What is Playing Age? | Playing Age Vs Real Age

Posted by Indiana - 29 Sep 2022
What is "Playing Age"? | Uni-versal Extras Blog

Whilst working in TV and Film, you may have come up against the expression ‘Playing Age‘.

If you’re unfamiliar, then never fear.

UVE have got the need-to-know info so you can approach castings with confidence.

So, without further ado…

What Is Playing Age?

‘Playing age’ is a term used in the casting world. It refers to the age range that you could realistically pass for on-screen.

For some Artistes this might be very close to their real age – but for others, it can vary quite drastically.

For instance, did you know that whilst playing 16-year old Regina George in teen comedy Mean Girls (2004), Rachel McAdams was in fact 28 years old. At the time, her on-screen mother (Amy Poehler) was just 5 years her senior at age 33!

What about Stockard Channing in the musical classic Grease?

Did you know that the character of Rizzo was just 17 – and yet the brilliant Ms. Channing was actually 33.

Playing age typically refers to your natural qualities (your face, build, voice, etc.), although that’s not to say that this can’t be helped somewhat with clever wardrobe, makeup and prosthesis.

For an SA, however, playing age simply means what is a believable age range for you could be cast in at your most natural.

Would you blend seamlessly into a school environment – perhaps at a prom, or roaming the school halls?

Are you more fitted to the role of a young professional working at an office, or schmoozing at a gala?

Perhaps you’re a more mature Artiste that’s overlooking a self-built business empire, out drinking with friends, or relaxing at a golf club.

These are all things that casting agents must consider when looking for roles that are right for you.

In some cases, performers find that their look allows them to be considered for roles that differ from their real age.

For instance, here are some age-defying actors that – at time of filming – had a real age that may surprise you:

CharacterCharacter AgeActorReal Age
Moaning Myrtle (The Harry Potter series)14Shirley Henderson37
Peter Parker (Spider-Man: Far From Home)15Tom Holland
Sam (Love Actually)10Thomas Brodie Sangster
Peter Parker (The Amazing Spider-Man 2)18Andrew Garfield
Clare Devlin (Derry Girls)16Nicola Coughlan31
Ginger (Ginger & Rosa)16Elle Fanning13

As you may have gathered from the above, the trend does tend to lean towards older actors playing younger roles, rather than the other way around.

This can be for lots of reasons:

Older actors may be able to offer more life – or on-set – experience than younger actors.
Casting younger actors can mean conflicts with the actors’ school schedule.
Different certification is required for crew on sets with actors under the age of 16 present.
Older actors have less visible growth between series & sequels, meaning they can be believable as a certain character for longer.
Older actors may be more established and therefore can offer a slightly wider audience appeal.

…See just how important playing age is! Speaking of which…

How To Add Playing Age to Your Profile

Adding your playing age to your profile can be achieved in just a few clicks. Head over to the UVE Artiste App and select:

Profile > Personal Details > Appearance

Once in the Appearance section, scroll right down to the bottom where you will see the Playing Age field, like so…

Adding Your Playing Age | UVE Artiste App - Appearance

Then, select the drop down menu to make your choice. Here we suggest sticking to the age range that encompasses your real age – unless, of course, you are very confident that this differs.

Never fret, though. If you’re at all unsure, you can reach our Artiste Support team on 0345 00909 344 (option 2) where a member of the team will be very happy to help advise!

Head back to the UVE blog for even more great Film & TV content?