Hollywood Actors Who Are Shorter Than They Appear On-Screen
Height doesn't mean much when it comes to star power.
The average height for men in the United States is 5 feet 9 inches tall. But many of Hollywood’s leading men are shorter than average, which proves height isn’t a barrier to success when it comes to starring on the silver screen.
While their on-screen presence may be huge, these guys are among the shortest actors in Hollywood.
Known for his gangster roles and his explosive acting style, Al Pacino, who is 5 feet 7 inches tall, has had a prolific career.
But his short stature almost cost him his role in “The Godfather.” During a Tribeca film festival discussion in 2017, “The Godfather” cast reunited, and it was revealed that Paramount producers thought Pacino was “too short” for the role and wanted a Robert Redford-type, according to Entertainment Weekly. Director Francis Ford Coppola was in Pacino’s corner, though.
“Parks and Recreation” alum and comedian Aziz Ansari is 5 feet 6 inches tall.
A few years ago, GQ magazine applauded Ansari for outdressing Jon Hamm (who you know as Don Draper on “Mad Men”), declaring it a “win for short men worldwide.” Both men donned dark blue suits, but GQ took note of how well-tailored Ansari was, saying it was a “great example of how sometimes the clothes you’re wearing can kick the (expletive) of a man almost a foot taller than you.”
To be fair, Hamm is listed as being 6 feet 2 inches tall, so it’s a bit of a stretch to declare him a whole foot taller than Ansari. And another footnote: We’re skeptical about the correlation between height and style.
In an interview with CBS Sunday Morning, actor Danny DeVito discussed being short, saying when he was in school, he wanted to be comfortable and have friends and would try to compensate for his short height with his big personality. It was mostly awkward at school dances, he said in the interview. (Perhaps the high school senior who took a cardboard cutout of him to her prom made up for it?)
The Emmy-awarding winning actor who starred in “Taxi” and is now a fan favorite in “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” is under 5 feet tall. DeVito has multiple epiphyseal dysplasia, also known as Fairbank’s disease, which is a genetic disorder that impacts bone growth.
“Harry Potter” star Daniel Radcliffe doesn’t think his height is holding him back in Hollywood. During an interview with Playboy, the 5-feet-5-inches-tall actor was asked if his size limits the roles he plays. He responded: “I don’t think so. 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.”
He went on to quip that if he were cast in a football movie, it would be as a general manager, not the quarterback.
Funnyman Ken Jeong, who’s had roles in “Community” and “The Hangover,” is 5 feet 5 inches tall. Perhaps more fascinating than his height, though? The comedian has a medical degree and was a general practitioner before switching to acting. His breakout role was as a doctor in the comedy “Knocked Up.” In fact, he took a week off from his real doctor job so he could star as a doctor.
In a segment with Conan O’Brien, “Lord of the Rings” star Elijah Wood revealed that he is often mistaken for “Harry Potter” actor Daniel Radcliffe. The blue-eyed actors are similar in height, but Wood, at 5 feet 6 inches tall, has an inch on Radcliffe.
Michael J. Fox
At 5 feet, 4 inches tall, Michael J. Fox is among the shortest men in Hollywood. But what’s more noteworthy: The award-winning “Back to the Future” and “Family Ties” star has been recognized for his advocacy surrounding Parkinson’s Disease. The neurological disorder causes trembles, stiffness and balance issues.
Fox was diagnosed with Parkinson’s at age 29 and, in 2000, launched a foundation that has raised close to $1 billion for research and also brought more general awareness of the condition. In an interview with People, Fox said he believes researchers are getting close to being able to stop the progression of the disease.
Conversations surrounding comedian Jonah Hill’s weight loss have been more of a topic than his height.
Hill, who is 5 feet, 7 inches tall, has credited past weight loss success to meeting with a nutritionist and cleaning up his diet. His “Jump Street” co-star Channing Tatum gave him some pretty simple weight loss advice: Eat less and work out with a trainer, according to an interview Hill did with Jimmy Fallon.
But the best part of the exchange between Hill and Fallon? The “Superbad” star divulged during his late-night appearance that he mistakenly emailed singer Drake his daily food diary instead of sending it to his nutritionist. Oops! Another tidbit about Jonah Hill: His birth name was actually Jonah Feldstein. (These are the surprising “real names” of 34 more celebrities.)
Height hasn’t come up much in interviews with British actor Martin Freeman, though the Daily Mail reported he’s 5 feet 6 1/2 inches tall. However, there is a quote that gets circulated by blogs and on social media about him not being overwhelmed with size, saying just because something is big, doesn’t mean it’s better. In the expletive-laden quote that’s been meme-ified, he quips that he stars in the “The Hobbit” for a reason. We weren’t able to track down the full quote for confirmation, but this YouTube clip (careful, there’s an F-bomb in it) appears to be a truncated version, where he says “There’s no denying, however, I’m in the (expletive) Hobbit.”
A small stature was an advantage for actor Charlie Chaplin during the silent film era. At 5 feet 4 inches tall, Chaplin’s most famous role was in “The Tramp,” where he played a sweet man in a bowler hat, with a slick black mustache and a cane.
Being small helped with contrast, which is key to comedy, according to his obituary in The New York Times that included some of the observations he made over the years. The Times reported that he had 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.”
Leave it to self-deprecating comedian Kevin Hart to crack jokes about his height. In a “Variety” video, the “Night School” actor says: “Hey, what’s going on, I’m Kevin Hart, and one thing you may not know about me is … I’m 5 foot 4-1/2. A lot of people think it’s just 5-4. It’s not. Five-foot-four-and-a-half.”
Perhaps the video was a response to the Vulture infographic about height in Hollywood that put Hart at 5 feet 2 inches tall.
Jack Black played a giant in “Gulliver’s Travels.” But in real life, the actor is 5 feet 7 inches tall. In an interview published on Classy Mommy, Black said he played with a lot of toys to prepare for the “giant and tiny person relationships” in that role. As a dad, he had plenty of toys at home.
Seth Green and his wife, model-actress Clare Grant, bonded over a shared love of comics and fast food when they first met, according to People. Their height discrepancy? It’s no big deal. Green, an actor and voice artist who you might recognize from “Robot Chicken” or “Family Guy,” is 5 feet 4 inches tall, which is a few inches shorter than his wife.
“Now You See Me” actor Dave Franco measures in at about 5 feet 7 inches tall — significantly shorter than his older brother James Franco, who is 5 feet 11 inches tall.
Dave starred in “Warm Bodies,” a 2013 zombie drama, and when an MTV interviewer asked him how he would fare if the undead took over the world, his response was a fun one: “I’m a small shifty kind of guy, I think I would be up in the hills … shooting from above, while the big guys are going at it from below.” He went on to say that he’s played sports his whole life, so he’d be a good asset to humans.
Johnny Galecki, who plays a physicist in “The Big Bang Theory,” is 5 feet 5 inches tall. While he hasn’t been widely quoted on the topic of height, he does think the image of geeks is changing. Geeks, he said in an interview with The New York Times Arts Beat blog, are akin to modern-day rock stars.
“We have Nobel Prize winners asking if they can guest-star on the show,” he said. “The image of a scientist in the last 10 to 15 years has changed drastically. It used to be pasty guys in a basement with beakers and now it’s Steve Jobs — they’re almost the rock stars of our age.”
Joe Pesci is known for his “tough guy” roles, proving you don’t need to be tall to be intimidating. Pesci is 5 feet 4 inches tall. He’s known for his roles in “Home Alone,” “My Cousin Vinnie,” “Casino” and “Goodfellas” — for which he won an Oscar and gave what must have been one of the shortest acceptance speeches ever.
Once asked his thoughts on sports, producer-director-actor Martin Scorsese replied: “Sports?” Anything with a ball, no good!”
At 5 feet, 3 inches tall, it’s not likely the “Goodfellas” director would have ever been a starting forward on the basketball court. Today, he’s one of the most influential directors in Hollywood. The Academy Award winner has also dabbled in acting, with appearances on “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and “30 Rock.”
Tom Cruise is allegedly 5 feet 7 inches tall. We use the word “allegedly” because there’s actually a lot of speculation about the “Top Gun” star’s height, with numerous discussion boards and blogs on the topic trying to prove he’s closer to 5 feet 5 inches tall. (If you want to go down that rabbit hole, here’s a Pinterest board that zeroes in on times he’s worn heeled boots or shoe lifts to possibly make himself appear taller.)
In other Cruise news, the actor is currently filming “Top Gun 2” alongside Val Kilmer (who is 6 feet tall), and the movie is set to be released in 2020.
Jonathan Taylor Thomas
Jonathan Taylor Thomas played middle son Randy on the sitcom “Home Improvement” and was quite the teen heartthrob in the ’90s. After the show ended, he’s appeared in television shows such as “Veronica Mars” and “Last Man Standing,” and voiced Simba in “The Lion King.” JTT grew up to become 5 feet 6 inches tall.
Mars is primarily known as a musician, but the “24K Magic” singer is multi-talented. His music appeared in movies like “Pitch Perfect” and “Friends with Benefits,” and he was the voice of Roberto in “Rio 2.” The star is 5 feet 5 inches tall, and to steal one of his famous lyrics, “You’re amazing just the way you are.”
An actor known for his role on “The Misfits,” Nathan McMullen is 5 feet 3 inches tall. He describes his role in the British sci-fi comedy-drama as Finn as a “man child.” He also had a role in “Dr. Who,” playing the part of Wolf the elf.
Actually, Humphrey Bogart was one of the tallest on our list, at 5 feet 8 inches. But Bogie was concerned that the audience would notice he was smaller than his “Casablanca” co-star Ingrid Bergman. She was told to slouch on the sofa in some scenes, while Bogart was perched on extra cushions so they appeared more level, according to The Telegraph.
A film noir star of the 1940s, Alan Ladd would sometimes stand on boxes to appear as though he was as tall as his female co-stars. Ladd was 5 feet 6 inches tall. Other tricks of the trade back then included women wearing ballet flats or lowering their heights by standing in trenches, according to The Telegraph.
Actor Jonathan Lipnicki was just 5 years old when he starred alongside Tom Cruise and Renee Zellweger in “Jerry Maguire” as Ray. (Remember how adorable he was in his eyeglasses?) He also starred in family-friendly movies like “Stuart Little” and “Like Mike.”
The actor, who is 5 feet 8 inches tall, says he doesn’t want to piggyback on his early success, and wants to continue taking theater classes, according to an interview with the Huffington Post.
“I think the problem with a lot of child stars and why they don’t make the transition, they think, ‘Well, the world owes me something.’ But the world doesn’t, the world doesn’t owe you anything. You need to continue to improve your skills as you grow up.” More recently, he starred in the high school comedy “Loserville.”
Starring in films like “Jaws,” “Stand by Me,” and “Mr. Holland’s Opus,” Richard Dreyfuss was an acclaimed actor often appearing on the big screen between the 1970s and ’90s. The Golden Globe winner is 5 feet 5 inches tall. During an interview with Today, he used a short stature as a comparison for why he doesn’t feel ashamed of his mental illness (he has bipolar disorder).
“It’s like being ashamed that you’re 5-foot-6 or something,” he said in the interview. “It’s just part of me.”
In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, James McAvoy downplayed his leading-man status.
“I’m 5-foot-7, and I’ve got pasty white skin,” he said in the interview. “I don’t think I’m ugly, don’t get me wrong, but I’m not your classic lead man, Brad Pitt guy.” The interview was from 2007, when McAvoy was starring in a romantic war drama, “Atonement.”
More recently, the Scottish actor starred in “Split,” playing a variety of different characters all living within one body.
Academy Award-winning actor Dustin Hoffman has starred in box office hits including “The Graduate,” “Midnight Cowboy,” “Rain Man” and “Hook.” The actor is about 5 feet 6 inches tall.
In an interview with The Guardian, the actor acknowledged his height, saying he was pleasantly surprised director Mike Nichols cast him in “The Graduate.” “Nichols chose to give this short, funny-looking Jewish guy the role usually reserved for a tall, handsome protestant,” he said in the interview.
The iconic singer also dabbled in acting, starring in the 1984 film “Purple Rain.” A couple of years before his death, he also made a rare cameo on the comedy “New Girl.” Prince was 5 feet 2 inches tall and often wore heels.
He was once quoted saying: “People say I’m wearing heels because I’m short. I wear heels because the women like ’em.”
David Faustino’s most recognizable role was that of Bud Buddy on the ’90s sitcom “Married with Children.” He did try to launch a rap career as well, with the name Lil’ Gweed. We’re not sure if he was referencing his height (he’s 5 foot 3 inches tall) or just using a common rap moniker. (Think: Lil’ Wayne, Lil’ Dicky, Lil’ Jon, Lil’ Kim …)