10 TV Actors Who Played Characters Way Younger Than Their Real Age (PHOTOS)

Laura Anastasia | Aug 13, 2015 TV

We've all been there. The lead character on your favorite show is hot, hot, hot -- and also a teenager. Don't go calling yourself a cougar just yet. Some of the small screen's steamiest stars are actually much older than they appear. We're talking a full decade-plus in some cases. 


These fresh-faced actors are actually well beyond legal. So go ahead, enjoy the eye candy and ditch the guilt. The heat is on! 


Image © Moshe Brahka/ABC 

  • Chad Michael Murray Played a 15-Year-Old


    Image via Warner Bros. 

    Murray turned on the charm as good kid Lucas Scott on One Tree Hill. Scott was a high school sophomore in the longtime show's first season. 

  • When He Was 22 in Real Life


    Image © Frank Trapper/Corbis

    The model/actor turned the clock back -- way back -- every time he stepped on set. Murray was actually 22 when he started playing the high school basketball star on One Tree Hill. During the show's run, he married co-star Sophia Bush, divorced her, then became engaged to an extra on the set. They eventually broke things off and he went on to date several other co-stars before finally marrying his wife, Sara Roehmer, in 2015. They have one child together. 

  • James Van Der Beek Played a 15-Year-Old


    Image © The WB

    Dawson Leery's longwinded musings on movies and life may have sounded mature, but Van Der Beek's character on Dawson's Creek was just 15.

  • When He Was 21 in Real Life


    Image © Walter McBride/Corbis

    Van Der Beek could buy alcohol in real life before his onscreen alter ego could even drive. The actor was 21 when Dawson's Creek first aired. 

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  • Jesse Metcalfe Played a High School Virgin


    Image © Moshe Brahka/ABC 

    Boy toy! Metcalfe steamed up Desperate Housewives as underage gardener John Rowland. The onscreen high school virgin had a sexy fling with Eva Longoria's character.

  • When He Was 26 in Real Life


    Image © Axel Koester/Corbis

    Don't feel guilty for drooling. Metcalfe was actually 26 when he first appeared as the hunky teen. He turned 31 by the time his run on Desperate Housewives was finished, but not before entering rehab for alcoholism. He also famously fell 30 feet to the ground from a balcony during an after-party for the 2009 World Music Awards, which he hosted. 

  • Luke Perry Played A Teenage Bad Boy


    Image © Mikel Roberts/Sygma/Corbis

    Perry struck it big as tough guy/heartthrob Dylan McKay on Beverly Hills, 90210 in the 1990s. The teen loner won ladies both on and off-screen.

  • When He Was 24 in Real Life


    Image © Frank Trapper/Sygma/Corbis

    Dylan was in high school, but Perry was already 24 when he took on the teen dream role. The actor was born back in 1966, before video games or VCRs were invented. He was married and had his first child while 90210 was still on the air. 

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  • Henry Winkler Played a High Schooler


    Image © Corbis

    Arthur "Fonzie" Fonzarelli was a recent high school dropout in Happy Days' first season. Winkler turned the bit part into an American icon.

  • When He Was 29 in Real Life


    Image © Bettmann/Corbis

    Winkler made playing the cool greaser look easy, even though the Yale School of Drama alum was 29, a full decade older than Fonzie. He got married and had two kids before Happy Days finished it's 10-year run. 

  • Jason Earles Played a High Schooler


    Image © Disney Channel

    Oh, brother! Earles played for laughs as Miley Cyrus's onscreen brother, Jackson Stewart, on Disney Channel's Hannah Montana. The goofy character was in high school.

  • When He Was 29 in Real Life


    Image © Jen Lowery/Splash News/Corbis

    Earles may have a baby face onscreen, but he's no spring chicken off screen. The veteran TV actor and college graduate was already 29 when he started playing Cyrus's teen brother. He was still acing the role at 34 when the show ended.

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  • Paul Wesley Played a 17-Year-Old


    Image © The CW

    Stefan, Wesley's character in The Vampire Diaries, has a young body and an old soul. He's forever 17, the age at which he became a vampire, even though he was born in 1864. 

  • When He Was 27 in Real Life


    Image © Jenna Blake/Corbis

    Wesley may need the fountain of youth soon if the popular show continues to be a hit. The actor was already 27 when he started playing the forever-teen character, and it's been on TV for years! 

  • Tom Welling Played a High School Freshman


    Image © Bill Reitzel/Corbis

    Welling pulled double duty as teen Clark Kent and Superman in Smallville. Kent starts his freshman year of high school in the show's pilot.

  • When He Was 24 in Real Life


    Image © Frank Trapper/Corbis

    It's a bird, it's a plane, it's a ... twenty-something? The fresh-faced Welling was actually a full decade older than his onscreen counterpart. The actor was 24 when he first shot to fame as the young hero. A year after the show debuted, he married a model but filed for divorce in 2013. 

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  • Trevor Donovan Played a 16-Year-Old


    Image © The CW

    Donovan showed up in the second season of the '90s reboot, 90210, as Teddy Montgomery. The athetic tennis player was 16.

  • When He Was Turning 31 in Real Life


    Image © Frank Trapper/Corbis

    Donovan was nearly double his character's age. The dreamy actor was one month shy of his 31st birthday when he debuted as teen Montgomery. 

  • Calum Worthy Played a Teenager


    Image via Craig Sjodin/Disney Channel

    Worthy's character on Disney's Austin & Ally wasn't even old enough to drive. The wacky sidekick's immaturity racked up the laughs.

  • When He Was 20 in Real Life


    Image © Paul A. Hebert/Press Line Photos/Corbis

    The Canadian acting vet was already 20 years old when Austin & Ally debuted. When the final season wrapped, then 25-year-old Worthy was still easily passing for his teen alter ego.

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