10 Actors Who Are Much Shorter Than They Look on Camera

Movie magic makes us see many amazing things. It suspends our disbelief to get us to watch stories about aliens, superheroes, and wizards. Thanks to costumes, makeup, and CGI movies can make any actor completely unrecognizable like in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. But we forget that it also tricks us into believing strange things, including the idea that every actor is tall.

Perhaps it’s because we watch them do their work on large screens. But it also could be because directors purposely have made certain short actors appear taller. So which actors are actually much shorter than they look on camera? These 10 look pretty different in real life.

1. Tom Cruise

Tom Cruise one of many short actors

Oprah Winfrey and Tom Cruise | PETER WYNN THOMPSON/AFP/Getty Images

Everyone knows that the action star is considered short. He is 5’7″ but in his movies he is carefully posed to be taller than his much taller co-stars like Cameron Diaz, who is 5’9,” and Nicole Kidman, who is 5’11”. This can be achieved just through the perspective of how the scene is shot, shoe lifts, or also using a box.

The actor is interesting because he is still very successful, and audiences know they are being tricked about his height. There was backlash for him being casted as Jack Reacher who is written in Lee Child’s book to be 6’5″. According to The Sydney Morning Herald, devoted fans were threatening to boycott the movie. However, the movie was successful and got a sequel. In the movie they still did their tricks to make the lead actor look as tall as his 5’9″ co-star, Rosamund Pike.

2. Gillian Anderson

Source: FOX

The X-Files | Source: FOX

The actress plays some powerful characters on screen, most notably the character of Dana Scully on The X-Files. But what some fans probably don’t know is that she is 5’3″. This actually worked against the show because there was a 10-inch difference between her and her co-star, David Duchovny. So how exactly did they fix this?

The actress had to stand on an apple box or a wooden box so she can be in frame with her co-star. Some have later referred to this as the Scully Box. The actress also talked about it in interviews.

“I don’t have to stand on a box,” the actress told US Magazine. “Sometimes when we’re in a situation walking side by side, like up to a door to pull out our badges and say we’re from the FBI, I have to step up onto something so that we’re on the same level. I mean, I don’t walk on boxes or have boxes attached to my feet. It’s funny: Sometimes I forget I’m on the box. Like, I’ll have this very serious moment in a very serious scene and I’ll turn to the camera and fall right off the box.”

3. Dave Franco

Dave Franco - 21 Jump Street

21 Jump Street | Source: Sony

The actor is rather handsome and can do comedy and action. None of his movies, however, focus on the fact that he happens to be pretty short. He is shorter than his Neighbors’ co-star, Zac Efron (who also makes this list) and is 5’7″ tall. His older brother (James Franco) also towers over him at 5’11”.

4. Josh Hutcherson

The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire | Source: Lionsgate

The actor was part of the main love triangle of The Hunger Games saga as Peeta. But what a lot of fans probably don’t know is that he is shorter off screen. The actor is 5’7″ but looks as tall as Katniss played by Jennifer Lawrence. This is an illusion since she is 5’9″ and looks almost a head taller than him on the red carpet.

The actor has a sense of humor about it all, though. After accepting his MTV Movie Award from 5’10” tall presenter Kate Upton, he joked, “They’re all so tall. Me and Kate would never work. That would be hard.” Maybe in real life but not on screen!

5. Mark Wahlberg

Mark Wahlberg

Kevin Winter/Getty Images

The action star is pretty bulky, so his presence on screen might feel big. But he actually comes to 5’8″ tall. Most of the time this isn’t noticeable on screen. We are supposed to feel like he is a powerhouse that can take anyone on. There is an exception with Pain & Gain, where co-stars Dwayne Johnson and Anthony Mackie towered over him. However, the actor is usually paired with actresses who are shorter than him.

6. Vanessa Hudgens

Vanessa Hudgens

Vanessa Hudgens | Stewart F. House/Getty Images

The actress knows how to give a big performance on screen with her dance moves, singing, and acting. But you probably don’t know that she is only 5’1″ tall. It’s common for women to be shorter than men, but it is kind of shocking once you come across red carpet photos of her next to much taller actors.

7. Daniel Radcliffe

Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images

Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images

He will always be known as the powerful Harry Potter. Given the grand power of the character, many fans probably forget how short the actor is. The series is one of the few that didn’t bother to hide their lead actor being 5’5″. He is just as tall as Emma Watson so he doesn’t stand out, but you can see Rupert Grint and other characters are much taller than him in many frames. The actor knows his height sometimes holds him back in his character.

“‘Can you play a really f—ing tall person?’ No, obviously not,” the actor told Playboy. “Can I play a black guy? For similar reasons, no. I couldn’t play something I wouldn’t take myself seriously in. I wouldn’t be able to take myself seriously as the quarterback in a football movie, which is my one legitimate gripe. I would love to be in a football movie. The only part I would get is the general manager.”

8. Zac Efron

Zac Efron

Zac Efron| Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

He’s killing it in comedy with his abs and good line reading. Since he has a huge fan base with women, it might be surprising that he isn’t as tall as you would assume. The actor is 5’9″ and his height has pretty much been unnoticeable because he is paired with female co-stars that are just as tall as him or shorter.

However, it does stand out in Neighbors when he is standing next to Seth Rogen, who is 5’11”. Despite his shorter stature, Efron is believable as an action star.

9. Anna Kendrick

anna-kendrick-pitch-perfect-650-430.jpg

Pitch Perfect | Source: Brownstone Productions (III)

She’s talented and funny, but many fans probably wouldn’t notice her height right away. She’s actually 5’2″, which doesn’t stand out as much on screen as it does off. Despite that, Kendrick has been able to embrace her height over time.

“I was angsty about my height when I was younger, but I love it now,” she told Esquire. “Why wouldn’t you want to be a little compact being?” She then continued, “I used to think that guys preferred tall women, but plenty of them like short girls. Tall girls, short girls … just any girls, you know?”

10. Robbie Coltrane

Harry Potter

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone | Source: Warner Bros.

You know him as Hagrid from the Harry Potter saga who is half giant and therefore really tall. However there was still a trick to make him appear larger on screen than he is in real life. The actor is 6’4″ and therefore not short by the normal definition. But he is shorter than he appears to be in the movies due to a double.

Tanya Seghatchian, a co-producer of the movies, let the secret slip at the Guardian Hay festival saying, “There were two Hagrids and two sets. One Hagrid was big, one small.” Coltrane happens to be the small one and is the only one credited for the role.

Follow Nicole Weaver on Twitter @nikkibernice

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