Several times over now, we’ve explored a bevy of beauties in roles and scenes that they were simply too young for.
Hollywood loves casting young girls for all kinds of reasons. Some are just great actresses that can fulfill the role. Writers dreamt up some harrowing situations for a young girl to be put through, and some situations just because of Hollywood’s obsession with youth. After all, there are phenomenal actresses out there right now not yet 40 and are considered too old for certain roles.
Some boys are also cast in harrowing roles that put them in very bad situations. No matter the gender, if you’re young and a halfway decent actor, Hollywood might come calling and cast you in any number of films like the ones on this list. Here are 15 Roles That Should Have Been Played By Adults, or older actors at the very least.
15. Christina Ricci In Buffalo ’66
When you’re trying to shed your little precocious girl image, sometimes all you need is a lot of cleavage showing. Christina Ricci, every alt-kid of the 90s big crush (after Winona Ryder of course), was certainly of age in Buffalo ‘66, but seeing the still cherub-faced little Wednesday Addams practically coming out of her top for a few hours was a little jarring.
Before her role in Buffalo ‘66, Ricci was actually a little young to be starring as sexually promiscuous teen Wendy Hood in The Ice Storm. At 17, she was playing a 14-year-old girl who tries to seduce a much older boy. Then in The Opposite Of Sex, Ricci again is playing younger (and in reality is still underage), as pregnant Dede Truitt, visiting her gay half-brother, seducing his boyfriend and tricking him into believing he is actually the father.
14. Isabelle Fuhrman In Orphan
If a nine-year-old girl being an antagonist in a horror film isn’t enough for you, how about when she develops sexual feelings towards her adoptive father? Welcome to the strange world of Orphan, starring Isabelle Fuhrman. She played Esther in the film, a girl who is adopted by Kate and John Coleman, after their third child was stillborn.
Things take a really dark and twisted turn when they learn that their little sweet Esther is really a 33-year-old woman, Leena Klammer who suffers from hypopituitarism, which is a medical condition that stunts physical growth. Constantly looking like a little girl might have an emotional effect on someone and it did on Leena too, she had murdered at least seven people, one of which because he spurned her sexual advances.
Watching 12-year-old Fuhrman make sexual advances towards her much older co-star Peter Sarsgaard does have the creeped out intended effect on audiences, which helped earned the film acclaim and Fuhrman’s performance has been likened to classic evil girls like Patty McCormack (The Bad Seed) and Linda Blair (The Exorcist).
13. Macaulay Culkin In The Good Son
The name of the movie is The Good Son. The whole theme of the movie is just how evil can one kid be? But that doesn’t mean you had to cast a twelve-year-old boy as a psychopathic twelve-year-old boy, does it? Perhaps that was the point.
Clearly, Macaulay Culkin’s casting in a horror-thriller movie where he was the antagonist was the big news during the making of the film. He plays Henry Evans in the film, while Elijah Wood plays his cousin, Mark who catches on to how bad his cousin is and tries to stop him.
Perhaps the scariest thing about this movie is that while most thrillers and horror movies have some sort of explanation about why the cute little kid is so dark and twisted and evil, The Good Son doesn’t. There are no demonic possessions or ghosts here. Just evil in its worst possible form, in the form of a kid who just likes being bad for the heck of it.
12. Mila Kunis On That ’70s Show
Just imagine if Mila Kunis had been a little more forthcoming with the producers and the casting directors of That ’70s Show, as far as her age was concerned. We might not have been blessed with seeing all kinds of images and films with one of the most beautiful women on the planet. For eight years, fans watched her develop into not just a beautiful woman, but a pretty funny lady as well.
At just 14 years old she was way young to be playing a high school kid and was way too young for the casting call, which had required that anyone auditioning to be at least 18 years old. Wise beyond her years, Kunis told the producers that she would be 18, but didn’t specify when. Once they saw her in action, it was too late and they happened to have been won over and thought she was the perfect fit for Jackie.
11. Sophie Turner In Game Of Thrones
She’s made to turn on her own family and proclaim her father a traitor, forced to marry the king’s uncle, and that was only just the first few seasons of Game Of Thrones for Sophie Turner as Sansa Stark.
The Stark sisters certainly had a rough go of things after papa lost his head. But while Arya had been whisked away from King’s Landing and eventually learned how to fight and be an assassin, Sansa had to learn how to survive and navigate the harsh political waters; which could be far worse at times than dealing with the House of Black and White.
Sophie Turner’s portrayal of the young 15-year-old girl Sansa to a hardened 21-year-old woman not to be trifled with couldn’t have happened if not for the hardships she had to deal with even after being liberated from King’s Landing – no one, much less a child, should be forced into marriage, let alone be assaulted on her wedding night by Ramsay Bolton. That was one of the many horrors in question before fleeing and returning to her home to become the Lady of Winterfell she always wanted to be, now a twisted version of that title than the once bright-eyed 15-year-old girl once wanted to be.
10. Natalie Portman In The Professional
Her parents ok’d her smoking cigarettes on film, not to mention handling firearms and taking part in one of the strangest and most violent coming-of-age stories ever caught on film. As Mathilda, Natalie Portman (in her first ever film) shows a range that few young actors have ever shown, let alone in their first performance.
For that last reason alone, it’s plain and easy to see why The Professional is heralded as one of the great new classics. From Jean Reno’s understated performance as the hitman with a heart of gold, to Gary Oldman’s over-the-top performance as a vile rogue DEA agent, and of course Danny Aiello’s world-weary tough as nails fatherly figure. But Portman holding her own in every scene she’s in with such heavies elevates the movie from your standard indie fare.
9. Saoirse Ronan In Hanna + The Lovely Bones
Out of the three young ladies on this list known for being too young to wield firearms, two of them are known for other roles that they were probably a little too young to play. Saoirse Ronan is one of these girls. She was the oldest of our gun-totting trio when she made Hanna, at 17 years old (as opposed to Natalie Portman and Chloe Grace Moretz being 12-13 in Leon and Kick-Ass respectively.
Before her ass-kicking turn in Hanna, Ronan knew how to tug at heartstrings in The Lovely Bones, where she played murder victim, Susie Salmon. The film Ronan is most known for is playing a young aspiring author, Briony Tallis, a 13-year-old girl who lies about being a witness to a sex crime in Atonement.
At just 23 years old now, Ronan is pretty much too young for all of her roles. But it’s also a testament to why she’s cast in these roles. She can handle the workload and the emotional toll that they could take on a person.
8. Thora Birch In American Beauty
Exploring one’s sexuality is certainly a part of growing up and can be a rite of passage for most teenagers, which is what American Beauty is all about in a lot of ways: a coming of age story. It is also the story of a man having a mid-life crisis, lusting after his teenage daughter’s friend. It’s also a dark parody of the underbelly of suburbia. Perhaps it’s just about a stupid friggin’ plastic bag blowing in the wind.
In any event, seeing a real looking girl like Thora Birch was refreshing for any time in Hollywood, so of course she’s cast against super blond and super thin Mena Suvari was done to illustrate the characters mindset as Jane (Birch) begins to realize how beautiful she is while Suvari’s Angela starts to deteriorate behind walls of makeup.
How young is too young? Birch was 17 when the movie was filmed and, due to child labor laws, needed her parents’ consent and them to be on set when she filmed one of the movie’s pivotal scenes where she gets naked. Conversely, Suvari was already 20 when the movie was made and didn’t need any permission slips signed. But instead of finding someone just months older, director Sam Mendes thought Birch was perfect to pay the part.
7. Abigail Breslin In Little Miss Sunshine
She grew up to be very va-va-voom, but back in 2006, Abigail Breslin was a ten-year-old precious little cutie pie who won over audiences hearts in Little Miss Sunshine. The film told the story of a dysfunctional family (in every sense of the word) who come together during a road trip to take Olive (Breslin) to the Little Miss Sunshine beauty pageant.
Besides being around Alan Arkin and his profanity-laced tirades, which the producers were smart enough to make sure Breslin really was listening to music on her headphones during filming, the film’s final scene was Breslin performing a risqué dance sequence during the beauty pageant, one that horrified the rest of the attendees, all to the tune of Rick James’ ‘Superfreak’.
Instead of pulling her off the stage, her family decided to join her onstage. The antics get them heaved out of the state of California. The movie earned all kinds of awards and nominations and launched Breslin’s career, even if it’s due to her learning how to work it like a pole dancer at an early age.
6. Darlan Cunha In City Of God
There are some folks who proclaim City Of God to be one of the greatest films ever made. Taking place in the Brazilian favela Cidade de Deus (City of God), the film shows the scary reality of growing up in the slum and introduces us to Darlan Cunha and Douglas Silvas, who were both 12 years old when the film came out.
The kids who grow up in the slum learn quickly how to rob, use guns and violence to scare people, and how to kill. But despite the dearth of violent scenes it quickly became heralded and spawned a franchise in Brazil, with a tv series and another movie, both called City Of Men.
Silva plays Lil’ Dice, a kid growing up around gang violence who becomes a drug lord himself. Cunha plays a drug addict who works for Dice’s group. Life’s nature vs. nurture debate is hurled through a window and ran over with a dump truck as both sides of the coin help the bloody upbringing of the film’s stars.
5. Maisie Williams In Game Of Thrones
While so many actors and actresses performances on Game Of Thrones are rightfully praised, Maisie Williams’ portrayal of Arya Stark might go down as one of the best ever for a TV show.
Even before watching her father’s head roll, Arya had little interest in learning how to be a demure little girl, much less a woman and had been learning how to be a warrior when her father was murdered by the Lannisters.
Being a kid is rough in Westeros, Arya’s formative years were left grieving for her family, plotting vengeance and learning how to be a dangerous assassin. Both Arya and Sansa are now reunited with the rest of what’s left of their family and ironically enough, both actually got what they wanted but in the worst way possible. With only one season left, here’s hoping the Starks finally get to have the happy ending that has eluded them all of these years.
4. Olivia Hussey/Claire Danes In Romeo And Juliet
It’s the most well-known and beloved tragic love story of all time. The fated love story of Romeo and Juliet; two teenagers from warring families who couldn’t give a crap less about family feuds and just wanted to be together. Realizing that the couple will never be allowed to be together, the star-crossed lovers decided to off each other and be together forever in death.
Every so often, Hollywood will drudge up the source material for its own adaptation. Thanks to this, this entry gets not one, but two young Juliet Capulets – Olivia Hussey in Franco Zeffirelli’s Romeo And Juliet from 1968 is first. The film debuted when she was 17 (still considered very young in 1968), but she was 15 while filming and garnered a Golden Globe award for her performance, which needed special permission to show Hussey topless in one scene.
The incomparable Claire Danes is the second Juliet on this racey list, in the equally popular version of the story – William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet. Garnering a ton of jealousy for starring across the mega teen idol, Leonardo DiCaprio, Danes was 16 at the time of filming, which means that she too was a little too young to be topless, so in theory, she wouldn’t even be allowed in the theater to watch her own movie.
3. Chloe Grace Moretz In Kick-Ass
Chloe Grace Moretz became a star by playing a role she was much too young for, when she played the foul-mouthed Hit Girl in Kick-Ass. A little girl who swore like a sailor, she even had no problem telling at least one person “C U Next Tuesday.” Her mouth only matched her fighting and firearm prowess.
Fast forward a few years and Moretz still barely a teenager was cast as high school senior, Carrie White in the remake of the Sissy Spacek Steven King adaptation. But it is her role in The Equalizer that makes our list. She played a teen prostitute named Alina, someone who met Denzel Washington’s Equalizer character pretty much nightly while he extolled his observations on The Old Man And The Sea to the young girl.
While her character does set some of the film’s story in motion, heartstrings could have been pulled a slightly older actress, Moretz isn’t the youngest actress to be a prostitute, but her age didn’t do anything for the story except reinforce the winning combination of guns, girls, and Denzel (Man On Fire, Deja Vu), seems to be a winning combination.
2. Jodelle Ferland In Tideland
When we last left Jodelle Ferland, she was terrifying the inhabitants of the Silent Hill franchise. But before that, she got to star in and work with everyone’s favorite quirky director, Terry Gilliam in the film, Tideland.
The film’s imagery and story of an orphan (Ferland) traversing the Texas desert with severed Barbie heads for friends caused a critical divide. Even Gillam’s fellow Monty Python alum, Michael Palin had thought it was either his best work or his worst and was left undecided.
Perhaps that’s because of the fact that at nine years old, Ferland’s character develops a relationship with a woman who used to date her now dead father and keeps him preserved via taxidermy. If that’s not creeptastic enough for you, how about Ferland’s Jeliza developing feelings towards the ex’s mentally unstable younger brother – he was 24 at the time.
1. WWE’s Tammy Lynn Sytch
How could someone at 21 years of age be too young for a role? Maturity comes into play when you’re cast as a villainous fitness sexpot in the (then) World Wrestling Federation. In the mid-nineties, Tammy Sytch was a one of a kind girl-next-door cast to be a one of a kind WWF valet. Before her, women were either wrestlers or Miss Elizabeth. She got physically involved in her charge’s matches and being seen as the first Diva of sorts was one of the few faces (and to die for bodies) that helped launch the now mythical Attitude Era.
But that was all on camera. Backstage, as revealed in shoot interviews and in her book was a much different story. The trifecta of drugs, being a drug mule, and openly cheating on her boyfriend with Shawn Michaels was just the tip of the iceberg. According to Something To Wrestle With, Bruce Prichard’s podcast, she got increasingly harder to deal with as her fame and backstage antics grew.
She was literally handed the world thanks to the opportunities given to her by Vince McMahon and the adoration she received from the WWE fans. But sadly life on the road and a promiscuous personality caught up with Sunny and she fell on the proverbial wrestler hard times. Luckily she isn’t a statistic yet, so there’s always a chance she’ll get healthy, but her glory days are behind her, leaving fans to wonder what could have happened once upon a time.