Why Can’t a Teenager Be Played By a Real Teen?
By Michael Russnow
hollywoodnews.com: A recent ‘Los Angeles Times’ article recounted the fact that coming out on TV has been portrayed in the lives of even younger characters than before. While this is true and in fact notable, wouldn’t it be even better if the performances were by actors much closer in age to their actual roles?
This is a common trait on series which feature younger people in lead or major supporting roles, regardless of the subject matter. Whether it be ‘Gossip Girl,’ ‘The Vampire Diaries,’ ‘One Tree Hill,’ ‘90210’ or earlier series such as Dawson’s Creek the actors playing kids in high school are often in their mid-twenties and sometimes in their thirties.
For example, one of the actors mentioned in the Times piece, Trevor Donovan, who plays high school senior Teddy on The CW’s 90210 is 32 and was introduced as a 16-year-old when he was already 30. Unlike Leonardo DiCaprio, whose boyish looks permitted him to credibly play a kid at 27 in Catch Me If You Can, Donovan’s much more mature handsome, almost Robert Redford look makes him appear no younger than a college senior in his best angle and usually more fit to be a surgical resident on ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy.
Similarly, Matt Lanter, who plays Liam on the same show was 25 when he was introduced a couple of seasons ago. He was working as a bartender and seemed perfectly credible in that role until he was unmasked soon after as a 16-year-old. Say what? I don’t think so. And Michael Steger, who plays Navid was 28 when he started three years ago.
Additionally, Tom Welling of Smallville began at 24 playing the high-school attendee Clark Kent and looked more like a college jock.
Cory Monteith, Finn on Fox’ Glee was 27 when the series started. Likewise, Mark Salling, who portrays Puck on the same show.
Does anyone really buy that Paul Wesley is the perennially 17-year-old Stefan on The Vampire Diaries? He was 27 when he began on the series and looked at best as if he were a first year law student. On One Tree Hill, Chad Michael Murray was 22 playing a sophomore in high school when he appeared much more collegiate. On Dawson’s Creek, James Van Der Beek and Joshua Jackson played fifteen at 21 and 20 respectively, and with Van Der Beek’s craggy good looks and Jackson’s deep voice they in no way conveyed the image.
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