The only thing people love more than Hollywood celebrities are Hollywood celebrities who are children of other Hollywood celebrities. Generational Hollywood stories are such a constant element that each year, the Golden Globe Awards choose the child of two famous actors to give acting awards to other actors. The nepotism of the industry knows no bounds.
It’s no surprise that, with that kind of fervor for new famous faces born from old famous faces, there are frequent times when the children of actors become famous even though they have done little to no work to achieve their own fame. In today’s media-obsessed society, people become famous for terrible and notorious reasons, so simply being the child of a well-known actor isn’t the worst offense imaginable. However, it is undeniable that many of the second-generation celebrity faces seen on-screen didn’t work half as hard as other struggling actors to get where they are, and the average film and television watcher would have no idea who they were if not for the pre-existing fame of their parents.
This list contains people from all walks of fame, from acting and modeling to music and reality television, and each one’s level of celebrity is in large part owed to the generations of fame that came before them
16. Rumer Willis
Rumer Willis is probably best known currently for her role as Tory Ash on Fox’s series Empire. Her previous TV experience includes a run on 90210 and Hawaii Five-O, and she has appeared in horror (Sorority Row) and comedy (The House Bunny) films. She also had a successful run on the competition reality series Dancing with the Stars.
Above all that, though, she is famous for being the daughter of Bruce Willis and Demi Moore. She looks strikingly like her mother, and her early career clearly reflects their influence on her career. Her first two films, Now and Then and Striptease, were both star vehicles for her mom, while her second two films, The Whole Nine Yards and Hostage, were starring vehicles for her father. She was also Miss Golden Globe for 2008, an honor only extended to children of celebrities.
15. Kate Hudson
Though Kate Hudson was nominated for an Oscar for her role in Almost Famous, and she has branched off into other genres like horror with The Skeleton Key, she is primarily known for her romantic comedy work. From her films with Matthew McConaughey, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days and Fool’s Gold, to her female buddy films Le Divorce and Bride Wars, Hudson’s on-screen persona is nearly synonymous with light-hearted comedies containing central romances.
That’s no coincidence. Her mother, Goldie Hawn, was doing the same thing years earlier. From Shampoo to Foul Play to classic comedies like Overboard and Everyone Says I Love You, Hawn is well remembered for her winning personality in a long line of rom-coms. It’s likely the reason Hudson has been offered so many of those and so little of anything else.
14. Kelly Osbourne
Kelly Osbourne struggled in the limelight for a while, trying to find her niche in the industry. After trying and failing at a straightforward acting career in work like Life As We Know It and Are We There Yet, she finally found her calling as a fashion commentator on shows like Fashion Police and Project: Runway. She now has her own fashion line, and she is a staple on red carpet celebrations everywhere.
None of that would matter if she hadn’t agreed to appear on an MTV reality show that was focused on her doddering ex-rock star father and clever manager mother. The series was The Osbournes, and it single-handedly created the celeb/reality boom that led to shows like Keeping Up with the Kardashians. Without Ozzy and Sharon, Kelly would barely be a blip on the public consciousness.
13. Lily-Rose Depp
Though her film career has been relatively short, Lily-Rose Depp came to prominence fairly quickly in the handful of films in which she has appeared. Due to a friendship between her and Harley Quinn Smith, daughter of filmmaker Kevin Smith, her first two film appearances were in films he wrote and directed. Starring alongside Harley Quinn in Yoga Hosers and appearing in a cameo as the same character in Tusk, the movies were glorified home movies with charm and humor. She followed those up with The Dancer and Planetarium in 2016, and will soon be appearing in Moose Jaws.
Her father is superstar actor Johnny Depp, who appeared in a ridiculous costume and make-up in both of Lily-Rose’s Kevin Smith films. Though Harley Quinn didn’t make this list, it seems both of them benefited from their famous fathers.
12. Jake Busey
To say Jake Busey’s resume is unusual is an understatement. From Enemy of the State to Starship Troopers to the TV series version of From Dusk Till Dawn, Busey has made a career out of playing weird characters in a variety of genres. He has even popped up in raunchy comedies like Tomcats and prestige cable dramas like Ray Donovan.
He is also a dead ringer for his father, down to the slightly crazy eyes and the larger than normal teeth. Early performances from Gary Busey in Lethal Weapon and Point Break could be roles from Jake Busey, and Hollywood loves to stunt cast. For example: Jake is appearing in the new The Predator film, following in his father’s footsteps, who appeared as Peter Keyes in Predator 2.
11. Elizabeth Jagger
Elizabeth Jagger isn’t known for her film work, aside from a role in 2002’s Igby Goes Down, nor does she perform music, aside from backing vocals on one of her father’s songs. However, she is very well-known in the fashion industry. She began as a runway model in 1998, and has appeared in campaigns for Tommy Hilfiger, Marks and Spencer, and Lancome.
Both her fame and her entry into modeling were provided by her parents. Her father is Mick Jagger of The Rolling Stones, providing the worldwide fame, and her mother is Jerry Hall, hugely successful model and actress who was the inspiration for The Rolling Stones song “Miss You.” Elizabeth’s very first modeling gig was for French designer Thierry Mugler, and she did it with her mother.
10. Miley Cyrus
It’s hard to believe, in an age when Miley Cyrus is an award-winning musician with huge hit songs on the radio and appearances on one of the most popular singing competition contests on TV, The Voice, that there was a time when her father was the famous one. He is currently relegated to sidekick status on The Voice himself, acting as a singing mentor for Miley’s team members.
However, when Miley first arrived in public consciousness as Hannah Montana, the undercover singing superstar, she was known as Billy Ray Cyrus’ daughter. In fact, he even played her father on the series, and this was after his success as a country singer, his creation of the annoying earworm song “Achy Breaky Heart,” and his run on the TV series Doc. She has surpassed Dad now, but only because he gave her the platform.
9. Jessica Capshaw
Jessica Capshaw’s film career was never her main focus, appearing only in a few films like Valentine and Minority Report. However, her television career took off when she appeared in The Practice. She followed that up with roles on Bones and The L Word before landing her longest and most successful TV gig on Grey’s Anatomy as Dr. Arizona Robbins.
If she looks familiar but you’ve never watched those shows, it’s probably because she’s a dead ringer for her mother, Kate Capshaw. Kate appeared in several well remembered films from the 1980s like SpaceCamp and Dreamscape, but most memorably as the love interest in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. She is married to Steven Spielberg, and if you’re wondering whether Jessica was able to utilize that, she worked as an intern on Schindler’s List. Not a lead role or anything, but it probably helped.
8. Bryce Dallas Howard
A list of Bryce Dallas Howard’s film career is an impressive list of franchises and big-budget studio releases. From her lead roles in M. Night Shyamalan’s The Village and Lady in the Water, she leapt into comic book film with Spider-Man 3. She then appeared in Disney’s live-action Pete’s Dragon and joined the Terminator and Twilight franchises, and is ready to release a sequel to her uber-hit Jurassic World.
Her sense of how to pick a big budget hit clearly came from her dad, filmmaker Ron Howard, who has been making box-office friendly fare for three decades. One way to tell for sure that she benefited from a popular Hollywood director father is that her first four film credits are Parenthood, Apollo 13, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and A Beautiful Mind, all directed by Ron Howard.
7. Alison Eastwood
Alison Eastwood has become a fairly recognizable name, appearing in comedies like Just a Little Harmless Sex and Breakfast of Champions. She has tried her hand at drama with Poolhall Junkies and Finding Harmony, and ventured into horror with Shadow People. She’s even part a franchise series that started with Hot Bath an’ a Stiff Drink.
Her fame is obviously linked to her father, Clint Eastwood, and not just because the last name is so distinctive. Her first FIVE film credits are: Bronco Billy, Any Which Way You Can, Tightrope, Absolute Power, and Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. Every single one of those films is either produced by, directed by, or starring her father. Like her composer brother Kyle and actor brother Scott, her career exists because of her father’s name recognition.
6. Jason Connery
Jason Connery made small appearances in films and on TV series (including Doctor Who) before getting his big on-screen break on the Robin Hood series in the 1980s. He does a lot of voice work, from many well-known video games to the animated series Trollz. Most recently, he had a run on General Hospital, and he stepped behind the camera to direct Tommy’s Honour.
The name Connery is distinctive, and everyone can tell Jason is the son of iconic Scottish actor Sean Connery. It’s clear that people were banking on name recognition in at least a few of Jason’s projects. Sean Connery had already played Robin Hood in Robin and Marian almost a decade before Jason did, and Jason played the lead role in The Secret Life of Ian Fleming, based on the creator of his dad’s most famous character, James Bond.
5. Melissa Rivers
What does Melissa Rivers do, exactly? Sure, she has been in some films and TV shows like Silk Stalkings and The Big Tease. She is also a fashion correspondent who has worked with E! Entertainment Television and hosted the popular series Fashion Police.
Mostly, though, she worked with her mother. Joan Rivers started the red carpet commentary that eventually led to Fashion Police. Joan was the famous comedian that paved the way for her daughter. Melissa played herself in a story about her and her mother called Tears and Laughter: The Joan and Melissa Rivers Story, and she played a young version of her mother in 2015’s Joy. Many of her other performances (First Daughter, Just Shoot Me!) were her playing herself as well. Beyond that, her persona was formed from reality television appearances alongside her mom.
4. Connor Cruise
Though his last name is readily identifiable, Connor Cruise has not had a huge acting career thus far. Back in 2008, he appeared as the younger version of a very famous actor to whom he is not related, playing Will Smith’s character as a young man in Seven Pounds. It would be four more years before he would appear in another film, this time in the 2012 remake of the classic 1980s cold war action film Red Dawn. As of this point, those films are the only ones Connor has appeared in.
There is no doubt that Connor’s father, Tom Cruise, was integral in the few appearances he has made in films. Though he did audition for his role in Seven Pounds, Will Smith is known to be a friend of Tom Cruise’s. And Red Dawn’s director, Dan Bradley, previously shot second unit direction on Mission: Impossible- Ghost Protocol.
3. Jaden Smith
Though Jaden Smith got good write-ups for his work on the now-cancelled Netflix series The Get Down, his acting career wasn’t always as well received. His remake of the beloved 1980s film The Karate Kid, a film that built into a successful trilogy, wasn’t successful enough to warrant even a single sequel, and the film did nothing to make audiences choose it over the original. His other big-budget remake appearance, The Day the Earth Stood Still, was likewise met with lukewarm reception.
Even his successes tend to be because of his father, Will. He appeared in The Pursuit of Happyness, which earned his father an Oscar nomination, and the two appeared together in After Earth, which didn’t help his dad’s career or director M. Night Shyamalan’s. Name recognition is key here: both he and his sister’s names, Jayen and Willow, are just gender-reversed versions of their parents, Jada and Will.
2. Colin Hanks
There is no doubt that Colin Hanks has begun to make a name for himself in recent years, appearing in popular TV series like Dexter, Mad Men, and Fargo. He’s also a successful member of the ensemble sitcom Life in Pieces. Inspired comic appearances on Burning Love and Drunk History have helped him find an audience.
However, there is no one who knows Colin Hanks free of his world-famous father, Tom. Though they’ve worked together only rarely (small roles for Colin in the Tom Hanks-produced Band of Brothers and That Thing You Do!), Tom’s shadow looms large. Case in point: Colin’s breakout film, Orange County, was a second-generation extravaganza, co-starring Schuyler Fisk (daughter of Sissy Spacek) and directed by Jake Kasdan (son of director Lawrence Kasdan). Without his father, he probably wouldn’t have gotten his breakout role.
1. Lisa Marie Presley
Elvis Presley is inarguably one of the most famous celebrities in the history of celebrity. His shadow looms large, and he is one of the special few for which a single first name is distinctly identifiable (along with Oprah, Cher, and Madonna). When he passed away, he left his estate and legacy to his only child, Lisa Marie. The world waited to find out what the nine-year-old daughter he left behind would grow up to be.
Lisa Marie isn’t a career musician, though she has released three albums that have been fairly well received. She isn’t an actress, though her marriage with Danny Keough did provide the world Riley Keough, who is an accomplished actress. Mostly, she’s known for her dad and her relationships. She was married to Michael Jackson for two strange years and later married Nicolas Cage. Divorce proceedings lasted longer than their marriage.
Do you think we missed any second generation stars? Let us know in the comments!
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