In the the new Star Trek films of the past several years it seems the main characters - Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Uhura, Sulu, Chekov and perhaps other - are extremely young (edit: as far as I can tell by looking at them, and excluding Mr. Scott.). Some of them could well pass for under-aged teens.

Why is that? Are the popular culture critics right in that we are encouraged to worship youth and ignore or repress the reality of aging? i.e. in the same sense that the age of fashion models has gone down over the years? Or is there a more, shall we say, legitimate reason for this?

I'm asking because it interferes with my suspension of disbelief. It often feels as though these are not the real crew members.

  • 1
    "Some of them could well pass for under-aged teens." To whom? A blind man? The cast is in their 30s or older. This so-called "question" is nothing more than a baseless, ageist rant. – Lightness Races in Orbit Oct 24 '16 at 18:38
  • 5
    Could people not close this as “not about science fiction or fantasy”? It’s not necessarily such a great question, but it’s about relevant behind-the-scenes casting motivations. If there actually were a big age disparity, it would be upvote-worthy (and not certainly close-worthy). Close votes are not “super-downvotes.” – Adamant Oct 24 '16 at 18:54
  • 2
    @Adamant - I don't think it's about this scifi or fantasy. At best it's a rant about Hollywood that could apply to pretty much any rebooted film – Valorum Oct 24 '16 at 19:01
  • 2
    @Valorum - It’s fandom information, far more so than whether Tolkien could drive a car. – Adamant Oct 24 '16 at 19:03
  • 2
    Your perception is probably also in part due to the fact that people from earlier generations appear older to us even at the same age. Go take a look at a high school year book from the 80s or 60s. Those teenagers look way older than 16 or 17. I'm sure the same applies to the TOS actors. – Alarion Oct 24 '16 at 19:56

They’re not

  • Zachary Quinto, who plays Spock, is 39.

  • Zoe Saldana, who plays Uhura, is 38

  • John Cho, who plays Sulu, is 44.

  • Chris Pine, who plays Kirk, is 36.

  • Anton Yelchin, who played Chekhov, was 27 when he died earlier this year.

  • Simon Pegg, who plays Scotty, is 46

  • Karl Urban, who plays McCoy, is 44

As of the release of the Star Trek (2009) film, these actors were around 32, 31, 37, 29, 20, 39 and 37 respectively. The youngest actor, Yelchin, was was still not a teenager, and the next youngest was a whole decade away from being a teen of any description.

For comparison, the original series was about 50 years ago. So:

  • Leonard Nimoy, who played Spock, was 34.
  • Nichelle Nichols, who played Uhura, was 33.

  • George Takei, who played Sulu, was 29.

  • William Shatner, who played Kirk, was 35.

  • Walter Koenig, who played Chekhov, was 30.

  • James Doohan, who played Scotty, was 46

  • DeForest Kelley, who played McCoy, was 46

Are the ages of the characters as of Star Trek (2009) reasonable? Well, most of the characters are cadets in Starfleet Academy (albeit perhaps graduating ones):

“We have a crisis situation. We have received a distress call from Vulcan. Further details will be forthcoming, but as of this moment you are no longer cadets, you are Starfleet officers. I’m afraid that for this year’s class the usual graduation ceremonies will have to be postponed. Your official certifications will be placed in your files, which may be inspected at your leisure—once you are in space. I apologize in advance for any omissions. All complaints due to oversights will be duly reviewed. In any event, you will not have time to monitor their progress. Listen for your assignments. If you do not hear your name called, check with the nearest senior officer.”

Star Trek (2009)

So for them to be 37, say, actually seems a bit high. Chekhov is certainly on the low end, but he’s supposed to be a prodigy even in-universe:

McCoy wasn’t quite ready to accede to the strategy. “Now wait a goddamn minute! How old’s this kid?”

“I am seventeen.” Chekov sat up straighter in his seat. “How old are you, Doctor?”

Star Trek (2009)

It’s possible that people’s perceptions of the relative age of characters in Star Trek are being influenced by the phenomenon of Dawson Casting, in which older actors play younger characters, with high school students often being played by actors in their late twenties.

  • 1
    Karl Urban is 44 – Paulie_D Oct 24 '16 at 18:52
  • Everyone looks older with a 60s haircut and in 60s clothes. – PoloHoleSet Mar 8 '17 at 17:09

When evaluating whether the ages are reasonable or not, Adamant uses the standard of being starfleet cadets (and uses a quote) or just-graduating in trying to evaluate that.

What isn't mentioned in that answer is that the original series all portrayed the characters as full-fledged crew members and officers.

The later movies, with the characters being cadet-aged, would make them at an earlier point in their careers and younger than the characters in the series.

  • This just makes it weirder that, back in 2009 the actors were aged similarly to the TOS actors when the series started. And since the actors were already mature physically, they do not seem to have aged much since the 2009 films, and to me appear too young in, say, Star Trek Beyond. – einpoklum Mar 8 '17 at 19:20

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.