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The Best and Worst Casting of Younger Versions of Characters

Ever watch a flashback in a movie and not recognize a character because of casting? Here are 25 times casting directors got it right -- and really, really wrong.
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Are you ever watching a movie, and then a flashback comes on the screen, and the younger version of the character just looks perfect? Or how about when an actor pops on screen saying they’re the younger version, but it just doesn’t feel right? Sometimes, casting directors hit the nail on the head. Others miss the mark completely. Here are 25 of the best and worse castings of younger versions of actors.

GOOD: Bailee Madison and Ginnifer Goodwin as Snow White in ‘Once Upon a Time’

Bailee Madison and Ginnifer Goodwin as Snow White in Once Upon a Time
ABC | Disney-ABC Domestic Television | Kitsis/Horowitz

Out of all the Once Upon a Time castings, Bailee Madison playing a younger Ginnifer Goodwin was the best. Even the recast of Henry in the last season wasn’t believable. Snow White was one of the main characters, and the casting department did a great job making a young Snow look like adult Snow.

Bailee Madison and Ginnifer Goodwin look almost identical with their rounder faces. Even their noses and smiles are the same. The only difference is Ginnifer’s eyes are slightly narrower, but that could just be that she’s always smiling. Someone needs to cast them as mother and daughter already.

BAD: Remy Thorne and Matthew Gray Gubler as Spencer Reid in ‘Criminal Minds’

Remy Thorne and Matthew Gray Gubler as Spencer Reid in Criminal Minds
CBS | The Mark Gordon Company | Entertainment One | Touchstone Television | Buena Vista Television | Disney-ABC Domestic Television

In “Revelations” in season two of Criminal Minds, Remy Thorne played a young Matthew Gray Gubler in a flashback. Throughout the rest of the show, many young actors played Gubler as a child or teenager, and they all looked more like Gubler than Thorne did.

Thorne may have done a good job portraying Spencer, but he just doesn’t look like Gubler, even after maturing over the last decade. The actors have different face, nose, and eye shapes. Remy’s face is more square with a button nose.

GOOD: Wyatt Oleff and Andy Bean as Stanley Uris in ‘It’

Wyatt Oleff and Andy Bean as Stanley in It Chapters One and Two
Warner Bros. Pictures | New Line Cinema | Lin Pictures | Vertigo Entertainment | KatzSmith Productions | DoubleDream | Rideback

When It Chapter Two announced their casting of the adult versions of the kids from It Chapter One, fans could see that they did a great job. They managed to cast amazing actors who looked a lot like the children. The best casting I found in the sequel was Andy Bean as an older Wyatt.

It was highly believable that Wyatt could age up and look like Andy. The only difference between the two is that Andy’s mouth is slightly smaller than Wyatt’s, but it’s only noticeable when comparing their pictures side by side. They honestly look like father and son.

BAD: Alden Ehrenreich and Harrison Ford as Han Solo in the Star Wars Universe

Alden Ehrenreich and Harrison Ford as Han Solo in Star Wars franchise
Lucasfilm Ltd. | 20th Century Fox | Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

When I first heard about Solo: A Star Wars Story, I was extremely excited because I loved Han Solo in the original trilogy (and the first sequel movie). But when Alden was announced as Han, my excitement drained a little bit. He doesn’t look like Harrison at all.

Alden did a good job with what he had to work with in the film, but overall, he just doesn’t look like the Han Solo we all love. They have completely different face shapes, eye shapes, and noses. There were so many actors who looked like Harrison Ford that I’m a little disappointed in the casting department.

GOOD: Josh Brolin and Tommy Lee Jones as Agent K in ‘Men in Black 3’

Josh Brolin and Tommy Lee Jones as Agent K in Men in Black
Sony Pictures Releasing | Columbia Pictures | Hemisphere Media Capital | Amblin Entertainment | P+M Image Nation | Imagenation Abu Dhabi

I honestly thought they CGI’d Tommy Lee Jones’s face onto someone else’s body in Men in Black 3. Josh Brolin did a great job. And even though Jones didn’t like Brolin’s impression of him, I’m sure we can all agree that Brolin was the best choice for the younger version of Agent K.

In addition to his mannerisms being on point, Josh looks like Jones did at the same age as Brolin. The only difference was their nose, but it’s only noticeable when you compare their pictures from the movie. Even their hairline is similar, but that could have also been the makeup department.

BAD: Dominic Cooper and John Slattery as Howard Stark in the MCU

Dominic Cooper and John Slattery as Howard Stark in the MCU
Marvel | Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures | ABC Studios | F&B Fazekas & Butters

I know that Agent Carter is technically not “canon” in the Marvel Cinematic Universe anymore, but for a while, it was. So when John Slattery came on screen as an older Howard Stark after I had watched Dominic Cooper play the character in the show, it was jarring.

In no world in the multiverse do these two actors look similar. John’s face is much thinner and longer, while Dominic’s has a prominent square shape. The only similarity is their mustache, and even those were different shapes and lengths.

GOOD: Anthony Ingruber and Harrison Ford as William Jones in ‘Age of Adaline’

Anthony Ingruber and Harrison Ford in Age of Adaline from Ingruber Instagram
@anthony_ingruber on Instagram

Anthony Ingruber was the second actor to take on the role of a younger Harrison Ford in a movie, and he did a terrific job. When you compare a photo of Ingruber to one of Ford at Ingruber’s age, they look like brothers. In 2020, Ingruber posted a picture of the actors together on set for Ford’s birthday.

He posted, “Happy Birthday to my childhood hero and one of my favorite actors, Harrison Ford. It was such an amazing experience to not only meet but also get to portray this iconic legend #harrisonford #ageofadaline”.

BAD: Ryan Gosling and James Garner as Noah Calhoun in ‘The Notebook’

Ryan Gosling and James Garner as Noah in The Notebook
New Line Cinema | Gran Via

This is one of the most iconic love stories in the world, but they could have done better. The casting department slacked off when casting older versions of the two lovebirds, Noah and Allie. Though, I will let Allie’s more senior casting slide because it was more believable.

Now, let’s talk about James Garner and Ryan Gosling’s differences. Garner has a much more square face shape. Gosling’s is more of a heart or diamond, coming to a point where Garner’s doesn’t. It just isn’t believable that Gosling’s face would change that drastically as he aged.

GOOD: Kyra Adler and Sydney Sweeney as Cassie in ‘Euphoria’

Kyra Adler and Sydney Sweeney as Cassie in Euphoria
HBO | The Reasonable Bunch | A24 | Little Lamb | DreamCrew

We got to see the main girls of Euphoria as children a few times in the series, but Cassie’s had to be the best casting. Kyra looks almost exactly like Sydney at 11 years old. Euphoria was Kyra’s first role, but she blew me away. She managed to copy Sydney’s acting to a tee.

Their eyes, noses, and mouths are the exact same. The only difference between their looks is that Kyra’s face is slightly rounder, but it’s believable since we typically lose that baby fat as we grow up. I can’t wait to see how similar Kyra looks to Sydney as she gets older.

BAD: Alexa Demie and Keilani Arellanes as Maddy in ‘Euphoria’

Alexa Demie and Keilani Arellanes as Maddy in Euphoria
HBO | The Reasonable Bunch | A24 | Little Lamb | DreamCrew

Now, on the other hand with Euphoria’s casting, Maddy’s younger version wasn’t as believable. Even though they don’t look alike, they both did great in the show. The only similarities between the two actresses are their skin, hair, and eye colors.

Their face shapes are completely different, with Keilani’s being round while Alexa’s is much more skinny and prolonged. Even their noses are entirely different, with Keilani’s being more upturned and Alexa’s being straighter and slimmer.

GOOD: Lulu Wilson and Elizabeth Reaser as Shirley Crain in ‘Haunting of Hill House’

Lulu Wilson and Elizabeth Reaser as Shirley in Haunting of Hill House
Netflix | FlanaganFilm | Amblin Television | Paramount Television | ViacomCBS Domestic Media Networks

Elizabeth Reaser is one of those actresses with a very unique look. Despite this, the casting department of Haunting of Hill House found the perfect actress in Lulu Wilson to portray a younger Shirley Crain.

The only difference between the two is the chin and jawline, but it’s believable that Lulu’s would sharpen over time. They even managed to get the hairline and forehead size perfect. I’m impressed they did such a great job, even with the rest of the cast.

BAD: Shia LaBeouf and Robert Downey, Jr. as Dito in ‘A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints’

Shia Labeouf and Robert Downey, Jr. as Dito in A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints
First Look International | Madman Films

Here’s another casting choice that makes no sense. There isn’t a universe where these two actors could look similar. Throughout the movie, it was hard to believe the casting department decided to cast two iconic actors without thinking of appearances.

They have different face and eye shapes, noses, mouths, and skin colors. Robert Downey, Jr. has yellow undertones, while Shia has redder and pinker undertones to his skin. I feel like if you’re going to cast actors as the same character at different ages, that’s pretty important to get right.

GOOD: Hannah Zeile and Chrissy Metz as Kate in ‘This Is Us’

Hannah Zeile and Chrissy Metz as Kate in This Is Us
NBC | Rhode Island Ave. Productions | Zaftig Films | 20th Television

Now, don’t get me wrong, This Is Us did one of the best jobs of casting characters on television. But, Kate’s casting as a child, teenager, and adult was the best they did. Mackenzie Hancsicsak played Kate as a kid, but Hannah Zeile, who played her as a teen, looked precisely like Chrissy did as a teenager.

Their chins and jawlines are identical, and their eye shapes are exactly the same. The only difference between the two is that Hannah’s nose is slightly more downturned, and Chrissy’s has a straighter and longer bridge and is more upturned.

BAD: Christina Ricci and Rosie O’Donnell as Roberta in ‘Now and Then’

Christina Ricci and Rosie O'Donnell as Roberta in Now and Then
New Line Cinema

This is by far not the worst casting of the same character at different ages, but it’s not good either. There were so many prominent actresses when this movie was made that could have played a more believable older Christina Ricci, like Gillian Anderson.

The only similarities I saw between Rosie and Christina are their hair and eye colors. Other than that, they don’t look alike at all. Even their widow’s peaks are different, with Rosie’s being more noticeable. Christina’s jawline is also much sharper than Rosie’s.

GOOD: Ben Savage and Mandy Patinkin as Jason Gideon in ‘Criminal Minds’

Ben Savage and Mandy Patinkin as Gideon in Criminal Minds
CBS | The Mark Gordon Company | Entertainment One | Buena Vista Television | Disney Media Distribution | ABC Studios | Touchstone Television

I didn’t know I needed Ben Savage as a young Mandy Patinkin until I saw his episodes in Criminal Minds. I still wish the producers had given him his own spin-off following Savage’s Gideon back in the early days of the Behavioral Analysis Unit.

Aside from Ben managing to perfectly imitate Mandy’s mannerisms, he just looks like Mandy. Even as he ages, he looks more and more like he could be Mandy’s relative. It’s probably the best casting of a younger version anyone in the entire Criminal Minds franchise.

BAD: Luke Bracey and James Marsden as Dawson in ‘The Best of Me’

Luke Bracey and James Marsden as Dawson in The Best of Me
Relativity Media | Di Novi Pictures

Before I even get into how these two actors don’t look similar in any way, Luke was way too old to be playing a teenager, let alone a young James Marsden. He was also 25 when the movie came out, making it really hard to believe Bracey as Liana Liberato’s love interest (she was 19).

Now onto their differences, Luke and James have different face shapes, noses, and skin tones. Luke’s nose is much larger and prominent than James’s slimmer and smaller nose. I’m pretty sure they didn’t even think they looked alike.

GOOD: Jaidan Jiron and Hannah Simone as Cece in ‘New Girl’

Jaidan Jiron and Hannah Simone as Cece in New Girl
Fox | 20th Century Fox Television | 20th Television | Chernin Entertainment | Meriwether Productions | Elizabeth Meriwether Pictures | American Nitwits

I honestly thought New Girl took a leap and CGI’d Hannah’s face on her younger version. That’s how well they cast Jaidan. They look identical in the show, even though they don’t look much alike in real life. I’m still in awe by how well they did this casting.

In real life, Jaidan is much paler and has a different hair color than Hannah. But, when they changed her hairstyle and tanned her a bit, they looked utterly identical. I’m so glad they did such a great job since they did such a horrible job multiple times when casting young Jess Day.

BAD: Summer Fontana and Danielle Rose Russell as Hope Mikaelson in ‘The Originals’ and ‘Legacies’

Summer Fontana and Danielle Rose Russell as Hope Mikaelson in Legacies
Warner Bros. Television | CBS Television Studios | Alloy Entertainment | My So-Called Company | The CW

I love both of these actresses, but they don’t look alike. The closest I could see would be them playing cousins, but not the same character. I didn’t notice much until they interacted in a season three episode of Legacies. Even as Summer has aged into a teen, they haven’t grown in similarity.

When they were casting Summer, the main priority was to cast someone who could believably play Klaus’s daughter. When they found Danielle, it was more important to find someone who looked like Hayley and could carry a heavy storyline.

GOOD: Mckenna Grace and Kiernan Shipka as Sabrina Spellman in ‘The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina’

Mckenna Grace and Kiernan Shipka as Sabrina in The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina
Netflix | Warner Bros. Television | Archie Comics | Berlanti Productions | Muckle Man Productions

Mckenna really is just called in to play the younger version of so many actresses nowadays. She played a young Theo in Haunting of Hill House, young Carol in Captain Marvel, and young Caroline in The Vampire Diaries. And she did excellent in all of those, just like when she appeared in this show.

If you just look at the pictures between the two, you’d think they were just the same person at different ages. But, nope, it’s two different people. And, no, they’re not related. The only difference may be their noses, but it’s really not that different.

BAD: Skyler Gisondo and James Roday Rodriguez as Shawn in ‘Psych’

Skyler Gisondo and James Roday Rodriguez as Shawn in Psych
NBC | USA Network | Pacific Mountain Productions | TagLine Television

There was another actor who played a younger Shawn in Psych, but this was the only one who didn’t look like the show’s star. The first casting of Liam James as a young Shawn was much better, and I’m a little sad they had to recast in season five.

To start, their hair texture and color are off. James’s hair is slightly curlier than Skyler’s. Skyler also has freckles that have stuck with him to this day. That’s something James doesn’t have. They also have different noses, face shapes, and mouths.

GOOD: River Phoenix and Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones in ‘The Last Crusade’

River Phoenix and Harrison Ford in Indiana Jones
Lucasfilm Ltd. | Paramount Pictures

The casting of River Phoenix as a young Harrison Ford was probably a great choice at the time. Nowadays, there are some actors who look more like him, but I did enjoy River’s portrayal. Sadly, this would be the only time we saw him as a young Harrison.

The only difference that stood out to me was their noses, but even that’s not really distracting. Looking at their pictures from the film, even their ears are similar. Harrison’s might be a bit more pointed than River’s, but it’s not noticeable in the movie.

BAD: Josh Hutcherson and Dax Shepard as Walter in ‘Zathura: A Space Adventure’

Josh Hutcherson and Dax Sheperd as Walter in Zathura A Space Adventure
Sony Pictures Releasing | Columbia Pictures | Radar Pictures | Teitler Film | Michael De Luca Productions

I haven’t seen this movie in ages, but I can tell you seeing Dax Shepard in the film was jarring. Especially after I found out he was supposed to be an older Josh Hutcherson. There isn’t one thing that could make this believable.

For one, Hutcherson has a dimple on his chin and a square face. Dax doesn’t have either of these. Dax also has much lighter eyes than Hutcherson. The only similarity between the two was their forehead size and hairstyle, but that was all on the makeup department.

GOOD: Alexandra Kyle and Judy Greer as Lucy in ’13 Going on 30’

Alexandra Kyle and Judy Greer as Lucy in 13 Going On 30
Sony Pictures Releasing | Columbia Pictures | Revolution Studios

I still can’t believe how well the casting department did on this movie. Seriously, why didn’t they get an award for the casting? It was on point with every single character.

Alexandra and Judy share the same face, Alexandra’s is just younger since she’s a teenager. Everything from their eye shapes to hair color, even their noses, are exactly the same. I think Alexandra managed to portray a younger Judy Greer perfectly.

BAD: Zac Efron and Matthew Perry as Mike in ’17 Again’

Zac Efron and Matthew Perry as Mike in 17 Again
Warner Bros. Pictures | New Line Cinema | Offspring Entertainment

You can’t make me believe these two could possibly be the same person. Zac Efron and Matthew Perry played prominent characters from my childhood, but in no way do they look similar. And I know they wanted to cast two popular actors, but come on, do better.

First off, Zac has much more tanned and yellow-toned skin, while Matthew’s has much more pink undertones. And they don’t even have face shapes that look alike. Zac’s face shape is much rounder, while Matthew’s is more of a square.

GOOD: Christa B. Allen and Jennifer Garner as Jenna in ’13 Going on 30’

Christa B. Allen and Jennifer Garner as Jenna in 13 Going on 30
Sony Pictures Releasing | Columbia Pictures | Revolution Studios

Again, someone give the casting directors an award for this movie. Christa B. Allen recently turned 30 and looks eerily similar to Jennifer Garner. Even Jennifer Garner mentioned it in her birthday video from earlier this year.

Did you see Christa recreate some scenes from 13 Going on 30? She got the iconic dress and did her hair and makeup precisely like Jennifer’s. I personally think she also sounds a bit like Jennifer. How did the casting department manage to find Jennifer’s doppelganger so easily?