9 of the oldest actors to play high school kids

From Rachel McAdams to Tobey Maguire, these actors were well past the days of doing homework between takes

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Spidey may have amazing climbing and web-slinging skills, but Maguire has Wolverine’s power of eternal youth. The actor was 26 when he played 17-year-old hero Peter Parker. Luckily the character graduated before the second movie, meaning that Maguire didn’t have to play a high schooler into his 30s.

For Rachel McAdams, high school cliques were a distant memory by the time she played chief plastic Regina George. At 27, the actress was a full 11 years older than her 16-year-old character, and well past the dramas of Spring Flings and burn books. 

Aged 30, Felicity Jones was playing Jane Hawking across her three decades of marriage to scientist Stephen Hawking. It was a role which won her an Oscar nomination, but in the same year she was portraying an 18-year-old foreign exchange student in romantic drama Breathe In – and winning critical acclaim for her efforts. Talk about versatile. 

Ruck memorably played Cameron Frye, Ferris’s best friend and sidekick in the 1986 film. But perhaps more scandalous than Ferris skipping classes was the fact that Ruck was still having to act like he was attending high school aged 30.

Thomas played promising young dancer Derek in this love story set in Chicago. But more impressive than Derek’s dance moves was the fact that Sean Patrick Thomas could pull off ‘young’ at the age of 30.

Gabrielle Carteris, 32, was a full 14 years older than her 18-year-old character in 90210. Still, at least she wasn’t the only one on set in their thirties. Trevor Donovan was also 31 when he played the show’s 17-year-old tennis star Teddy Montgomery.

The cast of Grease weren’t spending their evenings doing homework when they played a bunch of singing high schoolers. John Travolta was 23, Olivia Newton-John was 28 but Stockard Channing takes the prize here. She was playing 18-year-old Rizzo at age 34 – and in real life was already onto her third marriage.

Although only 29 when he started playing The Fonz, the show’s success meant Winkler was left portraying a high-school kid for another decade, until he was just one year off the big 4-0. 

But the winner is…

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Set during 20th century Poland, the plot of Yentl revolves around a teenage girl who pretends to be a boy to go to a Jewish school. Barbra Streisand directed the film and also cast herself in the lead role, playing a high school student at the age of 41!