While some may think of Hollywood movie stars as being the tallest and most handsome men around, this isn’t actually the case! In fact, there have been many leading men throughout Hollywood history that have been shorter than the male average. Each of these stars has found some other unique attribute to make up for what they lack in height. As well, they often employ camera tricks and various effects to make them look taller. Join Facts Verse as we explore short actors who have to fake their height for Hollywood.
Tom Cruise 5’7”
The first shorter-than-average actor we’ll be taking a look at is Tom Cruise, who makes up for his lack of height with his larger-than-life personality. Bad genes can’t be the reason that Tom Cruise only ended up being 5 feet 7 inches tall, as the actor seems to have impeccable genetic makeup. Tom notoriously didn’t seem to have aged a day for several decades after his start in the entertainment industry, though recent pictures have seen the actor starting to show his age.
Tom Cruise broke onto the scene in the 1980s with star-making turns in films such as Top Gun, Cocktail, and Risky Business. Each one of these films was more successful than the next, and Tom was a full-blown media sensation by the 1990s. This success continued into the 2000s, and Tom is arguably just as big of a star today as he’s ever been. Fans can look forward to the release of Top Gun: Maverick in 2021, the long-awaited sequel to the 1980s classic.
Not only has Tom Cruise been able to overcome his lack of height to achieve Hollywood stardom, but many over the years have also viewed him as a sex symbol. Although the actor isn’t the tallest, he has traditionally maintained an incredibly impressive physique. As well, his movie roles have often taken advantage of his impeccable running abilities. In addition to Tom’s striking physique, camera tricks have also been used to make the actor look taller than he actually is when he appears on the screen. One such camera trick is called forced perspective, wherein two actors stand at separate distances from the camera to make one or both appear shorter or larger than they actually are.
Tom became an all-out action star with the 1990s action hit Mission: Impossible, from director Brian De Palma. The film was loosely based upon the 1960s action series of the same name. Tom helped turn the old television series into a brand new film series, and several iterations have been seen since the initial film. Tom has starred in each installment and has gained notoriety for performing most of his own stunts. The actor stands as proof that being slightly below average when it comes to your height is no insurmountable obstacle, even if you’re aiming to become the sexiest man alive.
One example of how camera trickery has been used to mask Tom Cruise’s height is in the film Top Gun, wherein the actor appeared alongside 6-foot-tall Val Kilmer. Audiences surely would have balked if Tom had appeared that much shorter than Val on the screen, so effects were used to make Tom seem more comparable in height to his costar. It’s also worth noting that actress Kelly McGillis, who stands 5 feet 10 inches tall, played Tom’s love interest in the film.
Al Pacino 5’7”
Al Pacino is the second actor we’ll be taking a look at in this video, clocking in at the same height as Tom Cruise. While Al Pacino has never exactly been an action star in the same way that Tom has become since starring in Mission: Impossible, he has gained the reputation of being quite the intimidating figure in his own right… at least on the screen. In real life, Al is said to be much more affable than his traditional on-screen persona, which often sees him playing the roles of homicidal mobsters or streetwise cops.
One of Al’s big star-making turns came in the feature The Godfather. Francis Cord Coppola, who had been a big fan of Al’s work up until that point, directed the film. When Paramount told Francis that they didn’t think Al was right for the part due to his lack of height, Francis defended his friend. Al ended up performing the role to great acclaim. The actor has been able to intimidate the audience with his demeanor instead of his physicality, and most will agree that he still stands as one of the most imposing figures on film!
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Humphrey Bogart 5’8”
The next actor we’ll be taking a look at is actually the tallest featured in this video! At 5 foot 8 inches, Humphrey was only a single inch shorter than the average male height, which is traditionally said to be around 5 foot 9 inches. One of Humphrey’s biggest film roles was in Casablanca, where he memorably featured alongside the stunning Ingrid Bergman. For those that don’t know, Ingrid Bergman was actually 5 foot 9 inches, making her two inches taller than her male costar in the film. However, viewers would never notice that because various effects were used to trick the audience. Whereas reduced height was a disadvantage to male actors, excessive height was a disadvantage to their female counterparts. Because of this, both Humphrey and Ingrid likely considered themselves too lucky to have gotten their iconic parts to complain about their costar’s height.
Alan Ladd 5’6”
After Humphrey, Alan Ladd is another Golden Age star from Hollywood’s early years that wasn’t as tall as many of his contemporaries. At 5’6”, Alan is the shortest figure so far in this video, though you wouldn’t know it by watching his classic film noirs. According to legend, one of the ways that directors made Alan look taller than his female costars was by having them stand in trenches next to him.
Michael J. Fox 5’4”
While all of the aforementioned actors have been only a few inches below the average male height, Michael J. Fox is the first figure on this list that could really be considered strikingly short. However, that didn’t stop the actor from becoming one of the most highly sought-after leading men of his day, before having to depart the entertainment industry due to his on-setting Parkinson’s disease.
Michael broke onto the scene with his role on the classic sitcom Family Ties. On that show, Michael became somewhat of a teen idol. If the girls at home had known Michael’s true height, perhaps they wouldn’t have been so attracted to him! However, this wasn’t the case. From his role on Family Ties, Michael leveraged himself into superstardom when he got his role in Back to the Future.
After appearing in Back to the Future, Michael continued acting in large films and was considered a big box office draw. The actor’s unique charisma and relatable presence made him a hit with audiences, who found him charming.
Sadly, Michael was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease later in his career, which caused him to have to retire soon after appearing in Peter Jackson’s The Frighteners. Michael’s appearance in that film proved to be his last major role, though he has subsequently done some voice work, such as in the film Stuart Little and it’s sequel. Michael has also made a cameo on Larry David’s Curb Your Enthusiasm, with the cameo making light of his Parkinson’s disease.
Joe Pesci 5’4”
Like Al Pacino, Joe Pesci is a shorter-than-average actor that has made a name for himself playing intimidating gangsters. The two have appeared together in various films, such as Martin Scorsese’s Goodfellas. Joe won an Academy Award for his performance in that film, and subsequently gave an acceptance speech that was even shorter than him! Besides Joe’s appearance in Goodfellas, he has also made memorable turns in films such as My Cousin Vinny and Home Alone. The actor doesn’t typically have to look much taller than he is to be intimidating, as his voice and demeanor are more than enough to get attention.
One of the most memorable scenes in Joe Pesci’s career remains the scene from Goodfellas where Joe’s character frightens Ray Liotta’s character at a nightclub. Ray’s character has simply started laughing at one of Joe’s many jokes during a friendly conversation, and Joe’s character switches his demeanor and starts asking Ray’s character why he’s laughing. Ray’s character isn’t sure whether Joe’s character is trying to pull one over on him or not, but he certainly gets pretty freaked out. One might wonder if Ray’s character would’ve been quite as freaked out if Joe’s character had been standing up at the table instead of sitting down, as Ray is 6 feet tall.
Danny DeVito 4’10”
Finally, at 4 feet 10 inches tall, Danny DeVito is the shortest actor that we’ll be taking a look at on this list. Like many of the figures before him, Danny has gotten by on his larger-than-life personality. As well, Danny is a creative force behind the scenes, having directed numerous features. Some of Danny’s directorial work includes the features Matilda, Throw Momma from the Train, and Death to Smoochy. However, it’s hard to deny that the actor is certainly better known for his iconic visage and voice.
If Danny’s appearance isn’t intimidating, his voice certainly carries. Danny’s unique growly voice has even seen him voice characters in memorable cartoon features, such as Disney’s Hercules. Although Danny’s character in that film was just as short as he is, he didn’t have any trouble whipping Hercules into shape. More recently, Danny has had a career renaissance thanks to his long tenure on the FX comedy series. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.
Although all of the aforementioned actors grew up to be shorter than the average male height, they are recognized culturally as some of the most iconic actors to have ever graced the screen. Comment down below to share if you were surprised to learn the true height of any of these Hollywood stars, or if you think there’s someone that should’ve been included in this video but wasn’t! As always, like this video to show your support, and subscribe and hit the notification bell if you’d like to be among the first to know when more Facts Verse videos are on their way!