Recently I started re-watching Veronica Mars, arguably one of the best young adult television series ever created*. It’s a film noir-style private detective show, starring Kristen Bell as high school pariah Veronica Mars. My only complaint about the show (besides having a terrible third season and thus, getting cancelled) is that, while attempting to portray a high school junior, Kristen’s age sometimes shows too much.
Kristen Bell was 24 years old when the first season of Veronica Mars was filmed in 2004. In flashbacks to her freshman and sophomore years, director Rob Thomas dresses Kristen up in straight, long hair, apparently to make it clear this was another time in her life–before she went rogue and chopped it all off. She looks simply comical, like a grown woman in a wig (which, if I were to a hedge a guess, she is).
I mentioned in the podcast I did last week that I was a little bothered by how filled out Jennifer Lawrence was as Katniss in The Hunger Games. Considering Everdeen originates in the poor, starved District 12, it seemed odd to me that she would have that angelic puff in her cheeks and such bodacious curves.
Then, I had another thought: What teenage girl has such a grown-up body? I hit the ground running with puberty, picking up a fairly decent rack and a plump bum when I was in the thirteen-fourteen range, but nothing like what I’d get when I got to college. As it turns out, Jennifer Lawrence was nearly twenty-one when The Hunger Games was filmed–and it shows. (Let’s not even get into the age mis-casting of 22-year-old Liam Hemsworth and 20-year-old Josh Hutcherson, who play Gale and Peeta respectively.)
There is one particular shot I remember from the film, around the time Katniss shows off her skill with a bow to the game-makers, where Jennifer is decked out in a skin-tight, form-hugging black jumpsuit–I just didn’t believe it. She walked with such grace and poise in that totally smokin’ bod, something was fishy. I don’t know a single sixteen-year-old that comfortable in their own skin.
So what’s the problem? Why aren’t Hollywood casting directors casting high schoolers to play high school parts? Do they really think us so gullible that we won’t notice a 21-year-old Alex Pettyfer is much older than the fifteen-year-old character he’s supposed to be playing in I Am Number Four**?
I can’t imagine there’s a lack of high school-aged talent in Los Angeles. Is the issue with actors under the age of eighteen? Is talent simply not refined enough by age fifteen or sixteen to be qualified for film?
Either way, Hollywood, I’m not convinced. Try harder.
*Actually, Veronica Mars is the best. Ever. In my humble opinion.
**Worst book-to-movie adaptation I have ever seen. Don’t even bother.