This site will work and look better in a browser that supports web standards, but it is accessible to any browser or Internet device.

Whedonesque - a community weblog about Joss Whedon
"How's it sit? Pretty cunning, don'tchya think?"
11972 members | you are not logged in | 29 November 2020


February 26 2008

Some big actor-to-character age differences. Guess which vampire makes the list?

Interesting, although I'm surprised they picked David instead of James. I remember being floored when I found out how old he actually was. Still damn hot though... *g*
And yet the vampire with the serious age difference (James Marsters) was the one they didn't notice. I feel all nostalgic for the days when he told everyone he was 29 for about six years straight... and was actually in his forties by the time he came clean.
Maybe they didn't put Spike in because there's no canonical age for him in the show as there is with Angel. Then again didn't Angel get two ages? I'm sure in season 1 it was stated/implied he too was a teen but I may have that wrong.
Well, we never really got an excact on Angel's age (242-to-265 as I recall) and, nevermind that hellmouth thing, think its safe to say Angel was robbing the crib. 'Course, this is just a storytell, so....
Yeah, someone mentioned why Spike/James wasn't mentioned and this was the response "I may have added James Marsters to the list if I had his character's birth date and sire date handy."

Someone needs to inform the writer that the siring date is known. William was turned 1880. *shrug* I am one of the many who were gaping at their computer screen for two or three minutes (and there are still new ones popping up every day - anyone ever told Whoopie? *snicker* Need to find me that Hollywood Squares clip) ... ah, memories.
I don't think the siring date helps as we don't know what age William was in 1880. The 'complaint' isn't that DB or JM for that matter didn't look like they were hundreds of years old.

The surprise I had from the list was realising that Radar in MASH was supposed to be 18.
Madhatter said
"Well, we never really got an excact on Angel's age (242-to-265 as I recall)"

Might have come up again at some other point, but I'm sure there's an episode in season 2 when Angel comes downstairs tired, and Cordelia suggests he could be going through another growth spurt at 2xx before Angel corrects her to his real age (3 or 4 years younger than what she said).

Think the biggest gap between actor and character would have to be between Doctor Who's Doctor, and any of the actors that have played him, David Tennant's Doctor is currently at least 903 (there's a bit of an argument that he was lying in "Voyage of the Damned" and is a few centuries into quadruple didgets).

[ edited by Ghost Spike on 2008-02-26 23:55 ]
Just about everyone on BtVS was older than the character he or she played, possible exceptions being MT & ASH.

I mean, wasn't Charimsa Carpenter about twelve years older than Cordelia Chase was supposed to be?

[ edited by Jim in Buffalo on 2008-02-27 00:04 ]
I think Harmony and Dawn were the only ones playing very close to or at their actual age.

Nick was 26 when the show started, and he was playing (then) a 15 or 16 year old.
I remember when JM was claiming to be in his mid-20s, finding a newspaper review online of a play he did in the late 80's and thinking "Wait a minute..." I often wondering if he was lying to everyone (his girlfriend at the time was very young, I think) or just covering up his age to his fans. He certainly managed to pull it off for a while (naked Spike, yum yum..), but he was looking a little rough around the edges towards the end of "Angel."
"I think Harmony and Dawn were the only ones playing very close to or at their actual age."

I think Eliza Dushku as Faith could be added to that list (though I don't think we know Faith's date of birth).

My favourite actor-to-character age difference is Shirley Henderson's in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets when she at 37 played a mid-teen.
Didn't SMG play a much older character on a soap? I remember thinking it was unusual for a young actress to play older.

Then, for us old timers, there's North By Northwest with an actress playing Cary Grants mother despite being only seven years older than him.
"Then, for us old timers, there's North By Northwest with an actress playing Cary Grants mother despite being only seven years older than him."

and The Manchurian Candidate with Angela Lansbury only two years older than Laurence Harvey (it must be said that AL looked the same age for about fifty years).
Or 34yo Lena Headey playing the mother of 20yo Thomas Dekker, while 26yo Summer Glau pretends to be his sister, while both are in high school.
Charisma was closer to ten years older than Cordelia, a possible, possible contributing reason to her being on the spin-off. Michelle is about a year older than Dawn; I've always assumed Faith was a year older than the gang so ELiza was "playing up."

Hell, it wasn't a TV show but there's the entire danged cast of Carnal Knowledge. I'd love to s ee a remake with Mercedes playing Bobbie, mainly to see her in soem of the same shots as Ann-Margret.
While Marsters was clearly much older than his "turned" age (somewhat implicit in the show), he actually didn't show nearly as much aging across the series as did Boreanaz - who showed it in both face and body if you compare S1 BtVS vs S5 Angel - huge difference (as the author of this piece notes)
I think James only started to really age around the time of Buffy season 7, maybe Angel season 5. David aged pretty clearly to me after season one of Buffy, but part of that had to do with him bulking up. And I don't think anyone can fault him for showing his age during the last season of Angel. Major surgery tends to do that to oneself.
Oh, wow, I didn't know the actress who played Lane on Gilmore Girls was 11 years older than her character! Never would have guessed.

Well, speaking of... of course, Anne Bancroft was only 6 years older than Dustin Hoffman when she was supposed to be a much older woman seducing him in The Graduate.

[ edited by fortunateizzi on 2008-02-27 02:55 ]
Angel was supposed to be 244 years old at the beginning of Ats and 27 when he was turned (according to the unaired promo they put together for the WB to sell the show). He looks young for 27 in the scene when Darla turns him. Seeing the vamps backstory (that youtube thing that was posted a while back) in order really makes the difference apparent between David's early and later years.
Major surgery tends to do that to oneself.

I just heard that about The Graduate. Pretty weird.
I for one was in my thirties when I started perving on Spike and was incredibly relieved to find out James wasn't in his early twenties like I thought.
I felt a lot less smarmy.

Did I hear that it was actually the WB's idea for him to lie about his age? I seem to recall something like that.
On BTVS, Charisma Carpenter never looked like a teenager. She always looked like what she was: a beautiful grown woman in her mid to late twenties.
Xane said:

Did I hear that it was actually the WB's idea for him to lie about his age? I seem to recall something like that.

I had heard that, too! But I have no idea if it's true or not.
I'm surprised that John Hensley (Matt on Nip/Tuck) wasn't on this list. He actually dated Joely Richardson, who plays his mother on the show.
Hmmm, what that article doesn't say is that David was 28 when Buffy premiered (born 1969) so he was 35/36 at the apex of playing Angel. And I don't think he aged so badly, though of course, he was a lot more dewy when Buffy began.
Well, speaking of... of course, Anne Bancroft was only 6 years older than Dustin Hoffman when she was supposed to be a much older woman seducing him in The Graduate.
Similar to the scene where Jenny Calendar tries to seduce Xander and he's all creeped out, despite the fact that in real live they're the same age.

And Cordy moving from BtVS to Ats too the opportunity to add at least five years, while the scooby gang were struggling with college Cordy was suddenly a grown up.
The weird thing about David is that he looks much younger on Bones than he did on Angel. Maybe sunlight agrees with him.
Major surgery tends to do that to oneself.


David had some kind of reconstructive knee surgery in the middle of S5, after having injured the knee at least as early as early S4 (Joss and Alexis mention it in the "Spin the Bottle" DVD commentary). I believe this is why characters other than Angel had the majority of the action scenes in the middle eps of S5, like "Harm's Way", "Soul Purpose", and "Damage."
Thank you jlp, I've listened to most of the commentaries, but must have spaced out for that one...damn me and my multitasking!
I've always noticed that they gave up pretty much any pretense to Cordelia being the same age as the Scooby Gang once she showed up on Angel. I might be wrong, but I think once she was away from her former peers, I don't think they ever really mentioned her age again. There were definitely a few times when I suddenly thought to myself, "Oh wait, she's supposed to be Buffy's age." She definitely got a big boost in emotional maturity during the transition.
I think they may have metioned her once or twice in S4, but I agree about the maturity boost. I also think the storyline of going from spoiled princess to poor and starving(S1:1) is the way they were able to justify how quickly she seemed to grow-up. I think it was beautiful the way her character played out and would've hated to have seen her go through the awkward first year of college that the Scooby Gang went through.
SMG was, what, 19 when she was cast as Buffy? So not much age difference there. And on All My Children, she was a 16 year-old playing a 23 year-old Kendall, zz9.

I agree that Cordy's maturation was handled pretty convincingly - and fittingly in a town (L.A.) where many are in complete denial about their own age and the ageing process in general.
Wow zz9, I totally had not realized that Robia was less than a year older than Nicky! Not that she looks old, but I really thought she was a little older than she is. The power of perception is quite amazing sometimes.
From recent pictures DB has lost the weight he gained when injured. Would be reasonable to assume this weight gain was a result of a decrease in physical activity.
DB has said in interview that he hated not being able to work-out before/just after his knee surgery so that would explain the weight gain. On 'Bones' he's a bit bulkier than Angel in BtVS S1 but not to any extent that can't be explained by the simple passage of time (as Fraser's dad [roughly] says in "Due South", "at a certain point in his life a man's hips spread, and there's nothing he can do about it" ;).

Gary Burghoff was fine as 18 for about the first 5 or 6 years of the Korean war, by the time it hit 8 or 9 it was becoming a stretch (notice how he almost never takes his cap off in later seasons, presumably because Burghoff was going a bit thin on top ;).

The Doctor has to take the biscuit though (even if he's shaving off a hundred or so years for vanity's sake ;) and another UK actor/character that no-one else will have heard of is Clive Dunn who appeared in long running sitcom "Dad's Army" and played grandfatherly 'Cpl Jones' when he was in his mid to late 40s.
Clive Dunn was one of the younger cast members, Saje. But at least Godfrey was genuinely old - he was eighty when the show finally finished! Ian Lavender was properly young at 22 when it started, though not young enough to have escaped the draft! (And a mere 31 when it finished!)

We will now return you to our regularly scheduled Whedonfest...
Clive Dunn! That was the first actor I ever saw playing much older, I think.

Without having clicked the link yet, I was absolutely going to mention Keiko Agena, since we're just finishing up season 7 of GG from Netflix and I was stunned when earlier on I found out how old she was.

And as someone who is five days older than Marsters, can I just say... the "well-preserved" but "fraying around the edges" comments are beginning to sting! ;-)
I think everyone in the Sunnydale HS cast was credible and believable as teenage students, which is surprising, seeing as how most of them were somewhat or significantly older than their characters.

Seth was 24 when Oz first appeared, but he certainly looked like a teenager. Aly was 24, too, and she sure pulled it off well.

Nick was 26 in season 1, which still amazes me. He very persuasively portrayed a socially inept, yet gallant at heart high school student.

Alexis was in his early 30s, which seems just a tad old for Wesley when we first meet him.

Mercedes was 17 during Season 1, which sounds exactly right for Harmony.

Sarah was 20 (born in April of 1977), just a little bit old for a high school junior (which I'm guessing they all were in season 1), but not too far off.

Eliza was 19 during season 3--sounds about right. Guessing Ms. Lehane didn't finish high school and kicked around for a while till she got the call.

Michelle was 13 during season 3, which sounds, like Harmony, exactly right.

As I say, they certainly seemed, to me at least, very credible in their characters.
I was thinking about it, and it seemed to me that Nicholas Brendon was having a harder time convincingly playing Xander's age by the end of Buffy than DB had in Angel. Bless his heart, but he wasn't fooling anyone into thinking he was actually 22 when the show went off the air. No offense to him, but he's gotten a little schlubby in recent years.
It's pretty astonishing that the cast was able to play teenagers that well.
It seems to me though that the biggest factor in suddenly looking their ages in Angel and Xander's cases was simply weight gain.
David looks way better and younger in Bones than he did in Season Five of Angel. Unless he has had some cosmetic surgery I would have to attribute it to being in better shape.

Xander and Angel were both on the thin side when Buffy started, both gained quite a bit of weight. When you are already trying to fool people into thinking you are way younger something as simple as that can change everything.
I know this is all for discussion sake, but...

It cracks me up how people can suspend disbelief to enjoy a show about monsters and superhuman powers, and then nitpick the age of actors and their little physical flaws.

While finding out the truth of the actors ages was surprising at times (often pleasantly so, since I'm closer to their real age than their screen age), I accepted the Whedon reality as it was presented.

Angel lost some smooth creaminess? Oh, didn't realize.
Spike has more character in his face? I thought it was always there.
Cordy was hanging at bars at 19yrs old? Well, it is LA.

As for vamps... short of Dick Clark (for most of his career), their is no actor out there who can maintain the same physical appearance for three years in a row, much less eight.

Like I said, I realize this is all just a bit of fun talk... But cut these people some slack, yo.
To chime in on the "aging" discussion - both Nicky & Tony are on record as blaming the snack table (More specifically the Krispy Kreme doughnuts) for their weight gain.

But moving on to a different topic - I haven't checked the site yet, but do they mention the fact that the youngest cast member played the oldest Golden Girl? Estelle Getty was younger than everyone else, but played Bea Arthur's mother.

And what about Sean Connery playing Harrison Ford's father in the last Indiana Jones movie? IIRC, there's about 8 years difference there.

Love's Bitch Sometimes just a few months can alter how a person looks. I've seen some pictures of Tony where he looks his 54 years, and then one a couple months later and you'd swear it was taken during the run of "Buffy."

Of course, a lot of that has to do with the circumstances of the picture - where/when was it taken, what did he just get done doing, etc.

But it does bring up the concern of any kind of spin-off series, one-off TV movie or Big Screen venture - could we still buy them as our beloved characters? I think, if a movie were to happen, they'd have to establish that it's not immediately after the events of the last aired episode. (Same goes for a spin-off, actually.)
Re Estelle Getty; durign the show she was publicized as actually being the youngest but apparently it was actaully Reu McClanahan who ahs always looked a couple decades older than she is. depnds on what site you go to.

As It ried to post before, MErcedes would have been only 16 during the filming of S-1 but turned 17 during the run. So would have turned 19 during S-3's run. But she claimed she was only 17 when doing some of those near-nude scenes with Jamey in S-4. I've heard Michelle was 15 when playign Dawn. whow as 14, in S-5. Eliza wouldn't have turned 19 until afetr S-3 had finished its run, so if Faith was older than the gang she was "playing up." But then again-again, I've heard her grandmother objected to, among other things, Eliza's being 17 in the scenes with Nicky in "The Zeppo."

As my people say, "Yah vell."
While we're mentioning non-Whedon actors and actresses, I would add Natalie Schafer. I'm not sure how old "Lovey" Howell was supposed to be, but she was born in 1900, so she was in her 60's during her "three-hour-tour" with the other castaways. I remember seeing a documentary where the other cast were shocked after she died in 1991 to find out how old she actually was. Granted, she wasn't doing fight scenes a la Buffy or Angel, but to be that age and do that kind of film work? That was one active senior!

This thread has been closed for new comments.

You need to log in to be able to post comments.
About membership.

joss speaks back home back home back home back home back home