt's Creek did a way better job casting than most of the movies and TV shows on this list. It must be a miracle both of these actors were born in the same decade.
Jean Reno and Natalie Portman
In the film, Léon: The Professional, Jean Reno, and Natalie Portman have an unlikely kinship. Essentially Natalie's character has her entire family murdered, and Jean's character takes her in. He begins to train the little girl to be a killer, but that's not even the disturbing part. They start to have a budding romance, though the original French version apparently plays the romance up much more. Oh yeah, was it mentioned that she is thirteen years old?
This uncomfortable age gap is ridiculous, putting them thirty-three years apart. Natalie Portman is only thirteen years old, and her character is supposed to be twelve, so it doesn't make it any better.
Sean Connery and Catherine Zeta-Jones
The film Entrapment focuses on the relationship between Sean Connery and Catherine Zeta-Jones, who play onscreen lovers. But there's one catch that can't go unnoticed, with Sean being almost four decades older than Catherine, he could've practically been her father. Whether casting these particular actors despite their age difference was an artistic choice or a fulfilled fantasy for one of the casting directors, you can't deny that it's pretty strange.
People like to say age is just a number, but when it comes to cinematic relationships, maybe the birth year of the actors should matter just a little bit. And believe it or not, this isn't the worst one!
Jack Nicholson and Helen Hunt
Jack Nicholson is an actor known for his many significant roles, most recognizable for his iconic performance in The Shining. Though this time, his role in As Good as It Gets focuses on a strange man who starts to develop a crush on a woman played by Helen Hunt. Throughout the movie, they fluctuate between clearly liking each other and awkwardly denying the sparks they both feel. However, what makes this film interesting, is that Jack is sixty years old and his love interest Helen, is only thirty-four.
This movie demonstrates another example of an onscreen couple with a significant age gap. Though no one seems to bat an eye at their age, it's still very apparent.
Jennifer Lopez and Ryan Guzman
Jennifer Lopez plays a high school teacher in the 2014 movie called The Boy Next Door. Her character has a one-night stand with one of her students, who is only eighteen years old, played by Ryan Guzman. Not only was Jennifer born almost two decades before Ryan, but the plotline itself is just creepy. The age gap in the movie and concept is unsettling and inappropriate. But Hollywood eats this right up.
At least this time, they didn't get an actor who still had 'teen' in their age. But it's still pretty surprising this type of movie can get this far.
Will Smith and Margot Robbie
In the film Focus, Will Smith plays a con artist who takes an aspiring femme fatale under his wing, cue Margot Robbie. The classic trope of an older man protecting a beautiful young woman from the world and showing her the ropes and how to live life correctly. But just how much older is Will Smith? When the movie was released, the two actors had a twenty-two-year age gap.
The talented Margot Robbie was in her early twenties while shooting this film, sitting at a young twenty-four years old. In contrast, Will Smith was closer to fifty years old.
Anne Hathaway and Steve Carell
Two fan favorites, Anne Hathaway, and Steve Carell have very established careers and know their way around Hollywood. They starred in the action comedy, Get Smart back in 2008. Their characters were top secret spies who turned lovers. During this film, Steve Carell was forty-five years old, while his counterpart, Anne Hathaway, was still a young twenty-five. While he was twice her age, love was still written in the stars for them. Or the script, rather.
It's hard to imagine Steve Carell as anything but his beloved role as Michael Scott in The Office. Nevertheless, his character in this movie clearly has no issue pursuing a woman half his age.
Alexander Skarsgård and Bel Powley
Another example of an uncomfortable age gap in movie history showcases itself in The Diary of a Teenage Girl. Bel Powley is twenty-three years old but plays a fifteen-year-old girl. The entire plotline is about this teenage girl obsessed with losing her virginity. An affair ensues with her own mother's boyfriend, played by Alexander Skarsgård. The concept of the film is messed-up and could be seen as a celebration of pedophilia.
There is a sixteen-year age difference between the actors, which is still quite significant. This movie will definitely leave you with an uneasy feeling.
Tom Skerritt and Drew Barrymore
This movie might take the cake for creepy age gaps—Tom Skerritt and Drew Barrymore star in the erotic thriller Poison Ivy. In the film, Drew plays a young school girl who creeps her way into a schoolmate's family and seduces the father, who is clearly much older than her. Arguably could be her own father's age. But it's just as unsettling in real life because Tom was almost sixty years old during this film, and Drew wasn't even eighteen.
The two actors had multiple erotic scenes, which are incredibly uncomfortable to watch, considering their ages. With over a forty-year age gap between the two, it's as scandalous as it gets.
Richard Gere and Winona Ryder
Richard Gere and Winona Ryder star in the movie Autumn in New York. It follows the story of a 48-year-old womanizer who meets a young 22-year-old girl who is dying from a heart condition. The movie only gets creepier as they start a taboo romance that is kept pretty low-key—an interesting casting choice to choose actors with a twenty-two-year age difference between them. Ironically the age Winona was supposed to be in the film.
As taboo as the relationship on screen feels, it's a paradox that the age of the actual actors isn't as taboo. Maybe one day, a film with a couple born in the same decade will ensue, but for now, there are even more films with age gaps that will leave you unsettled.
Robert Redford and Demi Moore
Another erotic drama film, Indecent Proposal, stars Robert Redford and Demi Moore. Demi was only thirty when she made this film and her co-star Robert was twenty-six years her senior. It's not entirely uncommon to cast an older actor and a younger actress but to cast people upwards of twenty years apart in age never gets less shocking. Another example of Hollywood doing what it does best, casting uncomfortable relationships.
A dream come true in Hollywood. The leading men seem to be getting older, while their love interests stay the same age: young.
Denzel Washington and Kelly Reilly
The film Flight stars Denzel Washington and Kelly Reilly, a couple with various issues. Denzel's character is an alcoholic pilot who crashes a plane and struggles to maintain a healthy relationship with a girl he meets, played by Kelly. The age difference isn't a part of this movie's plot or even mentioned as an obstacle to their relationship; it is still surprising nonetheless. Significant age differences are obviously completely normalized and not thought about twice.
Unless it’s specifically a part of the plot, it’s pretty unlikely you will ever see a movie where the female romantic lead is older than the male.
Nicolas Cage and Eva Mendes
Ghost Rider is an exciting Marvel movie full of adventure that stars Nicolas Cage and Eva Mendes. They play a former high school sweetheart couple, though the actors are actually eleven years apart in real life. This film is definitely not as creepy as the others, given that it's not a girl in her twenties paired with a man old enough to be her father. Nevertheless, the age gap is evident.
It’s so ingrained in our culture to see younger women with older men, so this may not be as shocking as it probably should be.
John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John
One of the most iconic couples is John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John, who played Sandy Olsson and Danny Zuko in Grease. When they acted in this musical, they weren't that far apart in age; Olivia was only five years older. Yet they were playing high school seniors who were supposed to be seventeen. And in reality, they were nowhere close to that age, with Olivia playing a character eleven years younger than her!
Although they were playing high schoolers, it's comforting to know the actors themselves were all similar in age. Otherwise, it would have been another case of the film industry having a major issue with casting people underage.
Keanu Reeves and Ali Wong
For some reason, this duo wasn't as shocking as the others, and maybe it's because it's the first woman that is actually approaching forty years old. Either way, Keanu Reeves and Ali Wong star in a romantic comedy that is reminiscent of Ali's life called Always Be My Maybe. While the pair undoubtedly have chemistry on screen, they are seventeen years apart off-screen! The bizarre age gaps between actors are never-ending.
This movie seems to be as close as it gets to a normal relationship with an age gap. Much better than the ridiculous plotlines of teenagers with sixty-year-old men.
Shirley Henderson as Moaning Myrtle
In a bit of a different yet still oddly bizarre scenario, here is an actress that gets away with playing much younger than they really are in person. Shirley Henderson plays the creepy yet pitiful Moaning Myrtle in the classic Harry Potter series. She was thirty-five years old when she started playing the fourteen-year-old character. It's quite impressive that she could manage to look and act that much younger than her real age.
Shirley played this role for years to come. Though it is quite bizarre that a thirty-five to forty-year-old woman is acting with all fourteen to eighteen-year-old kids.
Amy Poehler and Rachel McAdams
Amy Poehler played Rachel McAdams' mom in Mean Girls. Though it was a convincing performance, it was shocking to find out how close they are in age. Rachel was twenty-six years young, while Amy was only thirty-three. For it to be true in real life, Amy Poehler would have given birth to Rachel at seven years old! Now, this example is way more comforting than any of the other disturbing couple movies.
Though these actresses are only seven years apart, they played their roles so well. Who would've known they could have actually been sisters rather than a mother-daughter duo?
Sarah Michelle Gellar and James Marsters
This might not be as surprising by now, but it fits the trend of uncomfortable age gaps between actors playing lovers. In Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Sarah Michelle Gellar was twenty years old when her love interest was introduced to the show, played by thirty-five-year-old James Marsters. This meant that he was fifteen years older when their characters got romantically involved. These actors have over a decade between them; how creepy and fascinating.
But if you think about the fact that James's character, Spike, is technically centuries older than Buffy because he is a vampire, then it's not so bad.
Trevor Donovan in 90210
Trevor Donovan is best known for playing the role of Teddy Montgomery on the teen drama television series 90210. But what's so intriguing is that Trevor was just shy of his thirty-first birthday when his character became a student at West Beverly High. How can a thirty-one-year-old man play a sixteen-year-old boy? It's strange for sure, but he made it happen! Hilarious and weird to imagine a thirty-something-year-old in high school.
Some of these actors really do look this young whether it's makeup, special effects, or the product of healthy living; Trevor definitely has that youthful look.
Debbie Reynolds and Gene Kelly
Debbie Reynolds was cast in the musical Singin' in the Rain when she was only nineteen years old. But her onscreen love interest was more than just a few years older than her. Gene Kelly was forty when he started their fictional relationship. Slightly over double her age, once again the creepy age gap between these actors is confusing. Why is it necessary to always have a young woman with an older man?
Many fans don't realize there are substantial age gaps at play in most of their favorite shows and films as classic as this one.
Cuba Gooding Jr and Laurence Fishburne
Boyz n the Hood was a critically acclaimed film about gang culture. Starring actors like Ice Cube, Cuba Gooding Jr, and Laurence Fishburne, it was praised for its emotional acting and writing. Laurence Fishburne was born in 1961, and Cuba Gooding Jr. was born in 1968, making them only six years apart. Despite their age difference, Laurence played Cuba's onscreen father. This made Cuba only six years younger than his dad, which sounds absurd.
Although the two actors were only twenty-three and twenty-nine years old, they really captured the father-son relationship. No one doubted for a second that Laurence wasn't actually old enough to be the father.
Alicia Silverstone and Cary Elwes
Here is a creepy example that will make you wonder what on earth was going on when people thought this was a good idea. The movie, The Crush follows a fourteen-year-old girl, played by Alicia Silverstone, and her obsession with a guy who just moved in near her. However, this isn't just a teen crush. It's a twenty-eight-year-old man played by Cary Elwes. Alicia's character makes romantic advances to Cary's character the entire movie, which feels widely inappropriate.
The age gap in the script happens to be the same age difference as the actors in their real lives. Fourteen years separates them, and it's definitely enough time to make anyone uncomfortable.
Gene Wilder and Kelly LeBrock
You might be familiar with Gene Wilder from Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory, but his role is very different in this movie. Kelly LeBrock stars alongside in this romantic comedy, The Woman in Red. Gene Wilder attempts to catch Kelly's attention throughout the film and desperately craves her love. Though it's not explicitly mentioned in the movie, Kelly is much younger than Gene. Twenty-seven years younger, to be exact.
You can admit this is weird. It's gross but, unfortunately, not uncommon at this point. Hollywood loves to imagine women in their twenties with older men, which is quite disturbing.
Kate Winslet and David Kross
Now this movie is plain disturbing. It's called The Reader and stars Kate Winslet and David Kross. Kate Winslet's character seduces a fifteen-year-old boy, played by David Kross. She takes care of him when she finds him sick, but their relationship becomes much more. Not only does Winslet play a guard at a Nazi concentration camp, but she also tries her best to hide it from the boy. And plays a thirty-six-year-old woman who becomes involved with a fifteen-year-old boy.
Despite the disturbing age difference in the movie, the actors still had a significant amount of years that separated them in their real lives, fifteen years to be exact.
Hugh Laurie and Leighton Meester
Who would've guessed it? It's a pretty young woman with an older man! In this comedy, The Oranges, Hugh Laurie and Leighton Meester fall in love in a very taboo way. Hugh Laurie's character has a fling with his best friend's daughter, who is played by no other than Leighton Meester. While Hugh is fifty-two years old and Leighton is barely twenty-five, they're sitting at an astonishing twenty-seven-year age gap.
Maybe there was an exception with this romance; Leighton's character isn't underage after all. Though she's still significantly younger, and it's still weird.
Woody Allen and Mariel Hemingway
Woody Allen is known to be a creep in Hollywood and maybe this is why. In the film Manhattan, Isaac, played by Allen carries on a relationship with a high schooler Tracy, played by Hemingway. While filming, Woody Allen was forty-three years old, and Mariel Hemingway was seventeen. What a completely inappropriate and unnecessary relationship. Art imitated life for Allen here because years later, he would go on to start a real-life affair with the adopted daughter of his then-wife, Mia Farrow.
This must be all in service to the male gaze and it can't get any creepier. One of the many flaws of Hollywood.
Peter O'Toole and Jodie Whittaker
Just when you thought the age difference between actors couldn't get any more prominent, it did. The movie Venus is a story of a sexually-charged friendship starring Peter O'Toole and Jodie Whittaker. Peter's character is a dying writer who comes back to life when he meets his friend's niece. He comes on to Jodie's character many times, and they seem to enjoy each other's company, though she never lets him take it too far.
These two have a whopping fifty-year age difference, and no one bats an eye. Oh, Hollywood, newsflash, this isn't artsy and cute; it's weird.
George Lopez and Belita Moreno
The George Lopez show was known for its comedy gold and focused heavily on the relationship between George and his mother, played by Belita Moreno. Though it was a convincing duo, they are surprisingly only eleven years apart, which would have made Belita's character a mother at eleven years old if it were accurate. It will remain a mystery why Hollywood casting agents don't just choose actors who have real age differences but at least, in this example, it's not disturbing.
These actors are very skilled in their craft because no one suspected a thing! Belita could be George's sister rather than the mother in this case.
Ann Morgan Guilbert and Renée Taylor
This example is much more wholesome and acceptable than most of the others. In the popular sitcom, The Nanny, Ann Morgan Guilbert and Renée Taylor played mother and daughter, which is funny because they were only five years apart, which would have made Ann a mother at five years old. Though they play their characters so well, you would have never guessed. The hilarious mother, daughter, and granddaughter trio with Fran Drescher in the mix is a classic.
It's refreshing to see a show that cast actors all in similar age ranges, yet these two are still capable of portraying their characters that are supposed to be generations apart.
Cory Monteith on Glee
The film industry likes to cast older people as teenagers, and here is another example of that! Cory Monteith was twenty-seven years old when Glee first aired. Although he was in his late twenties, he played a sophomore in high school. Cory was nearly as old as some of the adult characters when he started acting on the show. However, you would have no idea because he plays the character so well.
There are many romantic age gaps in tv and movies between actors and characters, and now it's no secret that actors commonly play characters significantly younger than their actual age also!
Gabrielle Carteris on Beverly Hills, 90210
Here is a shocking discovery that most fans probably didn't pay attention to when watching the show Beverly Hills, 90210. There might be a reason that Gabrielle Carteris' character on the show was so mature! This is because although she played Andrea Zuckerman, a high school sophomore, Gabrielle was twenty-nine years old at the time, which is very much not a high schooler. Actually over a decade older than her role portrayed her as.
Though she really does not age because most people couldn't even tell she was that much older than her character, it must be lucky genes!
Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney
White Christmas is an American musical from the 1950s that was extremely popular; it features Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney. When the movie premiered, Bing was fifty-one, and Rosemary was twenty-six years old, making him nearly twice her age. These characters are worlds apart, though they are portrayed to be similar in age. A classic age gap In the world of motion pictures. Older men love to be paired with beautiful young women.
This trend of young women starring opposite much older men clearly has been around for almost a century and doesn't seem to be dying out anytime soon.