Adult actors playing kids is an evergreen vehicle for comedy. Whether it's due to a body swap, absurd casting, or a child rapidly aging through magic, the classic story of a child wishing to be older, enjoying it at first, and then longing for their youth is a journey always filled with laughs. More so than that, though, it's an incredible feat for an actor to pull off (and no, this isn't including 20-something actors cast as teenagers, so CW shows need not apply for a position on this list).
Any actor playing a character engaged in a Freaky Friday flip is pulling off a Herculean task. These body swaps often occur in comedies, which never get lauded in the way they should, but Tom Hanks's portrayal of a child in an adult body in Big and Jamie Lee Curtis's mannerisms of Lindsay Lohan in Freaky Friday are incredible displays of the craft. These actors must make the audience believe they're an entirely different character in a body the character doesn't understand. That's not easy to pull off.
- Photo: Sony Pictures Releasing
Jack Black is a masterful actor, and Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle gave him a chance to remind the world of that fact. In the film, a group of high schoolers is transported inside a video game. While there, they don't look like themselves, though. Each high schooler takes on the appearance of their character's avatar. Bethany, the popular high school girl, played by Madison Iseman, takes on the form of a much older male professor named Sheldon Oberon. Sheldon Oberon happens to look a lot like Jack Black.
Jack Black perfectly mimics the mannerisms of a teenage girl throughout the film. From the very first moment Bethany discovers the body she'll be inhabiting throughout the game, Black nails it. With every single "Oh my god" or "Can't even" Black delivers, the audience perfectly believes they're watching Bethany.
- Photo: 20th Century Fox
Big is the quintessential child-in-adult-body film. In the film, a 12-year-old boy named Josh Baskin grows tired of being a kid, so he wishes to be big. When Josh wakes up the next day, he's no longer in the body of child actor David Moscow but is now a full-grown adult man (played by Tom Hanks).
Tom Hanks delivers one of the best performances of his career as a child stuck in an adult's body. Hanks's facial expressions alone fully sell the film. When he's scared of staying in the hotel room alone, the audience fully believes it. When he's enjoying playing with all of his toys and accidentally flirting with adult women, the audience fully buys into the innocence Hanks brings to the character.
- Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures
Shazam is undoubtedly one of the stranger superheroes in the DC Universe. Basically, whenever 14-year-old Billy Batson says the name of the wizard Shazam, he becomes Superman combined with that dude from Chuck. To put it with a bit less snark, Billy Batson has the ability to turn into a full-grown adult superhero played by Zachary Levi while keeping the mind of a teenager. This leads to some of the best comic book superhero humor outside of a Guardians of the Galaxy film.
The standout scene of the movie comes when Batson tests out his new powers. Levi is absolutely charming in the role, as he gleefully blows up his school textbooks with his newfound lightning powers. He convincingly reacts how any kid would, joyfully going viral on the internet.
- Photo: Buena Vista Pictures
Just as the teenage Anna Coleman has a little too much fun after body-swapping with her mother, Jamie Lee Curtis is clearly having a great time in this performance. In Freaky Friday, a rebellious teenager (played by Lindsay Lohan) switches places with her overbearing mother (Jamie Lee Curtis).
Curtis is incredible in the role. When the body-swapped duo visits the restaurant where the swap took place, Curtis's teenage rage is palpable. "You mean we're like stuck in this suckfest," she utters alongside a very funny "let's hit her!" You would think a teenager was actually playing Jamie Lee Curtis's part by how well she delivers her lines. That's to say nothing of her incredible guitar shredding in the film's finale.