These actors are forever young! Because so many of our favorite TV shows are set in high school, the stars are sometimes way older than the characters whom they play.

Ross Butler, for one, played the role of high school Zach Dempsey for all four seasons of 13 Reasons Why. While his character on the show was a total jock, Ross told Seventeen in May 2017 that the role was the complete opposite of his real-life high school experience.

“I wasn’t a jock at all in high school. I was kind of like this drifter who, because I’m half white and half Asian, I didn’t really fit in with the Asian crowd, and I didn’t really fit in with my white friends, or at least I didn’t feel like I did,” he explained at the time. “I was so self-conscious. I like to say I was a creature in high school. A weird creature who had my hands in a lot of different things.”

Amid his 13 Reasons Why role, Ross also played a teen in two of Netflix’s To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before movies. “It’s keeping me young mentally, which I’ve enjoyed, keeping the young, youthful energy,” Ross told Variety in February 2020.

When Paul Wesley first appeared on screen as Stefan Salvatore in The Vampire Diaries in 2009, he was way into his late 20s. Riverdale actress Ashleigh Murray was also way older than her character, Josie McCoy, when the show premiered in January 2017. But that didn’t matter, because she loved the role.

“I view this Josie as a reincarnation. It’s not so much that I’m trying to erase or undo what was already done, but present it to the public that way is a bit more palatable, and it’s a bit easier for people to connect to,” the actress told Teen Vogue of the role in June 2017. “It’s really important to be able to imitate life the way that we see it, so I’m so ready to open up people’s eyes and be like, ‘Look! This is everyday life, this is what it’s like, and this is how kids handle it, and this is how particularly kids from this background handle it!’ So, I want to be able to reach people in that manner so that there is no discomfort. They can ease right into it and be like, ‘Yeah, all right, this is cool. This is great.'”

Scroll through our gallery to see which actors were over 30 years old when they played teenagers in movies or on TV shows. 

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