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The surprising celebrity cameo you never noticed in 13 Going On 30

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Hannah-Rose Yee
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Mark Ruffalo’s mind was blown when he found out.

Happy 15th birthday to 13 Going on 30.

Is there a body-swapping romantic comedy better than it? Show us your favourites and let’s decide. It’s definitely smarter than Big, it’s a lot funnier than Little and it’s at least marginally better than both iterations of Freaky Friday. Yes, we think we can confidently and safely say that there’s no body-swapping movie quite like 13 Going on 30.

Starring Jennifer Garner at her most radiant and charming as Jenna, a 13-year-old who dreams of being grown. She wakes up at 30 with the life she has always dreamed of: she’s the editor of a magazine with a closet full of designer clothes and a gorgeous ice hockey-playing boyfriend who’s rather fond of stripteases. But she also realises that she becomes something her 13-year-old self would never have stood for – mean. 

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Also starring in the movie is Mark Ruffalo as Matt, Jenna’s childhood best friend who has always loved her. At 13, the pair of them were adorable dorks and at 30, well, sweet Matt has grown into someone who looks and sounds like the charisma-magnet Ruffalo. It’s every girl’s childhood dream.

In 2004, Ruffalo was firmly ensconced in the romantic comedy portion of his career, but less than a decade later he would be starring alongside all your favourite superheroes in The Avengers. Ruffalo joined the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Hulk, replacing Edward Norton and, before him, Eric Bana, and changing the character forever with his laconic, understated performance.

But did you know that Ruffalo isn’t the only Avenger to appear in 13 Going on 30? The movie is one of the earliest child performances of a young Brie Larson, who stars as one of the bullying Six Chicks who made Jenna’s life a living hell.

And when someone told Ruffalo this fact on the Avengers: Endgame premiere red carpet, his mind was blown.

“She was a mean girl!” Ruffalo said, when presented with a picture of Larson in the movie by Entertainment Tonight. “Oh my God, that’s amazing. Wow, how cool I didn’t know that.”

In fairness to the man, Ruffalo and Larson didn’t share any scenes, so it makes sense that Ruffalo might never have twigged. But didn’t they ever talk about their shared heritage over turkey sandwiches at the Endgame craft services table? 

On social media, Ruffalo shared his praise for the “lovely little movie” he made 15 years ago.

“Still a sweet movie after all these years,” Ruffalo wrote on Twitter. “Remake? 13 going on 51?”

We’d like to see that. Here’s our pitch: Jenna and Matt are happily married (Jenna now runs a successful lifestyle website called Swoop) but are having trouble connecting to their twin children who are both about to turn 13. Suddenly, both Jenna and Matt are transported back to their 13-year-old selves as a way of reconnecting with their inner child.

You know where to reach us, Hollywood producers. 

Images: 13 Going on 30

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Hannah-Rose Yee

Hannah-Rose Yee is a writer based in London. You can find her on the internet talking about movies, television and Chris Pine.

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