Will, Secret Age

From Danny Zuko to Daenerys Targaryen: 29+ Stars Who Were Younger or Older Than Their On-Screen Roles


| LAST UPDATE 08/09/2022

By Manny Ray

As you already know, not everything is as it seems when it comes to the world of Hollywood. But something tells us you didn't know that these infamous roles had your favorite celebs aged up (or aged down) from their off-screen selves. From 31-year-old high-school students to 14-year-old posers, you've never seen these stars like this before...

Grease: Sandy Olsson & Danny Zuko, 17 & 18 vs. 29 & 23 Years-Old

You already know that they go together (like rama lama lama ka dinga da dinga dong), but did you know that the high-school sweethearts were actually, well, regular sweethearts? That's right, on-screen, the Rydell High it-couple might have been finishing up senior year, but off-screen?

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Paramount Pictures / Fotos International via Getty Images

The summer lovers were actually far from their on-screen ages: 17-year-old Sandy Olsson (Olivia Newton-John) was actually 29, while Danny Zuko (John Travolta), who "was sweet, just turned 18," was actually 23. Regardless, they remained hopelessly devoted to one another, so does it even matter?

Hannah Montana: Jackson Stewart, 16 vs. 29 Years-Old

Sweet niblets! We hate to be the one to tell you, but it appears we've been played this entire time. That's right, back in the day, Miley Stewart wasn't the only one living the best of both worlds: Jason Earles, who played her 16-year-old brother, was an entirely different person when the cameras stopped rolling…

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Pinterest via Ollertodd

Off-screen, Hannah Montana star, Jason Earles, was actually far from a teenager. You see, the actor was actually 29-years-old when the show first aired. By the time the Disney series wrapped up, the child-star was already well into his 30's. As for today? The actor is, wait for it, 43-years-old. We'll give you a minute to let that sink in.

Catch Me if You Can: Frank Abagnale, 17 vs. 30-Years-Old

From a Pan American pilot to a Georgia doctor, you already know that con-artist Frank Abagnale is a pro at playing us. But did you know that the actor behind the legendary role was also doing a whole lot of conning himself? That's right, off-screen, Leo DiCaprio was actually much older than his on-screen role.

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DreamWorks SKG via Getty Images

While he might have played a 17-year-old master of deception on-screen, DiCaprio was almost pushing 30 when he made his debut as one of the FBI's most wanted. From 'Romeo' to Revenant Oscar-winner, is there anything the actor hasn't ticked off the list?

Harry Potter: Moaning Myrtle, 14 vs. 37-Years-Old

In a world filled with invisible cloaks and flying broomsticks, it appears the real magic was going down behind-the-scenes when this Harry Potter star convinced us she was a moping teen. Thought Dumbledore was impressive? Wait until you hear about Moaning Myrtle's off-screen reality...

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Pinterest via DIY Costume & Party Ideas

We all remember when the 14-year-old student first haunted our childhood dreams. But back in the day, as one of Hogwarts' most infamous faces took to our screens, the teenaged ghost was actually much older than her role suggested... over 20 years older, to be exact. Yep, actress Shirley Henderson was actually 37-years-old. What is this sorcery?

Stranger Things: Steve Harrington, 18 vs. 28-Years-Old

Perhaps you were too busy watching Eleven fight off evil Demogorgons to notice this next on-screen deception. We don't blame you, I mean, have you seen those things? Nonetheless, we all know how that story ends, so let's move on to more important things, like how old, exactly, is actor Joe Keery when he's not in Hawkins?

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Vanity Fair via Netflix

On-screen, the star might play an 18-year-old high-school jock, but off-screen? Stranger Things' 'Steve Harrington' is actually a 28-year-old rocker, with his very own psychedelic rock band, Post Animal. We don't know about you guys, but this might just be more shocking than that season 3 finale.

Bring it On: Isis, 17 vs. 28-Years-Old

Two, four, six, eight, what do we appreciate? Bring it On star, Gabrielle Union's ability to play a high-school cheerleader so, well, perfectly. On-screen, the East Compton Clovers' captain might have been a pro at making it to Nationals, but off-screen?

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Refinery 29 via Moviestore Collection

The cheer-leading legend was actually just a 28-year-old actress, who was clearly very good at her job. In fact, Gabrielle Union must have been doing something right, as it's already been decades since we caught the actress in uniform, yet we can still do that Clovers' routine in our sleep.

The Vampire Diaries: Stefan Salvatore, 17 vs. 27-Years-Old

We get it, when you're an immortal, blood-sucking vampire, age is literally just a number. But something tells us you weren't expecting the 17-year-old Mystic Falls troublemaker to be as old as he really was when the cameras stopped rolling.

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Pinterest via Tara Aeschliman

When we first met Mystic Falls' mystery boy, actor, Paul Wesley was actually 27-years-old. In fact, by the time the series came to an end, the Hollywood star was 35 years-old. Surprising, huh? Then again, what's another decade, or two, when you're a 171-year-old vampire?

Dirty Dancing: Frances 'Baby' Houseman, 17 vs. 27-Years-Old

She might have had the time of her life while playing a 'Baby,' but off-screen, Dirty Dancing's star was actually, well, far from one. In fact, while actress, Jennifer Grey may have played a 17-year-old teenager on our screens, the dirty dancer was actually much older in real life.

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Closer Weekly via Vestron Pictures

How much older are we talking, here? About a decade. Yep, back in 1987, as we watched the teenaged girl fall for a mysterious dancing instructor, the Hollywood star was actually 27-years-old in real life. You might be feeling lied to right about now, but please, don't put Baby in the corner.

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off: Cameron Frye, 17 vs. 29-Years-Old

You were probably too busy drooling over his swanky glasshouse, to notice that Cameron's high-school days were actually already long, long, gone. Lucky for you, that's what we're here for. Folks, meet '17-year-old,' Cameron Frye, otherwise known as the adult who once played hooky.

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Pinterest via Lily Sophia

That's right, back in the day, we watched Cameron live out our childhood dreams, as he ditched class for a fun day with his best friend - only things were not as they seemed. While on-screen, the high-schooler was about 17-years-old, off-screen, actor Alan Ruck was actually... 29-years-old. We'll give you a minute to process that one.

The Wizard of Oz: Dorothy Gale, 10 vs. 16-Years-Old

We might have once followed along on her journey, as she walked that yellow-brick road, but Dorothy and her friends' adventure to Oz was even more dreamy than you might have thought. Brace yourselves, we're officially not in Kansas anymore...

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FilmPublicityArchive / United Archives via Getty Images

There might be no place like home, but there's officially no place like Hollywood, where all of the magic truly happens. Yep, you probably thought Dorothy was (about) 10-years-old, only, actress Judy Garland was yet another star who deceived us on the big screen. How old was 'Dorothy,' really? 16.

The Amazing Spider-Man: Peter Parker, 17 vs. 29-Years-Old

He might be a high-school student by day, super-hero by night, but there's a whole lot more you don't know about New York City's unstoppable crimefighter; You know, like the fact that 'Peter Parker' is actually a whole lot older than his on-screen self let on.

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Pinterest via Super Hero Lovers

Back in 2012, when The Amazing Spider-Man first hit our screens, actor Andrew Garfield was actually about a decade older than he led us to believe. While the British star played a 17-year-old high-school student, Garfield was actually about 29-years-old in real life.

Breakfast At Tiffany’s: Holly Golightly, 18 vs. 31-Years-Old

There's a whole lot more going on in Breakfast At Tiffany's than swanky ensembles and, well, trips to Tiffany's. As the story goes, Holly Golightly is an 18-year-old city girl who eventually comes to meet the love of her life. But how old was she really, when she dominated those New York City streets?

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Donaldson Collection / Michael Ochs Archives via Getty Images

Back in 1961, as actress, Audrey Hepburn began her reign as a style icon on our screens, the 'teen-aged socialite' was actually already 31-years-old. Of course, as she's proved, though, there's no age limit on elegance, and it's no wonder her legacy will live on forever.

That 70's Show: Jackie Burkhart, 15 vs. 14-Years-Old

Back in the day, we watched Jackie and Kelso, and gang, as they hung out, down the street (the same old thing, they did last week), but did you know that we almost never came to meet the outspoken, shopping-addict who eventually won the heart of Kelso?

Jackie Burkhart, Secret AgeJackie Burkhart, Secret Age
NY Daily News via Fox

Not only was the actress younger than her on-screen, 15-year-old self, but Mila Kunis actually had to lie about her age to land a spot on the hit show. How did the then-14-year-old star do it? She told casting directors that she'd be turning 18 on her birthday - but she didn't specify which one. Touché.

Pretty Little Liars: Maya St. Germain, 16 vs. 31-Years-Old

We've got a secret, but can you keep it? Back in 2010, as we were introduced to Rosewood's pretty little liars, we were also introduced to a different liar. Well, sort of. On-screen, Maya St. Germain was the 16-year-old new girl who obviously had a lot she wasn't sharing; Only the same applied behind-the-scenes...

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Insider via Freeform

The reality? The face behind Pretty Little Liars' infamous 'villain' was actually hiding secrets of her own; You know, like the fact that she wasn't actually a high-school student. Off-screen, Bianca Lawson was actually 31-years-old when the series first hit our screens.

Twilight: Edward Cullen, 17 vs. 22-Years-Old

It feels like just yesterday we watched Edward and Bella's saga play out on our screens (for the 2nd, 3rd, 4th time?). Obviously, a lot has changed since then; You know, like Edward Cullen's age - off-screen, of course. So, how old was the 104-year-old vampire when the cameras weren't rolling?

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Franco S. Origlia via Getty Images

While his on-screen role had him placed as an immortal, '17-year-old,' Robert Pattinson was actually 22-years-old when the first film first debuted. Of course, the actor did a great job convincing us otherwise, considering the global success of the franchise. What's his secret? Maybe it's that, um, unconventional diet of his.

Game of Thrones: Daenerys Targaryen, 17 vs. 25-Years-Old

Brace yourselves, because it appears that fire-breathing dragons and (we lost count at this point) endless, sudden deaths aren't the most shocking part about this hit-series. Yep, our next famous face is none other than Daenerys Targaryen, who, off-screen, looks a whole lot different than you expected.


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Mirror / Helen Sloan via HBO

While no official age was declared for the mother of the dragons, it's alleged that in season 1, Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, was about 17-years-old. Off-screen? Actress, Emilia Clarke was actually about 25-years-old. But there's a whole lot more where that came from. In fact, winter is coming, so keep on scrolling.

Glee: Finn Hudson, 16 vs. 27-Years-Old

The halls at William McKinley High have been a whole lot lonelier ever since Finn Hudson's tragic passing, back in 2013. Nonetheless, the star quarterback was, too, one of these famous faces to take on a role much younger than his off-screen self. So, how old was the late actor, off-screen?

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FOX Image Collection via Getty Images

While the Glee star's time on our screen had him as 16-year-old Finn Hudson, off-screen, actor, Cory Monteith, was actually long past his high-school days. So, how old was he exactly? 27-years-old. If you've ever wondered why none of the students on your screen ever look like the ones in your halls, well, now you know why.

She's The Man: Duke Orsino, High School Student vs. 25-Years-Old

Long before he was dancing his way through the streets, before he was (trying to) take bad-guys off of 21 Jump Street with Jonah Hill, a 2006 Channing Tatum was just getting started out in Hollywood. Perhaps that why he managed to convince us that he was young enough to be a student at Illyria Preparatory School...

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Bustle via DreamWorks Pictures

Obviously, a lot has changed since then (aside from his skills on the field, of course). So, how old was young Channing Tatum, when the actor made his big break on our screens in She's the Man? While Tatum's on-screen role had him in high-school, 'Duke's' off-screen self was actually 25-years-old.

Pitch Perfect: Fat Amy, College Student vs. 32-Years-Old

If you don't already know her name, don't worry, she'll be happy to remind you (just don't say it behind her back); In the blink of an eye, Fat Amy became a household name, as the diva reminded us that horizontal running deserves a whole lot more credit than it gets. But just because the outspoken Bella had no problem keeping it real, doesn't mean that, well, she always has.

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Collider via Universal Pictures

That's right, she might have played a Barden University acapella singer, whose one-liners once gave Chandler Bing a run for his money, but off-screen? Australian starlet, Rebel Wilson, was actually around 32-years-old when the first Pitch Perfect blessed our screens in 2012.

Lizzie McGuire: Gordo, Middle School Student vs. 17-Years-Old

We'd say this next reveal is what dreams are made of, but we never could've ever dreamed of what our favorite Lizzie McGuire underdog was up to when the cameras weren't rolling: For starters, Lizzie and Miranda's hidden brownnoser, indeed, had a hidden agenda.

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E! via Disney Channel

Well, sort of. While Gordo's on-screen role had us convinced he was in middle school, in reality, the actor was much older than he led us to believe. Yep, by the time season one came rolling around, actor Adam Lamberg's middle-school days were long gone, considering he was about 17. Are you as shocked as we are?

Friday Night Lights: Tim Riggins, High School Sophomore vs. 25-Years-Old

If by this point, you still think those brawny 'high-schoolers' you see on your screens are, well, the same age as the kids in your school halls: have we not taught you anything by now? In your defense, though, their job is to literally play the part. Just like Tim Riggins, who led you to believe he was, indeed, a sophomore at Dillon High.

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Pinterest via Tamela Sutler

The reality? While he might have once dominated the fields as a Panther off-screen, actor Taylor Kitsch, was actually about 25-years-old. We wonder if Coach Eric knows about this. Either way, the running back, and his game-changing role will forever dominate television history.

Fresh Prince of Bel-Air: Will Smith, 16 vs. 22-Years-Old

In West Philadelphia, born and raised, our next famous face spent his younger days on the playground (chillin' out, maxin', relaxin' all cool). But Will also spent his days convincing us he was actually a 16-year-old high-school kid, when his off-screen reality was, well, far from that.

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NBCUniversal via Getty Images

How old was Will when we weren't busy watching him adjust to Cali life? While the star was a teen when we first came to meet the troublemaker, Will was actually about 22-years-old, off-screen. Obviously, you don't need to ask Uncle Phil to realize just how much the star has grown since then - and we're certainly here for it.

Superbad: Seth, 18 vs. 24-Years-Old

There are a lot of things you probably don't know about the comedic gem; For one, it was based off of adventures from Seth Rogen's youth - as if we didn't already have enough reason to love the blockbuster. But perhaps more importantly, is the fact that Jonah Hill was so much older than his role, he almost never landed it in the first place.

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Metro via Columbia Pictures Industries

“He kept trying to convince us to put him in Superbad, and we were just like ‘No, you’re too old,’” Rogen told GQ about how the movie came to be. Well, lucky for us, we know how that story ended. So, how old was Hill, really? While his iconic role had him graduating high-school, in real life, the funny guy was already 24-years-old.

John Tucker Must Die: John Tucker, High School Student vs. 28-Years-Old

As he'll tell you himself, John Tucker did a whole lot more than just scoring baskets. But while the basketball legend might have dominated the halls at high-school, there was a good reason for that; You know, considering the fact that he was actually a whole lot older (and more experienced, of course) than his classmates.

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Diyah Pera via 20th Century Fox

While the notorious playboy might have made a name for himself both on and off of the courts, in real life, the actor was already pushing 30. Yep, you heard us right: Teenaged John Tucker was actually 28-year-old, Jesse Metcalfe. Good luck talking your way out of that one, John.

The O.C. : Ryan Atwood, 16 vs. 25-Years-Old

It's official, Ryan Atwood wasn't kidding when he said he was whoever you wanted him to be; Back in '03, Newport Beach would never be the same, as the troubled teen landed his way into the Cohen household. But while you might've thought you were watching the teen grow up before your eyes, well, you actually weren't...

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Warner Bros / Courtesy Everett Collection via Getty Images

You know, considering the fact that 16-year-old Ryan was actually already all-grown-up: While Ben McKenzie might have convinced you otherwise, the Hollywood actor was actually around 25-years-old by the time The O.C. first hit our screens. Hey, Sandy Cohen, did you hear that?

Outer Banks: John B, 16 vs. 28-Years-Old

We know, he's had one heck of a ride. Perhaps that's why it's a miracle John B looks the way that he does. From getting locked behind bars to sunken shipwrecks, you'd think the Pogues' ring-leader wouldn't look so, well, youthful. In fact, from the looks of it, the Outer Banks star hasn't aged one bit.

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Instagram via @obx

Well, prepare to be amazed. No, we haven't found the coordinates to that sunken Royal Merchant, but this next fun-fact will officially have you doing a double-take come Season 2: On-screen, John B might look like your typical 16-year-old teen, but off-screen? Actor, Chase Stokes is actually 28. Take a minute to digest that one.

Riverdale: Jughead Jones, 18 vs. 28-Years-Old

If you're like us, it feels like just yesterday we caught the trouble-making twin living a suite life at the Tipton. Of course, a lot has changed since then - including the Disney star's roles. Today? Cole Sprouse's latest gig has him swapping hotel lobbies for high-school halls, and we've suddenly never felt older.

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Express via The CW

The Riverdale star might play 18-year-old Jughead Jones on our screens, but in real life, the star is actually older - a whole lot older: As of this past August, the Sprouse brother is... 28-years-old. Yes, you read that right. Regardless of how much time passes, though, he'll always be the same mischievous little blonde we grew up with.

Clueless: Dionne Davenport, 17 vs. 28-Years-Old

Go ahead and cue Rollin' With the Homies, because we're about to take you back to the '90s with this next shocking reveal. Back in '95, we watched Cher Horowitz and her sidekick, Dionne Davenport, dominate the Bronson Alcott High halls. But what was really going on when the cameras stopped rolling?

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Variety via Paramount Pictures

Off-screen, actress, Stacey Dash, a.k.a Dionne, was actually 28-years-old. Which means we're suddenly only a little bit jealous. For one, how does an almost-30-year-old manage to pass for a high-school student? But more importantly, we're still waiting for the keys to that famous wardrobe. *Ahem.*

Mean Girls: Regina George, 16 vs. 26-Years-Old

She might dominate the halls at North Shore High, but we might have just found you some leverage on the Plastics' queen bee. You see, Regina George might be a force to be reckoned with, but, believe it or not, she doesn't even go here! That's right, off-screen the Mean Girls star's high-school days are actually long gone.

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Pinterest via hsin-hua

You see, on-screen, the 16-year-old teenager from hell may have done a great job looking the part (it must have been that all-carb diet); But off-screen? Actress, Rachel McAdams was actually 26-years-old. Hear that, Cady? Feel free to add that to the Burn Book.

Back to the Future: Marty McFly, 17 vs. 24-Years-Old

Marty McFly might have been a bit confused when he said he was going back to the future. You see, the actor made a name for himself playing a 17-year-old high-school student... but when the cameras weren't rolling, the actor was actually much older than his on-screen role.

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Universal via Getty Images

Yep, Hollywood actor, Michael J. Fox was actually 24-years-old when he first started playing the infamous time-traveler we know and love. We wonder if Dr. Emmett "Doc" Brown has anything to do with this. Either way, consider us impressed. I mean, it's no wonder the 80's adventure has gone on to cement itself as a cult classic.