The most ludicrous parent-child age gaps in movies

Bryce Dallas Howard has just joined the cast of Dexter Fletcher’s Elton John movie Rocketman, where she’ll play Elton’s mother Sheila. She’s 37 and Taron Egerton, who plays Elton, is 28 – so she had him when she was 9-years-old?! This kind of thing happens more often than you think in Hollywood though.

The silver sheen of the movie screen can forgive a lot, but it can’t always turn back the clock. These 10 parent/child movie pairings might have looked good on celluloid, but on paper, the actor’s age gaps make for a different story…

Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade (1989)

Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade (Paramount)

The father: Sean Connery
The child: Harrison Ford
The age gap: 12 years

To be fair, Sean Connery and Harrison Ford are two ageless men: movie stars who seem forever preserved in cinematic amber. However, ever since Connery hung up Bond’s tux he’s operated in Kindly Grandpa Mode (even when romancing Catherine Zeta-Jones in Entrapment), and his ice white beard and scolding tone made him the ideal candidate to knock Harrison Ford’s Indy – just 12 years his junior – into shape. Ford, 74, still dating Calista Flockhart, 52, has never let an age gap worry him.

Forrest Gump (1994)

Forrest Gump (Paramount)

The mother: Sally Field
The child: Tom Hanks
The age gap: 9 years

To this day, Tom Hanks still calls Sally Field ‘Mama’. The actress played Hanks’ mother from when Forrest was a boy right through to adulthood, which does help explain the rather paltry nine year age gap between the pair.

Six years earlier, however, Field played Tom Hanks’ love interest in the movie Punchline. This is a pertinent example for those who like to illustrate how quickly middle-aged women in Hollywood go from being a ‘viable love interest’ to getting cast as ‘wrinkly old spinster’.

The Graduate (1967)

The Graduate (MGM)

The mother: Anne Bancroft
The child: Katherine Ross
The age gap: 9 years

Okay, so ‘Mother’ needed to be relatively youthful and attractive in order to believably seduce Dustin Hoffman in this ’60s classic (that iconic, poster-worthy shot of Anne Bancroft’s legs wouldn’t be quite so effective if she was rocking varicose veins) but she was just nine years older than her screen daughter. That just doesn’t add up; maybe that’s what Hoffman and Katherine Ross are each pondering on the back of that bus in the film’s iconic closing shot.

Prometheus (2012)

Prometheus (20th Century Fox)

The father: Guy Pearce
The child: Charlize Theron
The age gap: 9 years

For all of Prometheus’s flaws, the one that’s overlooked the most was the inexplicable decision to cast Guy Pearce as 103-year-old billionaire industrialist and Rupert Murdoch lookalike Peter Weyland, slathering the poor Aussie in layers of prosthetics. That deeply weird casting choice gave us the gift of Pearce, 44, wearing old man makeup, talking to his screen daughter Vickers, played by 36-year-old actress Charlize Theron. Is this weird or not? We can’t wrap our heads around it.

Star Trek (2009)

Star Trek (Paramount)

The mother: Winona Ryder
The child: Zachary Quinto
The age gap: 5 years

Winona Ryder seemed like she’d stay young forever thanks to iconic roles in teen movies like Heathers and Beetlejuice, and to be fair, she has aged extremely well, looking half her 46 years. However, the choice to cast her as Spock’s mother in JJ Abrams’ Star Trek reboot was a puzzler, given that Zachary Quinto and Ryder were both teenagers at the same time. Vulcan women just have good genes, we guess.

Alexander (2004)

Alexander (Warner Bros.)

The mother: Angelina Jolie
The child: Colin Farrell
The age gap: 1 year

Even if you discount the super-weird incestuous thing going on between them, the screen relationship between mother Angelina Jolie and son Colin Farrell in Oliver Stone’s historical flub is deeply peculiar. “I think seeing us together, he fits Alexander and I fit Olympias, and somehow together we became mother and son,” commented Jolie, “somehow” being the operative word. Still, they did things differently in the olden days. Maybe there were lots of Macedonian women giving birth at the age of one.

Riding In Cars With Boys (2001)

Riding In Cars With Boys (Columbia)

The mother: Drew Barrymore
The child: Adam Garcia
The age gap: Minus 2 years

Now we’re getting into bizarre territory: films where the children are actually older than their movie parents in real life. Drew Barrymore plays a girl who gets pregnant at age 15; it’s testament to her youthful looks that she could play the same role 20 years later, but less believable was the casting of her 20-year-old son. Adam Garcia was 28 when he played Drew’s son, making him two years older than his screen mother. We bet that made for some interesting off-screen chemistry…

Back To The Future (1985)

Back To The Future (Universal)

The father: Crispin Glover
The child: Michael J Fox
The age gap: Minus 3 years

Does Back To The Future get a free pass for casting Crispin Glover as Marty McFly’s father, despite the fact that he was three years younger than even the eternally youthful Michael J Fox? The twisted temporal timelines, and the need for Glover to play George McFly as both a young and older man suggests that lenience is in order, but it’s worth noting just how well Glover sells being Marty’s old man, even though he’s not. Leah Thompson, for what it’s worth, is three months younger than her screen son.

Blow (2001)

Blow (New Line)

The mother: Rachel Griffiths
The child: Johnny Depp
The age gap: Minus 5 years

Sure, Johnny Depp has cheekbones that could slice cheese and granted, they take years off his age (he’s currently 55), but only someone who has been snorting copious amounts of Colombian marching powder could believe that Australian access Rachel Griffiths could pass for his mother. She’s five years younger than him for a start; it’s another classic case of casting a mum against a male character seen as both young and old and hoping nobody notices. Well, we noticed.

Hamlet (1948)

Hamlet (Rank Organisation)

The mother: Eileen Herlie
The child: Laurence Olivier
The age gap: Minus 11 years

Laurence Olivier was almost old enough to be co-star Eileen Herlie’s father, but the roles were reversed in the Oscar-winning 1948 version of Hamlet, with 30-year-old Herlie playing Queen Gertrude, mother of 41-year-old Larry’s crown prince. The actress played Queen Gertrude once more on Broadway in 1964, opposite Richard Burton’s Hamlet, where she was seven whole years older than her onstage son.

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