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Neve Campbell, Jason Priestly and Matthew Fox: Going Back in Time

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On a recent Party of Five, 16-year-old Julia’s biggest dilemma was how to get her 12-year-old sister to stop flirting with her boyfriend, Griffin. At the same time, 22-year-old Neve Campbell’s biggest dilemma was finding time to shop for antiques for the two-bedroom L.A. home she shares with her husband, Jeff Colt. ”Julia’s dealing right now with her budding sexuality, since she’s about to lose her virginity,” says Campbell of her character. ”Without getting too personal, I wouldn’t say that’s a big problem for me right now.”

Campbell’s far from the only actor to have more savoir faire — and candles on the cake — than her character. In fact, it’s a grand old showbiz tradition: Judy Garland was 16 when she wore 12-year-old Dorothy’s ruby slippers in The Wizard of Oz. Why the discrepancy? Sometimes it’s those pesky child-labor laws (minors must limit their work hours, and as Campbell notes, ”producers like to work their actors, like, 14 hours a day”). Sometimes it’s simply that as actors get older, they get better (Macaulay Culkin and his ilk excepted). ”These are very complex characters,” says Meg Liberman, the casting director for Party of Five, ”and you have to have a wealth of experience to play them.” Herewith, a look at some of TV’s other generation gaps:

Character: Steve Sanders, Beverly Hills, 90210, 21* Actor: Ian Ziering, 31

Character: Brandon Walsh, Beverly Hills, 90210, 21* Actor: Jason Priestley, 26

Character: Bailey Salinger, Party of Five, 17 Actor: Scott Wolf, 27

Character: Charlie Salinger, Party of Five, 25 Actor: Matthew Fox, 29

Character: Dr. Michael Mancini, Melrose Place, 29 Actor: Thomas Calabro, 36

Character: Cody Lambert, Step by Step, 20* Actor: Sasha Mitchell, 28

Character: Phoebe Buffay, Friends, 25* Actor: Lisa Kudrow, 32

Character: Monica Geller, Friends, 25* Actor: Courteney Cox, 31

Character: Zoey Woodbine, Cybill, 17 Actor: Alicia Witt, 20

Character: Bart Simpson, The Simpsons, 10 Actor: Nancy Cartwright, 34

Character: Jerry Garcia Conner, Roseanne, 6 weeks Actor: Cole and Morgan Roberts, 8 months

*Estimated age

— Kristen Baldwin and A.J. Jacobs

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