Directed by Stephen Chbosky, the musical follows Evan Hansen (played by Ben Platt), a shy, socially anxious teen who achieves viral fame in the wake of a classmate’s death. If the film version succeeds, Platt ― who earned an Emmy, a Grammy and a Tony after originating the role of Evan on Broadway in 2016 ― could get his shot at an Oscar, thus achieving EGOT status.
Of course, nearly five years have passed since Platt’s chilling, once-in-a-lifetime performance in the stage production. After the trailer debuted Tuesday, many on social media questioned whether the actor, now 27, was still convincing as a high school student.
A number of media outlets chimed in, too.
“Ben Platt is not too old to play Evan Hansen, and in certain circumstances, he never will be,” The A.V. Club wrote. “But he’s too old to play him in this movie.” Similarly, Jezebel griped: “Asking anyone to overlook the fact that Ben Platt’s makeup and physicality make him look 40 while he’s trying to play a teenager is simply a tree that one cannot climb.”
By Wednesday, Platt himself responded to the criticism.
“Thank u from the bottom of my [heart] for the outpouring of trailer love yesterday,” he wrote in a since-deleted tweet, which was captured for posterity by Variety, BuzzFeed and other outlets. “The film required me to revisit areas of personal pain, so seeing ppl excited & moved makes it so deeply worth it. PS to the randos being jerks about age, read this great article and/or watch grease.”
Platt’s reference to “Grease,” of course, raised a valid point. At 33, Stockard Channing was the oldest of Rydell High’s “teens” when she played Rizzo in 1978. As Danny and Sandy, John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John were 23 and 29, respectively.
The tweet also linked to a Vanity Fair interview published Tuesday, in which Platt preemptively addressed concerns regarding his age.
“Much to my pleasant surprise, Universal seemed to be really hell-bent on making it, and specifically making it with me,” he said. “I’d lost about 15 pounds and did a very specific diet, grew my hair out, and was shaving to make sure that I didn’t look like I had five o’clock shadow all the time, you know. I was just stripping myself into being a teenager for the last time. For what is hopefully the last time.”