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Not quite Dawson Casting, but a related phenomenon particular to adapted works. Dawson Casting is when actors play roles for which they are clearly too old. Age Lift is when this happens, but the age of the character(s) in question is/are changed or glossed over for the sake of the story. For example, instead of having a 35-year-old actor trying to pass for 17, you age up the character from 17 to 27. The idea is that the discrepancy between character and actor is much smaller.

Basically a Pragmatic Adaptation to take into account factors such as child labour laws and how demanding a role may be for a younger actor. The two most common forms of this appear to be aging pre-teen characters to teenagers so twenty-somethings can feasibly play them (see the entire child/teenage cast for A Game of Thrones) and aging thirty-something parents by about a decade to counter the potential Values Dissonance relating to young parents (see the adult characters in A Game of Thrones).

Contrast Playing Gertrude, Hollywood Old and Younger Than They Look.

Examples of Age Lift include:


Anime/Manga

  • Often, dubbed, Americanized versions of Japanese anime will have characters aged up if said characters engage in violent or sexy behavior that may be considered inappropriate for their original, Japanese-given ages. Also, if a young anime character seems unrealistically precocious in some area or other, they may be aged up as well to make their accomplishments seem more believable.

Film

  • Tuck Everlasting In The book Winnie is eleven in The film she is aged up to 15 possibly to somewhat justify the Dawson Casting of the in her late teens Alexis Bidel. Also possible since there is a slight romance with one of the forever 17 year old Tuck which would have seemed weird with an 11 year old.
  • The title role in Hamlet is a role that this often happens with. Laurence Olivier was 41 when he played Hamlet in 1948, Richard Burton was 40 in 1964, Innokenti Smoktunovsky was 39 in the same year, Derek Jacobi was 42 in 1980, Kevin Kline was 43 in 1990. Mel Gibson (34 in 1990) and Kenneth Branagh (36 in 1996) are almost in the right age group, considering that there are a couple of lines in the play itself that place Hamlet's age near 30.
    • The pictured above Nicol Williamson was actually the youngest notable actor to play the role (at 33, in the 1969 film).
  • Similarly, the age of one of Shakespeare's other great tragic leading men, Macbeth varies wildly depending on the aim of the production. In the 2006 Australian film version, he is a young man (30-year-old Sam Worthington), because he is portrayed to be a hotshot young drug lord; this age is not unusual in most film (and some stage) productions, which cast Macbeth in his early-mid thirties. However, in the recent stage production that moved from London to Broadway in 2008, he is an older man (68-year-old Patrick Stewart), because the point of the production was to star Patrick Stewart he is portrayed to be an aging general with a much younger trophy wife; Macbeth is rarely ever played by an actor of Stewart's age because it means the "old" King Duncan needs to be aged up even further.
    • It is also worth noting that the average age of a film Macbeth is actually younger than the average age of a film Hamlet.
  • Richard III is another example. In various productions, he's been played by 47-year-old Basil Rathbone, 48-year-old Laurence Olivier, 51-year-old Vincent Price, 46-year-old Peter Cook[1], 56-year-old Ian McKellen, and also 56-year-old Al Pacino. It should be noted that Richard was only 33 when he died at the battle of Bosworth Field, and only five years older than his usurper, Henry VII, who, unlike Richard, is usually played by a reasonably young actor.
  • Ang Lee's 1995 adaptation of Sense and Sensibility is full of this trope. Colonel Brandon, who was supposed to be 35 or 36, was played by 49 year old Alan Rickman. The 19-year old-Elinor Dashwood was played by 35-year-old Emma Thompson, and 17-year-old Marianne Dashwood was played by 20-year-old Kate Winslet. However, the movie implies that the Dashwood sisters are in their late and early 20s, respectively and that Colonel Brandon is an older world-weary gent that we would associate with someone nearing 50. Lee and (scriptwriter) Emma Thompson made a conscious decision to age Elinor up to at least her mid-twenties, because they didn't think the audience would accept a 19-year-old worrying about being left on the shelf.
  • In the film adaptation of the James Patterson novel Along Came a Spider, Alex Cross is played by Morgan Freeman. Cross is implied by the text to be in his forties or early fifties, and Freeman was sixty at the time. It's even more jarring that his love interest is played by the then thirty year old Monica Potter.
  • Roberto Benigni playing the title role in his film version of Pinocchio, at the age of 50.
  • In the BBC film versions of Philip Pullman's books The Ruby in the Smoke and The Shadow in the North, actor Matt Smith plays street kid Jim, who is 11 in the first book and 16 in the second, as a man in his late teens/early twenties. Which could cause problems if they ever get around to filming the fourth book, The Tin Princess.
  • In Forbidden Zone, all the children are played by adults. The most Egregious example being Flash Hercules, who is played by a 70 years old man!!
  • In The Adventures of Robin Hood, the 48-year-old Claude Rains is cast as Prince John -- who was historically 26 at the time of his brother Richard's imprisonment. Like most fictionalizations of Robin Hood's story push John up to middle age.
  • This probably has to do more with legal compliance than artistic reason, but no matter what actress is playing her, the character of Lolita always starts the movie at age 14 or 15 rather than 12, which she is at the beginning of the book.
  • In the film version of Logan's Run, the mandatory death age was increased to 30 (compared to the book's 21) for this reason.
    • The book's notion that sexual activity becomes legal-- and practically encouraged-- at the age of 14 probably doesn't help.
  • In the book of Interview with the Vampire, Claudia was changed at the age of five. In The Movie, Claudia was played by Kirsten Dunst, who was twelve upon the movie's release. Asides from narrowing down the Squick factor, a five-year-old would not have been able to understand the character of Claudia to give an effective performance, while a child several years older WOULD be able to play the role well (And believe you me, Dunst DID).
  • None of the actors who've played Paul, Leto II and Ghanima Atreides, or Feyd-Rautha Harkonnen have been under 20. Of course, since Paul and Feyd-Rautha were 15 during Dune itself and Leto II and Ghanima were 8 this is understandable. Generally, Paul and Feyd's ages are not mentioned in the adaptations, which makes this arguably a case of All There in the Manual and Dawson Casting, but for the Sy Fy version of Children of Dune, Leto and Ghanima's ages were upped to around 18. The 1984 adaptation of Dune also has the 4 year old Alia played by the 9 year old (at time of release) Alicia Witt.
  • In Picnic William Holden considered himself too old (he was 37) to play Hal Carter, supposedly of the same generation as The Chick played by Kim Novak (22).
  • One of the biggest criticisms of the James Bond movie A View to a Kill was that Roger Moore was still playing Bond at age 58 (he was 46 he was first cast as Bond in Live and Let Die). Sean Connery himself said "Bond should be played by an actor 35, 33 years old. I’m too old. Roger’s too old, too!".
  • Most of the main cast of Percy Jackson and The Olympians was aged up from their preteens. Most notorious in Annabeth's case - sure, they aged her up from twelve to sixteen, but that didn't stop Alexandria Daddario from being in her early twenties.
  • In The Godfather, Marlon Brando (age 47) played the title character Vito Corleone (who ages from 55 to 65 over the course of the film). All his children except Talia Shire also fit him under Playing Gertrude too.
    • Also in the sequel The Godfather Part III, where Al Pacino (50) played Michael Corleone (59) -- this may seem like a small jump, but Pacino was made up to look like he'd aged a lot, with greyed hair and so on.
  • Superman Returns: 22 year old Kate Bosworth played Lois Lane in a movie that was supposed to take place five years after Superman II in which Lois was already years into her career and was played by the then 30 year old Margot Kidder.
  • In the 1995 film of Richard III, Maggie Smith plays the Duchess of York, mother to Richard of Gloucester, Edward IV and the Duke of Clarence. Smith was 61 at the time the film was made. Ian McKellen, who placed Richard was 56, John Wood who played Edward was four years older than her at 65, and Nigel Hawthorne who played Clarence was sixty-six. To be fair, Maggie Smith has been playing older women for most of her career.
  • The grandpa of all slasher flicks Blood Feast, the character of Fuad Ramses is referred to several times as an "old man" even though the actor playing him was all of 30 years old. Thus, Fuad had some rather unconvincing gray streaks spray-painted into his hair.
  • The musical Nine is about a filmmaker experiencing a mid-life crisis as he turns forty. For the film version, his age was upped to fifty to match Daniel Day-Lewis (52 in 2009, when the film was released).
  • In every film and television version of Wuthering Heights, Heathcliff and Cathy are played by the adult actors during the scene where they eavesdrop on the Lintons, making giggling coments. In the novel they are children at this time, explaining their childish behavior.
  • Watchmen has multiple examples, which are justified as the characters also appear in flashbacks set at least 20 years prior, and it's easier to add age with makeup than it is to subtract it: Carla Gugino as Sally/Silk Spectre I and Jeffrey Dean Morgan as the Comedian (she was 37, he was 42, both play characters that ranges from the 20s in flashbacks to the late 60s in 1985), Malin Akerman as Laurie/Silk Spectre II (29 during filming, ranges from 17 to 37 - and the two actors mentioned prior are her on-screen parents), and Matthew Goode as Ozymandias (29 at the time of filming, playing a 46-year-old - in flashbacks, 27). Also, canonically Jon Osterman was 30 when he "died" (and became Dr. Manhattan, who essentially doesn't age), but his actor, Billy Crudup, was 39.
  • The Star Wars prequels end up causing this to Darth Vader, who died at the age of 46 - but his unmasked and (original) Force Ghost actor in Return of the Jedi, Sebastian Shaw, was 72'.
  • In the book of A Clockwork Orange, the band of droogies were adolescents of about 14 or 15. When Kubrick chose Malcolm Macdowell for the role of Alex, all were aged up accordingly. Echoes of the book occur when Alex is depicted as school age and when (years later) Dim describes himself and his partner as "of job age" in the scene where they torture Alex.
  • Though it seems odd, the film adaptations of Harry Potter do this accidentally with Lily and James Potter. Looking at the flashback clips, the moving pictures, and the images in the Mirror of Erised, Lily and James appear to have been in their 30's or 40's when they had Harry. Which would make sense, since their ages weren't revealed until the seventh book, six years after the first movie had been made. Though the film versions of Harry's parents look quite middle-aged, the book version of Harry's parents were only 20 when they had Harry and 21 when they died.
  • Fittingly Shakespeare in Love has a few examples. Shakespeare himself is actually played by an actor the right age (28 year old Joseph Fiennes) and Geoffrey Rush was only slightly older than the real life Philip Henslowe but Rupert Everett was a decade too old to play the then 29 year old Christopher Marlowe and Richard Burbage who was only 25 in 1593 was played by a then 37 year old Martin Clunes.

Live-Action TV

  • In the Animorphs book series, the characters age from 13 in book 1 to 16 in book 54. In the short-lived TV series, though, the characters start out as 15- and 16-year-olds (played by actors as old as 25). In all fairness, as part of the series' conceit that it was secret accounts of a guerrilla war, the characters deliberately obscured their ages; that they were 13 in the beginning wasn't revealed until the second-to-last book, and the show was canceled long before then.
    • There is some evidence to their age long before the last book. Tobias describes Jake as a "typical middle school kid" in an early book, which means the Animorphs must be between the ages of 11 and 14.
  • In the Southern Vampire Mysteries, the character of Pam is stated to have been nineteen when she was turned into a vampire. The producers of the TV adaptation True Blood cast the fortysomething actress Kristin Bauer van Straten as Pam and seem to have dropped any reference to her youth when changed over. It remains to be seen whether the adaptational aging is explicitly acknowledged within the series.
  • Virtually all the child characters in the HBO adaptation of A Game of Thrones have been aged up by a few years. For instance, in the books, Robb Stark and Jon Snow are fifteen and Daenerys Targaryen is thirteen. The characters are aged up to about 18 and 16 respectively (and are played by twenty-five year old Richard Madden and Kit Harington, and twenty-three year old Emilia Clarke). Part of this is probably in order to accommodate older actors who could handle the dramatic heavy lifting. Part of it is also because the intense sex and violence in the book would be much more disturbing (and in the case of Daenerys, likely illegal) if portrayed by actors who look closer to the book ages.
    • The slightly older ages are accounted for in the backstory by setting Robert's Rebellion seventeen years before the start of the story proper rather than only fifteen years.
  • In the definitive adaptation of Anne of Green Gables, Megan Follows, who was seventeen at the time, played an Anne Shirley who was advanced in-text from eleven to thirteen years old. Not, perhaps, a vast difference (Follows is still effective in the role), but the scatterbrained, temperamental, and openly imaginative character seems exaggerated when she's aged up.
    • Even more so in the 1930s film starring Anne Shirley - the actress who took the character's name for her own - where she is stated to be fourteen.
  • Deadwood doubled the age of Al Swearengen's character, among a lot of other changes. Whereas the historical character was a just married 31 years-old man from Iowa in 1876, the TV character was an Englishman in his 60s with a hinted agitated life that had taken him to Manchester, New York, Virginia, Chicago and even Australia at some point.
  • Jesse Stone is in his mid-thirties in the novel series, while in the TV movies he's played by Tom Selleck, who's in his 60s. Despite this Robert B. Parker himself approved and said Selleck nailed the role.

Notes

  1. (it's Blackadder but it still counts)
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