When I was in high school, I always wondered why the characters in my favourite teen shows and movies looked so much older than me. Emma Stone wasn't awkward or self-conscious in Easy A. Naya Rivera had mastered her eyeliner application in Glee. 10 Things I Hate About You's Heath Ledger had a deeper voice than any teen boy I knew. It's as though they skipped that whole nightmarish stage between child and adult and came out the other side mature, confident, and able to grow a full beard. Turns out, there was a reason they had that seasoned je ne sais quoi about them: They were definitely not teenagers!
It was only when I got older that I realised most of pop culture's beloved high school youths were actually full-fledged adults. James Van Der Beek famously shaved twice a day on the set of Dawson's Creek, lest a five o'clock shadow give his secret away. And Stockard Channing was in her 30s when she played Rizzo in Grease. Of course, in very rare cases, there were actual teen actors playing high school students, but those casting choices were few and far in between.
So, was Drake really going through his awkward teenage stage when he played Jimmy on the classic high school show Degrassi: The Next Generation? How old was Mila Kunis really when she played Jackie on That 70s Show? See who actually played their age and who was forced to channel their former teen self in these classic films and series.