How Old Were The Actors In Your Favourite Teen Movies?

Rarely in their teens, that's how old. Ages based on those on the date of the film's original release.

Following the release of Gilmore Girls: A Year In The Life on Friday, nostalgia levels have been running high among millennials. Though reviews of the revival series have been mixed, and professional nice guy Paul has been unfairly slated, the familiar safety blanket of Stars Hollow has been a fuzzy antidote to the awkward stateside Thanksgiving dinners. Because what we like as a teen stays with us forever, even if said thing was, in retrospect, quite shit.

Perhaps this explains the continued love of all teen movies, with their predictable and sketchy scripts, poor characterisation, and career launching potential. (With the exception of Mean Girls, which stays relevant by being the best movie ever). Teen movies were aspirational. Whilst you settled for an awkward snog during a game of spin the bottle in a dimly lit park, the teens in these movies were only a few years older but light years ahead in personal experience. They had homecomings and raging house parties and sexy convertibles. How were they all so acne-free, perfectly coiffed, and socially functional?

But the key to great adolescent skin is actually quite simple. Just wait until you’re an adult, like all the actors in these teen movies. There are basically no ‘teen actors’ younger than 17. Olivia Newton-John was 29 when Grease was released. Which makes it even more astonishing that it took her so long to burn the poodle skirt.

Empire Records, 1995

Empire Records brought us one of the coolest teen(ish) casts of the ’90s, with a totally rad soundtrack to boot. Liv Tyler was 18 when she starred in her breakout movie, Rory Cochrane, playing Lucas, was 23, along with Robin Tunney. Johnny Whitworth played the brooding A.J, aged 19. Ethan Embry was the baby of the cast, at 17 years old, whilst Renée Zellweger was the eldest ‘teen’ at 26.

10 Things I Hate About You, 1999

At the height of Julia Stiles’s teen stardom she played moody lead Kat in ’10 Things I Hate About You’, a modern adaptation of Shakespeare’s ‘The Taming Of The Shrew’. She was 18. Her co-star, the late Heath Ledger, was 20.

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, 1987

John Hughes’ love letter to Chicago starred 24-year-old Matthew Broderick as the slacker lead, 29-year-old Alan Ruck as Cameron Frye, and an 18-year-old Mia Sara as Sloane Peterson.


The Breakfast Club, 1985

This ’80s classic about a bunch of misfits working out their differences in detention was an early high school movie. Judd Nelson, who played the rebellious John, was 25. Ally Sheedy (Allison) and Emilio Estevez (Andrew) were both 23. At just 17, Molly Ringwald (Claire), and Anthony Michael Hall (Brian) were the youngest members of the central cast.

Mean Girls, 2004

The Plastics are teen royalty. If North Shore was US Weekly they’d always be on the cover. So fetch! Before she began ranting about Brexit on Twitter, 17-year-old Lindsay Lohan played Cady Heron, a home-schooled redhead from *Africa*. Karen Smith, one of the dumbest girls you will ever meet, was played by an 18-year-old Amanda Seyfried. Lacey Chabert played the ‘totally rich’ daughter of the inventor of toaster strudel, Gretchen Wieners, aged 21. Regina George, who I hear does car commercials in Japan, was played by 25-year-old Rachel McAdams.

Dazed and Confused, 1993

Jason London, who played the rebellious football player Randall ‘Pink’ Floyd, was 20 when ‘Dazed and Confused’ was released. His co-stars Sasha Jenson and Rory Cochrane were 28 and 21 respectively.

Clueless, 1995

This teen-movie revamp of Austen’s classic, ‘Emma’, saw Alicia Silverstone play spoiled high schooler Cher aged 19. Her on-screen best friend Dionne was played by 28-year-old Stacey Dash. Brittany Murphy was only 17 when she played naive redhead Tai Frasier.


Superbad, 2007

That one with McLovin. Jonah Hill and Michael Cera played a pair of desperate teenagers in search of illicit booze. We all laughed for 90 whole minutes. Neither of the actors were still high school age, however. Cera was 19 and the ever baby-faced Jonah Hill was 23.

Wild Child, 2008

#OnlyBritish00sTeensWillRemember. ‘Wild Child’ came from the same golden era of post-‘Mean Girls’ teen drama as ‘Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging’, and gave us such great, meaningless catch-phrases as ‘Who are we?’, ‘Hot to trot’ and ‘bazumas’. 17-year-old Emma Roberts was the only actress in the main cast still high-school aged. Kimberley Nixon (who also, you might remember, played ‘Slaggy Lindsey’ in ‘Angus…’) was 22, Juno ‘Drippy’ Temple was 19, Sophie Wu (Kiki) was 21 and Linzey Cocker (Josie) was 25.

American Pie, 1999

It’s as wholesome as warm, apple pie: The tale of a group of high school buddies and their pact to lose their virginities before their graduation. Jason Biggs (Jim, the one who put his dick in the pie) had already started, dropped out and retuned to university by the time ‘American Pie’ came out when he was 21. Chris Klein (Oz) was 20, and Thomas Ian Nicholas (Kevin) was 19. (Not pictured: Eddie Kaye Thomas (Finch) was 18, and Seann William Scott (Stifler) was 22).

Grease, 1978

One of the earliest teen movies, ‘Grease’ is the ultimate high school drama. It also had a comparatively old cast. John Travolta was 24 when he played Danny. Olivia Newton John was five years his senior as Sandy. Pink Ladies leader, Rizzo, was played by a 33-year-old Stockard Channing and Jeff Conaway (T-bird head honcho Kenickie) was 28.