The silver screen makes everyone seem larger-than-life. For these actors, that process is very literal.
Here are some of the shortest leading men in Hollywood — and some of the wildest ways they’ve hid their height. Which of these actors successfully fooled you?
How integral is Tom Cruise’s height to his mystique? When a reporter asked Nicole Kidman, his famous ex-wife, what life was like after their divorce, Kidman quipped that she could “wear heels now.” Cruise stands at 5’7”, but regularly uses tricks to appear taller than his objectively taller costars.
In movies like Oblivion, Knight and Day, and the Mission: Impossible franchise, you will regularly see Cruise tower over his costars — even though Cruise is shorter than Olga Kurylenko, Cameron Diaz, and Ving Rhames, respectively. He and his filmmakers use forced perspective and even platform shoes.
Vin Diesel has claimed he’s over six feet. And his onscreen characters have matched that bravado, from the intimidating Fast & Furious center Dominic Toretto, to big ol’ tree-monster Groot, to, well, The Iron Giant.
But in actuality, Diesel stands less than six feet. And he’s oft-spotted wearing high, high shoes.
By contrast, Diesel’s Fast & Furious partner/rival Dwayne Johnson stands at a robust 6’5”. Could this macho height disparity be at the center of their falling out? We wouldn’t dare speculate.
At least when Diesel plays Dungeons & Dragons, which he does often, he can be whatever height he wants.
When acclaimed screenwriter William Goldman (The Princess Bride, All the President’s Men) saw Sylvester Stallone at a swanky Hollywood swimming pool, he described the action star as “67 inches (5-feet-7), dripping wet.” That, friends, is not as tall as he seems on screen.
Even a Google search of Stallone’s height ups the scale to 5’10”. But if we’re being honest, we trust the eyes of Goldman over the algorithm of Google. For all the controversy 2019’s Rambo: Last Blood is gathering, more needs to be paid attention about these height lies!
Finally: A leading man transparent about his height.
When Kevin Hart was paired with Dwayne Johnson for Central Intelligence, Hart didn’t insist on framing shots to look on the level. His vertical limit was used in the movie’s tagline: “Saving the world takes a little Hart and a big Johnson.”
At 5’4”, Hart knows how the world sees him, and is 54 steps ahead of any joke you could make. The “something to prove” attitude he puts on is a huge part of his screen appeal. When Oprah Winfrey asked him about his height, he said, simply, “I’m beyond confident.”
Now, it’s an established fact: Al Pacino is one of our greatest actors, and his work in The Godfather is one of our greatest screen performances. But did you know he almost lost the role?
The producers of The Godfather — we swear this is real — thought Pacino was too short.
Pacino stands at 5’7”. And the producers, including notably insane Hollywood legend Robert Evans, wanted a taller, more traditionally handsome thespian for the role. Someone like Robert Redford (who’s only 5’10”, for goodness sake). Thankfully, Francis Ford Coppola stuck to his perfectly-sized guns.
“Here’s looking at you, kid.” The instantly iconic line, ad libbed by Humphrey Bogart during an off-screen poker game, told brilliantly to Ingrid Bergman in Casablanca.
There’s just one problem with the otherwise peerless piece of poetry. To look directly at Bergman, Bogart needed to look… up.
Bogart tops out at a cool 5’8”. And Bergman is two inches taller than him. So, to properly depict the very classical gender constructions of Hollywood at that time (and, as we’re seeing, to this day), director Michael Curtiz had Bogart stand on blocks and sit on cushions.
Don’t believe that Dave Franco is shorter than your average Franco? Let him do the talking: “I’m a small shifty kind of guy.” Despite — or because of — his small shiftiness, Franco has memorably appeared in all kinds of acclaimed work, from the underrated Neighbors franchise to The Disaster Artist.
At the beginning of his career, the 5’7” Franco often played younger than he actually was, given his youthful appearance. Most would love to look younger than they are. But for Franco, who grew weary of being an onscreen high schooler, “sometimes I just want to look 27.”
From the mid-2000s zeitgeist of Superbad, to the mid-90s zeitgeist of, well, Mid90s, Jonah Hill’s choices in material typify the unprecedentedly diverse path his career has taken. We’d wager that part of Hill’s comedic (and, at least partially, dramatic) panache comes from the gulf in his demeanor and height.
In some ways, it’s a classic Napoleon complex thing. Hill is 5’7”, aka “Hollywood short.” Thus, when his characters erupt in anger or abruptly vulnerable emotion, we find it funny and compelling, rather than scary. Interestingly, Hill got his first Oscar nod for a more subdued role in Moneyball.
“I’m 5-foot-7, and I’ve got pasty white skin. I don’t think I’m ugly, don’t get me wrong, but I’m not your classic lead man, Brad Pitt guy.” That’s James McAvoy at an event for his sweeping romance epic Atonement.
And, like, McAvoy: Be a little kinder to yourself, would you?
No one would ever call McAvoy anything but an appealingly handsome leading man, no matter his height. Even when he’s leading offbeat genre work like Split, X-Men: Days of Future Past, or It Chapter Two, we can’t help but look at the guy in Pitt-esque awe.
While his reputation has since been tarnished by allegations of pervasive misconduct, Dustin Hoffman was regarded as one of our greatest actors, from Tootsie to The Meyerowitz Stories (and Hook in between). It may surprise you to learn that the iconic method actor stands at only 5’6”.
In discussing The Graduate, Mike Nichols’ 1967 culture-definer, Hoffman was open in his director’s unorthodox decision: “Nichols chose to give this short, funny-looking Jewish guy the role usually reserved for a tall, handsome protestant.” To paraphrase Simon & Garfunkel, he is just a short boy, though his story’s seldom told.
In the Golden Age of Hollywood, if you needed a reliable actor, you hired Alan Ladd. His performance in Shane, alongside his irresistible pairings with Veronica Lake, solidified his reputation as a stalwart. But Ladd only had one real question for potential projects: Is the costar short enough?
While Ladd considered himself 5’7”, most scholars put him an inch shorter. That’s why he made so many movies with Lake — she was only 4’11”. On other movies, like Boy on a Dolphin with Sophia Loren, complicated ramp systems were enacted to make the stars seem on equal footing.
We watched him grow up before our eyes. Even if he didn’t physically grow up too much.
Daniel Radcliffe burst onto the scene as that dang wizard Harry Potter, before turning to more eclectic fare as an adult. He’s only 5’5” now, but that hasn’t dampened his enthusiasm.
In an interview, Radcliffe namechecked and joked about two other short actors: “Dustin Hoffman and Tom Cruise have very different careers, and they’re both about the same height as I am. I could play a soldier. The minimum height for a marine is five feet, and I’m well above that.”
If you’ve enjoyed a comedy in the past 30 years, chances are Seth Green had something to do with it. He was Dr. Evil’s son in the Austin Powers series, Peter Griffin’s son in Family Guy, and father to a lot of stop-motion sons as the co-creator of Robot Chicken.
Green stands at a slight 5’4”, quite shorter than his wife Clare Grant. In 2019, he wrote, directed, and starred in Changeland, a dramedy about friends going through a crisis while traveling in Thailand. And as a child actor, he appeared in tons of commercials delivering bonkers, Gen-X catchphrases.
From Martin Scorsese’s crime epics to Macaulay Culkin’s crime epics (yeah, we’re calling the Home Alone franchise “crime epics,” get over it!), Joe Pesci has been there to scream and bluster in his inimitable way. He is earnestly intimidating, even at a 5’4” frame.
In 1999, one year after appearing in Lethal Weapon 4, Pesci announced that he was retiring from acting. Since then, he has only appeared on screen in select roles, including Robert De Niro’s The Good Shepherd, Love Ranch with Helen Mirren, and his old buddy Scorsese’s The Irishman.
For Hollywood luminary Charlie Chaplin, his height was a help, rather than a hindrance. Standing at a conservative 5’5”, he proved that The Little Tramp was more than just an effective nickname. He was truly little. And he played it for all it was worth.
In explaining the theories behind his onscreen comedy, Chaplin said, “If I am being treated harshly, it is always a big man who is doing it; so that, by the contrast between the big and the little, I get the sympathy of the audience.” Smart and silly!
“People say I’m wearing heels because I’m short. I wear heels because the women like ’em.” With that perfect epigram, the 5’3” Prince (born Prince Rogers Nelson; at one point just a symbol) owned his height and perfected his mysterious, charged image.
Beyond his eternal bangers like “1999” and “Kiss,” Prince brought himself fully to cult classics like Purple Rain and Under the Cherry Moon. Contemporary stars so eager to obscure their true height have a lot to learn from the purple king.
One of Hollywood’s only leading men who’s recognizable via “rock and roll gibberish,” Jack Black has been a perfect clown on the big screen, small screen, and on Tenacious D records for decades. The School of Rock headmaster is only 5’6”, but he commands his roles regardless.
Despite being such a perfect comedy performer, Black has known his share of darkness. In high school, he dealt with a cocaine addiction and hung out with troubled folks who “wanted to kill me.” He credits finding a therapist as turning his life around.
Michael J. Fox
Tallness? Where we’re going, we don’t need tallness.
Michael J. Fox, of ‘80s classics like Back to the Future, is 5’4”, the perfect size for his endearingly charming characters. He proved in Teen Wolf that you don’t have to be tall to dunk. You just have to… be a werewolf.
While shooting Doc Hollywood in 1991, Fox started showing symptoms of early-onset Parkinson’s disease, and was formally diagnosed a year later. The diagnosis initially sunk Fox into an alcohol-fueled depression, but he later sought treatment and founded an organization to fight the disease.
He stars on The Big Bang Theory. He’s one of the biggest paid TV stars in Hollywood. But Johnny Galecki is anything but big. He’s 5’5”, one inch shorter than his onscreen (and sometimes offscreen) beau Kaley Cuoco. Jim Parsons, conversely, is 6’1”.
Galecki started as a child actor, appearing in notable works like National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation and Roseanne (Galecki reprised his David Healy role as an adult in the short-lived revival). Galecki helped found a UCLA Scholarship Fund for STEM in cooperation with The Big Bang Theory.
“What is this, a center for ants?” With this assumption, Derek Zoolander solidified himself as a male model who is really, really, ridiculously good looking, sure — but not so smart. His creator? Ben Stiller, acclaimed writer, director, actor, and comedian. He stands at 5’7” — not exactly ant level, but still.
Stiller directed Tropic Thunder, featuring both the 5’6” Jack Black and the 5’7” Tom Cruise. When he pitched Kirk Lazarus, the white actor who plays a black character in the film-within-a-film to Robert Downey Jr., Downey called it “the stupidest idea I’ve ever heard!”
Stiller’s response: “Yeah — isn’t it great?”
Remember when we said Jack Black was one of the only leading men recognizable through “rock and roll gibberish”? Tom Hardy might make that list, too.
From The Dark Knight Rises to Venom, the eccentric Brit never met a role he didn’t want to throw an eccentric accent at.
Hardy is 5’9”. Christian Bale, his foil in TDKR, is six feet even. But Hardy’s Bane is supposed to physically tower over Bale’s Batman. So, production had to put lifts into Bane’s shoes to make the illusion work. Hardy also gained 30 pounds of muscle.
No, Elijah Wood is not Hobbit-short. The Lord of the Rings trilogy dramatically shortened its actors using trick photography and forced perspective. But Wood, in real life, stands only at 5’6”. Not to say that he wouldn’t absolutely dominate on a Hobbit basketball league.
Since appearing in the revolutionary LOTR trilogy (not to overlook Wood’s work as a child actor; The Good Son still slaps), Wood’s career has taken an eclectic, often dark turn. He’s revealed himself as a horror-head, co-founding genre production company SpectreVision and starring in nasties like Maniac (2012).
No, Martin Freeman is not Hobbit-short, either. He played the titular Hobbit in Peter Jackson’s follow-up Middle Earth trilogy, again, with the help of visual effects. But Freeman is only one inch taller than Wood, at 5’7”. This might explain the type of roles Freeman tends to play.
In Sherlock, Freeman plays a put-upon military-doctor-turned sidekick whom Sherlock doesn’t respect. In season one of Fargo, Freeman plays a put-upon salesman-turned-murderer whom no one respects. And in the MCU (most notably Black Panther), he plays a put-upon CIA-agent-turned-sidekick whom no one respects.
Someone respect this average-sized actor, please!
Robert Downey Jr.
Gwyneth Paltrow did an Iron Man 3 interview, and was asked a pleasant-enough question: What’s something we don’t know about Robert Downey Jr.? Paltrow… eviscerated him: “He doesn’t like me to wear high heels around him, because he doesn’t want me to be taller than him, ‘cause he’s Iron Man!”
Downey is 5’9”, shorter than most of his MCU co-stars. So for his Iron Man appearances (and other flicks like his Sherlock Holmes franchise), he often wears lifts or other apparatuses in his shoes. Paltrow is, funnily enough, the exact same height as him.
In other words… he got Gooped.
Hollywood figured it out. If you want to put your shorter leading man in an “unorthodox action movie,” make sure Dwayne Johnson is his costar. It worked for Kevin Hart, it worked (briefly) for Vin Diesel, and in Michael Bay’s Pain & Gain, it worked for Mark Wahlberg.
Wahlberg is 5’8” of blustering, Boston bravado. And when he’s not using his particular vibe in critically acclaimed movies like The Departed or The Fighter, he’s helping run a chain restaurant called Wahlburgers with his brothers Donnie and Paul — who are, it should be said, taller than him.
On the successful Hawaii Five-0 reboot, Scott Caan and Alex O’Loughlin solve crimes together amidst a lush, tropical background. Their chemistry is as palpable as their heights are different: the 6’1” O’Loughlin simply towers over the 5’5” Caan. Does this add to their light, comedic bantering? Who can say.
The son of famed actor James “5’9”” Caan, Scott was introduced to the world as a hip-hop artist. Alongside famed hip-hop producer The Alchemist, Caan rapped as Mad Skillz in the group The Whooliganz. After their singles weren’t as successful as desired, Caan transitioned to acting.
We’re all in this together. By “this,” we mean, “making Zac Efron feel better about his 5’8” height.”
From his earnest performance in High School Musical to his shockingly funny and vulnerable performance in the Neighbors franchise (co-starring the 5’7” Dave Franco), Efron proves big things come in small packages.
In the big-screen Baywatch adaptation, Efron once again proves the “shorter male actor in strange action movie The Rock” hypothesis. But in The Greatest Showman, Efron co-starred opposite Zendaya. Who stands at 5’10”, and often wears heels. Still, none of this has stopped Efron’s Hollywood euphoria.
Josh Hutcherson is 5’7”. Jennifer Lawrence is 5’9”. The two of them starred as love interests together in the Hunger Games franchise. And Hutcherson thought about their height difference the entire time, saying in an interview, “I’m really insecure about my height. I’m not a very tall guy.”
Since breaking out as Peeta in the Hunger Games, Hutcherson has taken a more hands-on approach to his work. He stars in and executive produces the bonkers Hulu action-comedy Future Man, and has produced other low-budget genre flicks from first-time directors.
Here it is. The pièce de résistance of our “offbeat action movie needs a shorter man to star opposite Dwayne Johnson” theory. Jason Statham, at 5’10”, stars in Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw opposite Johnson. And their big-screen epic is jam-packed with explosions, set pieces, and odd-couple bantering.
Statham’s prominence in highly physical action flicks makes sense, given his background. He was a proper, professional athlete, playing football (AKA American soccer) as a kid and joining the national British diving team. Statham also advocates for a stunt category at the Academy Awards.
If we had to describe Tom Holland’s performance as Spider-Man in the MCU (er, now the SSMCU? Sony Spider-Man Cinematic Universe? We’ll workshop it), we would simply say, “Aw shucks.” Holland drips with endearing charm and moxie, using his 5’7” frame to his movie-star-in-the-making advantage.
Holland co-stars with the 5’10” Zendaya in his Spider-Man movies. But in an interview, he made himself the same height: “You have to give a brief summary of who you are and say how tall you are. Every actor lies so I told them I am five foot ten!”
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Let’s count down the richest living actors and actresses. We bet you’ll be shocked at how much some of them are worth.
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Here are the worst performances from 30 otherwise incredible actors. You know what? Everyone makes mistakes!
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Some of the most famous movies of all time were grueling experiences for the cast and crew. Read on to see which of your favorite movies were a total nightmare behind-the-scenes.