A funny thing happens in Hollywood: as male actors get older, their female co-stars stay the same age. Sounds a lot like that famous line spoken by Wooderson (Matthew McConaughey) in Dazed and Confused, “That's what I love about these high school girls, man. I get older, they stay the same age.” It may sound disturbing, but it’s true. In fact, Hollywood is littered with movies that feature onscreen couples that could be father and daughter in real life.
May-December romances on film are nothing new. They've been going on since the beginning of cinema. What we've discovered is that age difference only matters to audiences if the coupling is awkward and creepy. If it doesn't affect the romantic chemistry, though, moviegoers are unlikely to even notice a substantial age gap.
It’s a fact that male film stars are often cast as romantic leads well into 50s and 60s, while female actresses rarely get main roles (especially not romantic leads) after the age of 40. So while Johnny Depp, Tom Cruise, and Liam Neeson continue to lead films, we’re seeing them guys paired with actresses like Amber Heard, Emily Blunt, and January Jones. Those same men used to star in films with Winona Ryder, Renée Zellweger, and Jessica Lange. But those actresses are considered too old for those guys despite being roughly the same age.The biggest age gaps of some of the on screen couples on this list may prove shocking. All of the pairings below have at least a 20 year age gap, and as the list progresses, the age gap gets bigger. One thing to note is that the list features films where age is not necessarily part of the plot, in fact, in most of these movies, the tremendous age difference is never even brought up.
Tom Cruise And Emily Blunt
Edge of Tomorrow (2014)
Ages at time of filming: Tom Cruise: 51, Emily Blunt: 31
Age Difference: 20 years
Cage (Tom Cruise) doesn't have a whole lot of time for romance in the underrated sci-fi film Edge of Tomorrow because he is pretty busy playing Groundhog Day in order to figure out how to save the world. However, there is plenty of sexual tension between Cage and Rita (Emily Blunt) as she tries to train him to fight aliens, even if that means she has to continually kill him in order to reset the day. She may be younger, but he spends most of their time together under her tutelage.
Paul Bettany and Elizabeth OlsenPhoto: The Avengers: Infinity War
Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)—WandaVision (2021)
Ages at time of filming: Paul Bettany: 43, Elizabeth Olsen: 25
Age Difference: 18 years
Vision first literally swept Scarlet Witch off her feet in 2015's Age of Ultron, and by 2018's Infinity War, they were having a full-on secret romance. Nevermind that, despite being an android, Vision clearly has forehead wrinkles even deeper than his voice. The age difference between the actors became all the more apparent in WandaVision (2021). Paul Bettany appears out of red makeup and in his own Brit-pale 40-something skin, while Elizabeth Olsen looks like she could pass for a recent graduate—from high school.
James Stewart And Grace Kelly
Rear Window (1954)
Ages at time of filming: James Stewart: 46, Grace Kelly: 25
Age Difference: 21 years
Hitchcock selects Grace Kelly to be his token blonde beauty and pairs her with his go-to actor James Stewart. Rear Window is not about romance, it's a film about voyeurism and witnessing a crime. It's a good thing because Stewart and Kelly share little sexual chemistry in the movie. That could be by design: Jeff (Stewart) does not want to get married and Lisa (Kelly) does. Plus, Stewart just looks like Kelly's father in the film. She's young and stunningly gorgeous, and he's aging, looking less like Mr. Smith with every movie.
Johnny Depp And Amber Heard
The Rum Diary (2011)
Ages at time of filming: Johnny Depp: 48, Amber Heard: 25
Age Difference: 23 years
Johnny Depp loves Hunter S. Thompson. The actor was instrumental in adapting his novel The Rum Diary to the silver screen in 2011. Although the film was a critical and box office bust, it did give Depp the opportunity to meet his future wife Amber Heard. For most of the film, Paul Kemp (Depp) and Chenault (Heard) resist the temptation to hook up, because she is involved with Kemp's business partner. However, they do share a very steamy love scene and their chemistry is electric.