23 Actors You Didn’t Realize Have Famous Parents
In Hollywood, blood is thicker than water.
The entertainment business is smaller than you think. In an industry that’s often the result of who you know, and sometimes it actually comes down to who you’re related to. While we all know that Willow Smith and Jaden Smith are the kids of Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith, it’s not always that easy to distinguish who is family and who isn’t in Hollywood. To help you connect the dots a little easier, we’ve compiled a list of 23 names who have show business running in their blood. Take a look at the stars you didn’t realize have famous parents!
Mamie Gummer—who’s had TV roles on The Good Wife, The Good Fight, Off the Map, and Emily Owens, M.D.—might not trigger your brain based on her name alone, but this actress is the eldest daughter of the Meryl Streep.
Gummer has said you never would’ve known how famous her mom was while she and her two younger sisters, Grace Gummer and Louisa Gummer, were growing up in Connecticut. “Her priority was being our mother, not being a celebrity, and it certainly wasn’t like we had Warren Beatty to the house every Thursday,” the eldest Gummer once told The Independent. “One of the smartest things my parents did was to move to the country when we were small.”
We’ve been lucky enough to see this mother-daughter duo share the screen first with 1986’s Heartburn and most recently with 2015’s Ricki and the Flash.
Of all three of Andie MacDowell’s children, daughter Margaret Qualley is the one following closest in her mom’s footsteps. MacDowell—best known for roles in 1985’s St. Elmo’s Fire, 1993’s Groundhog Day, and 1994’s Four Weddings and a Funeral—is also a model who has been a spokesperson for L’Oréal for more than 30 years. Qualley, who is also a model, has appeared in movies like 2016’s The Nice Guys and the upcoming 2019 film Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, as well as TV shows like HBO’s The Leftovers and FX’s Fosse/Verdon.
Similar to Gummer, Qualley grew up far away from Hollywood, on a ranch in Montana. “We didn’t grow up watching her movies,” the young actress told the Evening Standard of her mom’s work. “She made an effort just to be a mom, which I’m grateful for.”
Unlike his brother Charlie Sheen, Emilio Estevez didn’t adopt dad Martin Sheen’s stage name—taken from wife Janet Sheen. (For the record, Martin’s real name is Ramón Estévez.)
Though they’ve had a bit of a tortured relationship at times, the Brat Pack member and the former West Wing star got through it and strengthened their bond. In fact, they co-starred in the 2010 movie The Way—which was written and directed by Estevez. “Dad wanted me to [consider other actors],” Estevez told The Telegraph. “He said, ‘You ought to go to Michael Douglas. You’re not going to get this movie made with me.’ But I said, ‘I’m only making this movie with you.’”
Before Mariah Carey was belting out high notes, Minnie Riperton was known as the “Queen of the whistle register,” wowing the world with a five-octave vocal range on tunes like 1975’s “Lovin’ You.” She had two children with producer Richard Rudolph, son Marc in 1968, and daughter Maya in 1972—Maya Rudolph, that is.
She, of course, went on to become a Saturday Night Live cast member from 2000 to 2007 before starring in 2011’s Bridesmaids. But her first foray into the world of celebrity via her mom was a scarring one.
“When I was a kid, and people would come up to me or stare at me because of my mom, I didn’t like it. I really didn’t like it,” Rudolph told The New York Times Magazine in 2018. “I used to think, ‘Oh, they’re staring at my hair, because it’s so big and ugly.’ Because I didn’t realize people were just staring at my mother, like, ‘Wow, that’s her daughter!’ … Complete strangers would just be like: ‘I felt like she was this angel!’ And you’re like: ‘I’m 16. Why are you telling me about my dead mother?’”
Can you imagine having Minerva McGonagall or the Dowager Countess for a mom? Well, that’s life for actor Toby Stephens, whose mom is none other than Maggie Smith, one of the most decorated actresses today. Stephens, who played the Bond villain Gustav Graves in 2002’s Die Another Day, also had famed British actor Robert Graham Stephens for a dad.
Stephens loves that Smith is his mom, but he’s quick to point out there’s more to him than simply being her son. “What’s nice for me is that she is in my genetic make-up. I embrace that, I love that,” Stephens shared with The Telegraph. “But that’s just part of me.”
Jennifer Jason Leigh
Long before she wowed us in 1982’s Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Jennifer Jason Leigh was learning about Hollywood from dad Vic Morrow and mom Barbara Turner. Morrow was best known for playing Sergeant Chip Saunders on the ABC series Combat! in the 1960s and Bill Connor in 1983’s Twilight Zone: The Movie, during the filming of which he died in an on-set helicopter crash. Turner, who died in April 2016, was a screenwriter who penned 1983’s Cujo and 2012’s Hemingway & Gellhorn.
Jason and Robert Schwartzman
Believe it or not, Jason Schwartzman—who’s starred in numerous Wes Anderson films—and Robert Schwartzman—who appeared in 2001’s The Princess Diaries and is in the band Rooney—come from Hollywood royalty.
Their mom is actress Talia Shire, who played Connie Corleone in The Godfather series and Adrian Balboa in the Rocky series (scoring Oscar nominations for both franchises). She is also famed director Francis Ford Coppola’s sister, making Sofia Coppola and Nicolas Cage their cousins. Their dad, Jack Schwartzman, passed away in 1994.
Billie Lourd—who’s starred on multiple Ryan Murphy TV shows like Scream Queens and American Horror Story—is the only child of Carrie Fisher.
The last few years have been rough for Lourd as her mom—a beloved writer, comedian, and feminist—died suddenly in December 2016. Luckily, the two were able to act together in a brief scene in Star Wars: The Last Jedi before Fisher died. “I’m a big believer in things happening for a reason, and I think I ended up in that movie for a reason,” Lourd told Ellen DeGeneres. “It was really incredible for us to get to have that experience together.”
Not only did Billie Lourd lose her mother in December 2016, she lost her grandmother, Debbie Reynolds, too. Yes, Fisher also had a famous mom in Reynolds, who famously played Kathy Selden in 1952’s Singin’ in the Rain. Plus, she had her own TV series, The Debbie Reynolds Show, and appeared on Will & Grace and in the Halloweentown franchise. Fisher’s dad, Eddie Fisher, was a popular singer in the 1950s, too.
In 2016, Fisher presented her mother with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Screen Actors Guild Awards, describing Reynolds as “more than a mother—she’s been an unsolicited stylist, interior decorator, and marriage counselor.” They were funny together until the very end. As proof of just how close this mother-daughter duo was, Reynolds died just one day after Fisher did.
In addition to playing Major Anthony “Tony” Nelson on the sitcom I Dream of Jeannie in the 1960s, the late Larry Hagman was undoubtedly best known for playing J.R. Ewing—the subject of one of the biggest cliffhangers in TV history—on Dallas in the 1980s. What you may not know about him, though, is that his mom was none other than the legendary stage actress Mary Martin, one of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s muses. She was a four-time Tony winner—thanks to roles in South Pacific, Peter Pan, and The Sound of Music.
In an interview with Texas Monthly, Hagman told the story about how Martin was asked by a reporter in 1981 when Dallas was named the No. 1 series how it felt to know that her son was an icon. “My dear, my son is a star. I am an icon,” Martin replied. “That was mother,” Hagman joked.
Dakota Johnson has not one, but two famous parents and a famous grandmother: Her dad is actor Don Johnson—who starred on the TV series Miami Vice and Nash Bridges—and her mom is famed Body Double and Working Girl actress Melanie Griffith, whose own mom is The Birds star Tippi Hedren. “The three generations just made me think about mom, born in 1930, and me, in the ’50s, and Dakota, in the ’80s,” Griffith told Vanity Fair. “The progression of life is really beautiful.”
Johnson has most famously appeared in the Fifty Shades franchise as Anastasia Steele and she and her mom starred alongside one another in 1999’s Crazy in Alabama.
Kate and Oliver Hudson
Kate Hudson and her brother Oliver Hudson really have three famous parents: Their biological dad is musician/actor Bill Hudson, their mom is actress Goldie Hawn, and their longtime step dad (of sorts, since he and Hawn aren’t married) is Kurt Russell.
The Hudson offsprings have the utmost admiration for their parents, with Kate once calling Hawn “the woman that I’ve learned the most from, and who I look up to, who has conducted her life in a way that I can look up to” in an interview with MTV.
Like father like daughter, Jon Voight and Angelina Jolie are both Oscar winners (him for Coming Home in 1978 and her for Girl, Interrupted in 2000). And though their relationship has been full of ups and downs, it seems as though they’ve figured out how to communicate best. “Jon and I have gotten to know each other—through grandchildren now,” Jolie said on The Hollywood Reporter’s Awards Chatter podcast in 2017. “We’re finding a new relationship…We’ve had some difficulties, [but] through art we’ve been able to talk. It’s the common language.”
Jolie’s mom, Marcia Lynne “Marcheline” Bertrand, was also an actress and humanitarian. She died of ovarian cancer in January 2007. And for more famous grandparents like Voight, here are 27 Celebrities You Didn’t Know Were Grandparents.
O’Shea Jackson Jr.
When it comes to father-son relationships, few are tighter than the one between O’Shea Jackson Jr. and O’Shea Jackson—who you may know better as Ice Cube. Like Ice Cube, Jackson Jr. is also a rapper—though he goes by the stage name OMG. On top of that, they have both quite successfully dabbled in acting, with Ice Cube debuting in 1991’s Boyz n the Hood and Jackson Jr. doing the honor of playing his dad in the 2015 biopic about his group N.W.A., titled Straight Outta Compton.
When it comes to the biggest lesson his dad taught him, Jackson Jr. told Us Weekly it was “always tell the truth. … Don’t try to hide nothing. Don’t try to sugarcoat too much because if they don’t find the truth from you, they’ll never trust you.”
Actress Eva Amurri has been lucky enough to work with her mom, Susan Sarandon, on multiple occasions, including 1995’s Dead Man Walking (which won Sarandon her only Oscar thurs far), 2002’s The Banger Sisters, and a 2001 episode of Friends.
And Amurri has said she learned a lot from Sarandon growing up, off-screen as well. “I think the biggest lesson there was just the permission to want a lot for yourself, career-wise, as a woman. I think that was extremely valuable to me,” she told Yahoo Finance. “I think [my mother] really unapologetically … went after what she needed to be fulfilled. So it was nice to just have that example.”
With grandparents like Elvis Presley and Priscilla Presley, Riley Keough was destined for greatness. It also helps that she can call Lisa Marie Presley her mom.
Keough has appeared in 2012’s Magic Mike, 2015’s Mad Max: Fury Road, 2016’s American Honey, and 2017’s Logan Lucky. She even popped up in a 2018 episode of Riverdale and starred on The Girlfriend Experience.
Gwyneth Paltrow is the daughter of Meet the Parents star Blythe Danner and late director Bruce Paltrow. Danner has said she is nothing but proud of the woman she has seen her daughter grow into. “I think you came into the world with a very strong self-image,” Danner told Paltrow during a 2018 episode of the Goop founder’s podcast. “You had a strength and you knew who you were.”
As one of David Bowie’s two children, Duncan Jones had some pretty big shoes to fill—and he’s done quite an impressive job doing exactly that. Bowie, of course, was one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century, but he also wowed audiences as an actor, starring in movies like 1976’s The Man Who Fell to Earth, 1986’s Labyrinth, 1988’s The Last Temptation of Christ, and 2006’s The Prestige.
Jones has chosen to follow in his father’s footsteps behind the camera. This film writer-director is known for 2009’s Moon, 2011’s Source Code, 2016’s Warcraft, and 2018’s Mute. Jones said his dad wanted him to learn to play an instrument, but he was much more interested in filmmaking. “‘I’ve certainly never used my father’s name as a way of getting a meeting,” Jones told the Daily Mail. “And fortunately, I’ve never needed to.”
A major sex symbol in the 1950s and 1960s, Jayne Mansfield was one of the early Playboy Playmates and she starred in movies under a contract with 20th Century Fox (like 1957’s The Wayward Bus). During her career, she pushed the envelope, becoming one of the first American women to have a nude scene in a Hollywood film (1963’s Promises! Promises!).
She also had five children—one of whom is Law & Order: Special Victims Unit’s Mariska Hargitay, whose father is former Mr. Universe Mickey Hargitay. “She was just so ahead of her time,” Hargitay told People of her late mom. “She was an inspiration, she had this appetite for life, and I think I share that with her.”
Beloved Parent Trap star Natasha Richardson, who died in March 2009 after a skiing accident, had two Oscar-winning parents. Her mom, Vanessa Redgrave, is a six-time Oscar nominee—winning one for 1977’s Julia—and a three-time Tony nominee—winning one for 2003’s Long Day’s Journey Into Night. Her dad, the late Tony Richardson, was the Oscar-winning director of the 1963 film Tom Jones.
You’ve probably heard that legendary music producer and 28-time Grammy winner Quincy Jones is dad to Rashida Jones, but did you know Peggy Lipton was the actress’ mom? The younger Jones is best known for her TV roles on Boston Public, The Office, and Parks and Recreation. She also co-directed the 2018 documentary Quincy about her dad.
Lipton, who died in May 2019, was an actress who starred in TV series like The Mod Squad and Twin Peaks—both the original and the revival. “My mother and I are more than best friends; we are partners in crime,” Jones told Oprah.com shortly after her mom was diagnosed with cancer. “Just because a situation is grim doesn’t mean you don’t have every right to smile. It isn’t about ‘being strong’ and pretending everything’s okay; it’s about finding joy where you can. My dad has always said, ‘Approach life with love and not fear.’ It’s such a dynamic way to live.”
Lily Collins is one of five kids who call English musician and eight-time Grammy winner Phil Collins dad. The younger Collins is known for roles in 2013’s The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones and in 2017’s To the Bone—a Netflix film about a young woman with anorexia, a personal part given her own battle with an eating disorder.
“I forgive you for not always being there when I needed and for not being the dad I expected,” the actress wrote in an open letter, via the Daily Mail, about her strained relationship with her dad. “I forgive the mistakes you made. And although it may seem like it’s too late, it’s not. There’s still so much time to move forward.”
Isabella Rossellini’s mom is legendary actress Ingrid Bergman, who, of course, played Ilsa Lund in 1942’s Casablanca. She had an affair with the late Italian director Roberto Rossellini (he died in 1977) while they were both married to other people and Isabella was the result of that. She is best known for starring in 1986’s Blue Velvet, 1992’s Death Becomes Her, and for her recurring role on the TV series Alias.
“It’s been a gift that I look like my mother and I worked as a model for many years,” Rossellini said in 2016. “I’ve been asked to play her and I’ve always said, ‘Oh what a bad idea!’ But I did portray her in a short film I made for my father’s centennial in 2006.” And for more on celebrities, check out the 30 Celebrities You Never knew Were Related.
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