29 of the oldest actors to play teenagers on television

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This story originally appeared on Salon by Julia Pedrozo Santiago and Hanh Nguyen


Gossip Girl (2021)

Jordan Alexander, Thomas Doherty, Evan Mock, Emily Alyn Lind in Gossip Girl Season 1, Episode 1 – Photograph by Karolina Wojtasik/HBO Max

From Fame to Riverdale, here are some of the oldest well-known actors portraying life as a teen on screen.

With Mindy Kaling’s Never Have I Ever season 2 premiering this summer on Netflix, the high school comedy is not only a reminder of the difficulties of being a hormone-driven teenager . . . but also the difficulties of casting actors who are as young as the teens they portray.

While a much-publicized open casting call landed the 19-year-old newcomer Maitreyi Ramakrishnan to play the show’s lead, Devi Vishwakumar, her crush is played by an actor who left slamming lockers and cramming for the SAT behind more than a decade ago. At 30 years old, Darren Barnet, who portrays Paxton Hall-Yoshida, is only one of the many older actors to play a teenager onscreen.

Casting adults to play teens is a longstanding practice in Hollywood. While some may cry out against this inauthenticity, there are some logical reasons to cast someone who is no longer a minor. Most of the time, this comes down to work limitations. For one, underage actors are required to complete a certain amount of schooling during work hours. Also, the younger an actor is, the less time they are allowed on set. Plus, if more intimate scenes are involved, they’re more easily handled featuring older, consenting adults instead of children.

From Happy Days to Bridgerton, actors well into their 20s and even 30s have managed to (for the most part) convincingly depict the perils of adolescence. Check out a list of some of the oldest actors, all aged 25 or older, who’ve played teenagers on television.

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