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The actors who were DECADES older than their characters

Olivia Newton-John, who turned 73 on Monday, reportedly worried she was “too old” to play the role of high school student Sandy Olsson in the 1983 film musical Grease.

But the actress, who was 29 when she was cast as the fresh-faced teen, is far from the only star to have played a much younger character on screen.

Her Grease Stockard Channing co-star was 34 when she played Rizzo, fellow Pink Lady and Sandy.

The actors who were DECADES older than their characters

Olivia Newton-John, who turned 73 on Monday, reportedly worried she was “too old” to play the role of high school student Sandy Olsson in the 1983 movie musical Grease. But the actress, who was 29 when she was cast is far from the only star to have played a much younger character

Barbara Streisand was in her 40s when she was cast as the 19-year-old titular character in the 1983 film Yentl, while British actress Shirley Henderson was in her late thirties when she first appeared as 14-year-old ghost school girl Moaning Myrtle in the Harry Potter series.

Some turns are more successful than others. Viewers were amazed to learn that Irish actress Nicola Coughlan, who plays a teenager in both Bridgerton and Derry Girls, is in her thirties.

But The Vampire Diaries star Ian Somerhalder, who was 31 when the series began, never quite passed a 17-year-old.

Here, FEMAIL reveals the other actors who have played much younger characters with varying degrees of success…

Stockard Channing in Grease (1978)

Age: 34, playing 17-year-old Pink Lady Rizzo

Stockard Channing as Rizzo

Stockard Channing as Rizzo

Stockard Channing in 2017

Stockard Channing in 2017

Grease star Olivia Newton-John worried she’d be too “old” to play high school student Sandy, but she wasn’t the only one playing younger. Stockard Channing (right in 2017) was 34 when she played 17-year-old Rizzo (left in character), the queen of the Pink Ladies

Shirley Henderson in Harry Potter

Age: The actress was 36 when she first met the ghost school girl Moaning Myrtle, 14. played

The Harry Potter film series was packed with childhood talent — but not every Hogwarts student was played by a young star.  Actress Shirley Henderson, also known for Bridget Jones, was 36 when she first played the 14-year-old ghost Moaning Myrtle.

The Harry Potter film series was packed with childhood talent — but not every Hogwarts student was played by a young star.  Actress Shirley Henderson, also known for Bridget Jones, was 36 when she first played the 14-year-old ghost Moaning Myrtle.

The actress at a premiere in 2019

The actress at a premiere in 2019

The Harry Potter film series was packed with childhood talent — but not every Hogwarts student was played by a young star. Actress Shirley Henderson, also known for Bridget Jones, was 36 when she first played the 14-year-old ghost Moaning Myrtle in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. By the time she filmed Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Henderson was 40

Emma Thompson in Feeling and Sensitivity (1995)

Age: Dame Emma, ​​then 35, was cast as 19-year-old Elinor Dashwood

Acting great Dame Emma Thompson made her name in a series of historical dramas, including Sense and Sensibility.  The actress was 35 when she was cast as 19-year-old Elinor Dashwood

Acting great Dame Emma Thompson made her name in a series of historical dramas, including Sense and Sensibility.  The actress was 35 when she was cast as 19-year-old Elinor Dashwood

Dame Emma Thompson in June

Dame Emma Thompson in June

Acting great Dame Emma Thompson (June right) made her name in a string of historical dramas, including Sense and Sensibility (left). The actress was 35 when she was cast as 19-year-old Elinor Dashwood

Nicola Coughlan in Bridgerton and Derry Girls

Age: Nicola was 33 when she first played Penelope Featherington in Bridgerton. She also appears as a teenage schoolgirl in Derry Girls

Like Penelope Featherington in Bridgerton

Like Penelope Featherington in Bridgerton

Fresh Irish actress Nicola Coughlan, 35, has played teens in two high profile TV roles: Schoolgirl Clare in Derry Girls

Fresh Irish actress Nicola Coughlan, 35, has played teens in two high profile TV roles: Schoolgirl Clare in Derry Girls

Fresh Irish actress Nicola Coughlan, 35, played teens in two high-profile TV roles: schoolgirl Clare in Derry Girls (right) and Penelope Featherington in Bridgerton (left). She was 33 when she first played Penelope, then 17, while Clare was even younger

Ian Somerhalder in The Vampire Diaries

Age: The actor played vampire Damon Salvatore, 17, aged 31-38

Heartthrob Ian Ian Somerhalder was 31 when he first appeared on screen as 17-year-old vampire Damon Salvatore in The Vampire Diaries.  The supernatural character never got older, but Somerhalder did: The actor was 38 years old when the TV series ended

Heartthrob Ian Ian Somerhalder was 31 when he first appeared on screen as 17-year-old vampire Damon Salvatore in The Vampire Diaries.  The supernatural character never got older, but Somerhalder did: The actor was 38 years old when the TV series ended

The actor in 2020

The actor in 2020

Teen Ian Ian Somerhalder’s heartthrob was 31 when he first appeared on screen as 17-year-old vampire Damon Salvatore (left) in The Vampire Diaries. The supernatural character has never aged, but Somerhalder has: the actor (just in 2020) was 38 when the TV series ended

Stacey Dash in Clueless (1995)

Age: 28 when she was cast as Dionne Davenport, 17

Stacey Dash was a 28-year-old mother of one when she was cast as 17-year-old Dionne Davenport in the teen classic Clueless opposite Alicia Silverstone, who was just 18.

Stacey Dash was a 28-year-old mother of one when she was cast as 17-year-old Dionne Davenport in the teen classic Clueless opposite Alicia Silverstone, who was just 18.

Actress Stacey Dash recently

Actress Stacey Dash recently

Stacey Dash was a 28-year-old mother of one when she was cast as 17-year-old Dionne Davenport in the teen classic Clueless opposite Alicia Silverstone, who was just 18.

Wood Harris in Remember the Titans (2000)

Age: Harris was 31 and played 18-year-old high school student Julius Campbell

Actor Wood Harris played the real-life football player Julius Campbell in Remember the Titans.  Julius was in high school preparing for the state championships, while the actor 31 .  used to be

Actor Wood Harris played the real-life football player Julius Campbell in Remember the Titans.  Julius was in high school preparing for the state championships, while the actor 31 .  used to be

Actor Wood Harris played the real-life football player Julius Campbell in Remember the Titans. Julius was in high school preparing for the state championships, while the actor 31 . used to be

Henry Winkler in Happy Days

Age: Winkler was 29 when he first teened The Fonz. played

When Happy Days first premiered in 1974, Fonzie, or The Fonz, was a minor character, but quickly became the star of the show after proving to be a hit with viewers.  Fans are divided on how old the character is at the start of the series, putting him somewhere between 18 and early 20s.  In any case, he was much younger than actor Henry Winkler, who was 29 when he was cast

When Happy Days first premiered in 1974, Fonzie, or The Fonz, was a minor character, but quickly became the star of the show after proving to be a hit with viewers.  Fans are divided on how old the character is at the start of the series, putting him somewhere between 18 and early 20s.  In any case, he was much younger than actor Henry Winkler, who was 29 when he was cast

Winkler in 2009

Winkler in 2009

When Happy Days first premiered in 1974, Fonzie, or The Fonz, was a minor character, but quickly became the star of the show after proving to be a hit with viewers. Fans are divided on how old the character is at the start of the series, putting him somewhere between 18 and early 20s. In any case, he was much younger than actor Henry Winkler, who was 29 when he was cast

Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961)

Age: Hepburn was 32 when she played 19-year-old Holly Golightly

Truman Capote's creation of Holly Golightly is depicted as an 18 or 19-year-old girl.  She was portrayed in the classic 1961 film adaptation by Audrey Hepburn, who was 31 at the time

Truman Capote's creation of Holly Golightly is depicted as an 18 or 19-year-old girl.  She was portrayed in the classic 1961 film adaptation by Audrey Hepburn, who was 31 at the time

Audrey Hepburn at breakfast at Tiffany's

Audrey Hepburn at breakfast at Tiffany's

Truman Capote’s creation of Holly Golightly is depicted as an 18 or 19-year-old girl. She was portrayed in the classic 1961 film adaptation by Audrey Hepburn, who was 31 at the time

Cory Monteith in Glee

Age: The late actor was 27 when he was cast as Finn, 16

The late Canadian actor Cory Monteith, who died in 2013, was 27 when he was cast as the 16-year-old Finn in the high school musical series Glee — just a little younger than Matthew Morrison, who played glee club director William Schuester.  His co-star Lea Michele was 22 in series one

The late Canadian actor Cory Monteith, who died in 2013, was 27 when he was cast as the 16-year-old Finn in the high school musical series Glee — just a little younger than Matthew Morrison, who played glee club director William Schuester.  His co-star Lea Michele was 22 in series one

Cory Monteith on Glee

Cory Monteith on Glee

The late Canadian actor Cory Monteith, who died in 2013, was 27 when he was cast as the 16-year-old Finn in the high school musical series Glee — just a little younger than Matthew Morrison, who played glee club director William Schuester. His co-star Lea Michele was 22 in series one

Barbara Streisand in Yentl (1983)

Age: Barbara was 44, played titular character Yentl Mendel, 19

Despite her youthful on-screen appearance as Yentl Mendel, Barbara Streisand was much older than her 19-year-old character.  The megastar was 44 when she was cast in the 1983 film

Despite her youthful on-screen appearance as Yentl Mendel, Barbara Streisand was much older than her 19-year-old character.  The megastar was 44 when she was cast in the 1983 film

Barbara Streisand in 2015

Barbara Streisand in 2015

Despite her youthful on-screen appearance as Yentl Mendel, Barbara Streisand was much older than her 19-year-old character. The megastar was 44 when she was cast in the 1983 film

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