Cast Age-Appropriate Actors

A 27 year old can’t pass for a 17 year old, and it’s getting ridiculous


Photo Universal

Universal Studios released still images of the “Dear Evan Hansen” movie when the trailer dropped. Ben Platt, as 17-year-old Evan Hansen, sits in a car with Julianne Moore, who plays Evan’s mother Heidi.

Zoe Thaxton, Staff Writer

I don’t believe Hollywood knows what a teenager looks and acts like. I’ve been catching up on some TV shows, watching new movie trailers, and for media marketed toward teenagers, none of the characters seem realistic to me.

Two main examples come to mind: “Dear Evan Hansen” and “Outer Banks.”

Now, “Dear Evan Hansen” hasn’t been released yet, but the trailer dropped a few months ago. This movie musical follows a similar plot to its Broadway counterpart: at this high school, one student commits suicide and this anti-social boy, Evan, lies to the dead boy’s family about being his friend, which then spirals out of control. Very serious plot, but I couldn’t take it seriously.

Ben Platt, the original actor for Evan on Broadway and the one playing him in the movie, stood out like a sore thumb. It could’ve been his wig or his large cast… but he also looked much older than a majority of the cast.

Ben Platt is 27 years old. His character, Evan, is 17 or 18 since he’s a senior in high school. I don’t think Ben passes for that age anymore. Personally, I also don’t think Nik Dodani, who also plays Jared (another high schooler), doesn’t look that age either. He looks like a grown adult just like Ben. It looks off.

“Outer Banks” has a similar problem, except it’s with the entire cast, not just one actor. In the show, these teenagers run around, trying to find one of their dads and find treasure while they do so. I repeat, they are supposed to be teenagers, around 16.

I don’t buy it for one second. I’m 16!

Now, this isn’t a call out for these actors or this movie and TV show in particular. They just happen to be the most recent case I’ve noticed. Plenty of other shows cast older actors to play teenagers: “Riverdale,” “On My Block,” “Glee,” “13 Reasons Why,” even the teenage characters from “Stranger Things” are pushing their mid-to-late-twenties now.

I get it. People age. That’s not the issue. It’s an issue with Hollywood itself.

I don’t like casting adults for teenage roles. It sets high expectations for teenagers to act a certain way or look a certain way. It allows Hollywood to sexual that age frame and make it more adult. It could also be due to child labor laws, but there are shows that cast children and teenagers before and they made it work.

Shows that cast real teenagers for a plot that revolves around them being teenagers are superior. As I dig into more TV shows, I see how little shows for teenagers have actual teenagers for the part.

Though, one of my favorite shows has teenagers playing their age: “I Am Now Okay with This.” It didn’t rely on the audience to suspend their belief that these actors were in high school, because it was obvious. Why? This show casted actual teenagers as main characters.  Wyatt Oleff and Sophia Lillis weren’t even 18 when the show came out. They were their characters age (around 16-17) and looked like it too! They behaved like teenagers and weren’t overtly sexualized or acting like adults.

I understand that it’s not the actors’ fault for taking a role. Hollywood needs to understand that actors that look too old may not get their point across if they can’t relate to the audience it’s trying to reach. Also, sexualizing minors by using adults isn’t cool. It’s flat-out weird. Keeping actors around the age of their characters is the way to go.