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Movie Stars Who Lied About Their Age To Get A Role

Lying in Hollywood is far from unheard of. Many A-list movie and television actors such as George Clooney, Robert Pattinson, and Anne Hathaway have lied about several personal details in order to get roles. While lying is generally not a good thing, these specific falsehoods have either led to a movie or TV show that sent their careers in the right direction or got them out of a rut in the entertainment industry.

One common detail that actors often lie about is their age. This topic has been long debated in connection to Hollywood since many actors, no matter how accomplished they are, have been turned down for major roles based on how old they are. Rather than reshape their faces with plastic surgery or suffer rejection due to child labor laws, up-and-coming performers lie about their age to score roles that could advance their acting careers. We're here to look at actors who lied about their age to get one or, in some cases, multiple roles in movies or TV shows.

Mila Kunis wasn't exactly legal on That 70s Show

Although she appeared in many movies and TV shows beforehand, Mila Kunis had to lie about her age in order to score the role of Jackie Burkhart on the iconic sitcom That '70s Show. While on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno in 2012, the talk show host asked her how old she was when she was cast in That '70s Show. Kunis responded, "Legally, I was 14. I told them that I was a little bit older," before Leno interrupted and asked if she meant "14 and a half." 

Turns out he was a couple of years off. Kunis explained that she was in ninth grade and "pretty 14," but she told the That 70s Show team that she "was going to be 18," which she doesn't consider a lie since she was eventually going to be 18. "They figured it out sooner or later," Kunis said. "But that's okay." Obviously, being 18 and becoming 18 are entirely different. If the people behind That '70s Show found out sooner about Kunis' real age, then she may not have gone on to score bigger roles as Meg from Family Guy and Lily from Black Swan. Plus Kunis made them think she was 18 and that takes talent!

Sandra Bullock lied her way into Love Potion No. 9

Although Sandra Bullock had starred in three other movies prior to the release of 1992's Love Potion No. 9, it was still an important enough movie to lie about her age for. In 1992, Bullock told talk show host Barbara Walters (via Screen Rant) that the people behind this rom-com were apparently looking for a 29-year-old actress to play biologist Diane Farrow. Bullock was either 27 or 28 around that time, yet she still convinced these filmmakers that she was the right age. 

That was not the only time that Bullock lied about her age, however. Bullock told Detour magazine (via Nicki Swift), "After a while, you really have no idea how old you are because you've lied so many times. I always said I would never lie, but one time when I didn't, it worked against me. So I figure you just keep them guessing." The actress hasn't mentioned which other movies she lied herself into, but since Love Potion No. 9 was a critical and commercial failure, was all that trouble worth it?

Laurence Fishburne aged into his role in Apocalypse Now

Apocalypse Now is often considered one of the greatest movies of all time, so it's no wonder why Laurence Fishburne lied about his age to score a supporting role in the 1979 film. Although the actor was 14 at the time of casting, he told the filmmakers that he was 16 to land the role of 18-year-old Tyrone "Mr. Clean" Miller. In 2013, Fishburne explained on George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight that he thought director and co-writer Francis Ford Coppola saw through his lies but ultimately cast him after asking a young secretary if she believed Fishburne was 18 — to which she replied, "Yeah, I guess so." Funnily enough, filming took so long that Fishburne was 17 when it finally finished.

This white lie not only advanced Fishburne's acting career but also led him to save someone else's life. Apocalypse Now lead Martin Sheen told Access Hollywood (via Digital Spy) in 2012 that, when writing the autobiography Along the Way with his son Emilio Estevez, he was stunned to learn that Fishburne saved Estevez from drowning on set. "We didn't have a clue that that had happened. I wanna call Laurence and thank him...," said Sheen. "I would have gone up and hugged and kissed him and thanked him [on the set] but I didn't have a clue." In the end, one lie ironically led to many good things.

Gabrielle Carteris lopped off 8 years to move into Beverly Hills, 90210

A 29-year-old Gabrielle Carteris lied about her age in order to play 16-year-old Andrea Zuckerman on the classic teen drama Beverly Hills, 90210Her last appearance on the original series was in 2000, yet Carteris didn't publicly discuss this lie until 2011 when she spoke with Access Hollywood. "They didn't know, I lied," said Carteris. "I actually talked to a lawyer about how could I sign these contracts and lie about my age and still be able to do the show. 'Is it OK?' And, 'Yes it is, as long as you just say you're over 21.'"

Unfortunately, Carteris could not hide the truth forever. A magazine that she would not name conducted an interview on the show with "somebody else" who asked Carteris' agent about how old she was. The actress continued to remain tight-lipped about her age, but this magazine illegally found it in the DMV. "I thought, 'This is it! I'm gonna lose the job, there's no way,'" said Carteris. "By that time, the show had been on long enough, so it was OK."

After she left Beverly Hills, 90210 as a regular cast member in 1995, Carteris amassed many performances in film, television, and video games. She would also become the second National President of the combined Screen Actors' Guild and American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) in 2016. Would Carteris still have all of this if she didn't lie about her age?

Carla Gugino fibbed on her Troop Beverly Hills induction form

Although she appeared on several TV shows beforehand, Carla Gugino made her motion picture debut in the 1989 cult classic Troop Beverly Hills and had to lie about her age in order to have a role in the film.

Over 30 years later, Gugino spoke with celebrity cook Rachael Ray about the movie and how she got the part of Chica Barnfell. "I was 16, but I lied and said I was 14 to get the job," said Gugino. "I told [the director] when it was far enough into the movie and I knew they couldn't fire me. And he was like, 'I never would've hired you had I known you were 16.'" The actress also explained why she looked so tall in the photo that Ray showed earlier in the interview. "I will never be taller than my peers," said Gugino. "But in this one I am, because they're all two years younger than me."

As Gugino got older, she accepted roles in more mature movies such as Sin City and Watchmen. Hopefully, she didn't have to lie about her age to score those parts.

Nicolas Cage was too young for Fast Times at Ridgemont High

The 1982 stoner comedy Fast Times at Ridgemont High marked the earliest film appearance for Nicolas Cage, who had to lie about his age to get the part

Although the movie revolves around high school students, its casting directors looked for 18-year-olds due to the occasionally explicit nature of the film's subject matter. The 17-year-old Cage falsely claimed he was 18 when he auditioned for the lead role of Brad, but it ultimately went to Judge Reinhold. He was still cast in the film as "Brad's Bud," but the role was much less significant. "I must have auditioned for the Judge Reinhold part 10 or 11 times," Cage told Huffington Post in 2012. "I was underage, so I couldn't get it because I couldn't work as many hours."

Despite his minuscule role in Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Cage would continue to star in many more films such as Raising ArizonaMoonstruck, and Face/Off. He would also win a Best Actor Oscar for his performance in 1995 romantic drama Leaving Las Vegas. Would all of that have happened if Cage didn't lie about his age? 

Rachel McAdams faked her way into multiple roles

While Rachel McAdams has played many young people throughout her career, the entertainment magazine Radar claimed that she supposedly lied about her age just to get those roles. At one point, IMDb.com said McAdams was 28, while a November 2005 Details magazine profile listed her age as 29. McAdams's then-publicist, Ame Van Iden, denounced the latter, so a Details source said the publication would only run a correction after Van Iden clarified that "IMDb had been notified of its error." 

As of May 2007, when the Radar piece was published, IMDb still listed McAdams' age at that point as 30. Elle magazine wrote about McAdams for its April cover of that year, saying, "IMDb states (her age) is 30, but is really, truly, ask her mother, 28." The actress' rep told Radar that she was indeed 28, but a source involved with one of her then-recent movies said that it was "no secret among the producers" that she cut off a couple of years in interviews but added them back when she was up for parts that called for a more "mature" actress. The point of all this? It may explain why McAdams played a high school student in Mean Girls when she was 24 years old.

Whoopi Goldberg's true age was a secret

Whoopi Goldberg had to lie about her age long before she would become one of the few performers to win an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar, and a Tony. The renaissance woman told The Washington Post in 1986 that she "giggles about the secrets contained on her California driver's license," which included her real age, 30, instead of the widely publicized age of 35 that she used to get jobs. That same article stated that Goldberg was a "welfare mother" two years prior, so she had somewhat of a reason to lie about her age.

Funnily enough, Goldberg would go on to play an ageless character named Guinan in the television series Star Trek: The Next Generation. This humanoid bartender was from the El-Aurian species and was born sometime before the late 19th century, but her exact age was never specified, adding to her mysterious nature. Knowing how Goldberg got her start in Hollywood, she must have enjoyed playing a character who didn't have a specific age.

Jessica Chastain has been vague about her age

Jessica Chastain has starred in a number of high-profile films throughout her career such as Zero Dark Thirty and Interstellar, yet she will not reveal her actual age to the public. As Chastain explained to The Independent in 2013 — while she was supposedly 35 at the time — "I will never say my age because I'm an actress, and I want to play different ages." This perspective makes sense since Hollywood has a long history of ageism that is still debated to this very day.

Chastain would once again discuss age in film almost two years later. In response to Russell Crowe saying that older women want to play younger roles, Chastain exclaimed at the 2014 National Board of Review Awards Gala (via Cosmopolitan), "I think Russell keeps getting his foot stuck in his mouth. There are some incredible actresses in their 50s and 60s that are not getting opportunities in films, and for someone to say there are plenty of roles for women that age ... [that] is not someone who's going to the movie theater." While Chastain isn't likely to act alongside Crowe in the near future, she was at least speaking her mind with these comments.

Humphrey Bogart's real birthday was disputed

Humphrey Bogart is best known for starring in classic Hollywood movies such as The Maltese Falcon and Casablanca, but the fact-checking website Snopes revealed that his actual birthday (and age) has always been up for debate. Throughout his career, studio biographies listed Bogart's birthday as Christmas Day of 1899. Later accounts, such as Clifford McCarty's The Complete Films of Humphrey Bogart, claimed that the Warner Bros. publicity department had changed the star's birthday to December 25th "to foster the view that a man born on Christmas Day couldn't really be as villainous as he appeared to be on screen."

Snopes clarified that this "real explanation" is not true for several reasons. First off, Bogart always celebrated his birthday on Christmas Day and listed it on official records, including his marriage license. Bogart's biographers, A.M. Sperber and Eric Lax, have even said, "While his birth certificate appears to be lost, the Ontario County Times, which kept tabs on the region's notables, announced in its January 10, 1900, issue: 'Born: at New York, Dec. 25, 1899, to Dr. and Mrs. Belmont DeForest Bogart, a son.'" State and federal census records also state that Bogart was born on December 25, 1899. In this case, it seems certain that an actor's stated birthday was the real thing.