No matter who you are, everyone grows up with some sort of desire to impress their parents, and there’s no better way to wow mom and dad than to follow in their footsteps by taking the same career path. Such is the case with many Hollywood actors, who are determined to outdo the legacy that came before them.
Sometimes these actors achieve their goals, becoming the new faces of their famous family names. Other times… not so much.
The next few actors on this list never reached the famous highs that their parents were able to achieve. It doesn’t necessarily mean that the following names on this list are failures– having a solid career doesn’t mean you can always fill the famous shoes of your parents.
Some of these actors came close, but none have successfully been able to quite escape the enormous shadows cast by their famous mothers and fathers.
To be clear, these are actors whose careers are still eclipsed by the resumés of their parents. This means that celebrity child/parent combos who have had equally successful careers, like Angelina Jolie and Jon Voight, are off the table.
Here are the 15 Actors Who Live in the Shadows of Their Parents.
15. Eva Amurri Martino and Susan Sarandon
Acting since the age of nine, Eva Amurri Martino is perhaps best known for her work in 2004’s Saved!, a comedy set in a Catholic high school that saw the actress star alongside Mandy Moore, Jena Malone, and Macaulay Culkin.
Since then, Martino has popped up in different shows and movies, like her brief stint in How I Met Your Mother, and the Adam Sandler comedy That’s My Boy.
While she’s had a decent career, it’s still dwarfed in comparison to that of her mother’s, who just happens to be on-screen icon Susan Sarandon.
From cult favorites like The Rocky Horror Picture Show, to audience favorites like Thelma & Louise, Sarandon has dabbled in a little bit of everything to become one of the most recognizable faces in movies.
Though they’ve had very different careers, daughter and mother have shared the stage on more than one occasion. Martino played the younger version of Sarandon’s character in Dead Man Walking, which is also the role that nabbed Sarandon an Academy Award for Actress in a Leading Role.
14. Quincy Jones and Rashida Jones
One of the funniest actresses working today, Rashida Jones scored her big break in 2007 with a part on the popular television series The Office.
While it was short lived, her brief time on the program lead to a starring role in Parks and Recreation, along with various movie roles, like The Social Network, I Love You, Man, and Inside Out.
While Rashida’s career might out shine her mother Peggy Lipton’s, best known for her role on Twin Peaks, it’s still a drop in the bucket when you consider the significant impact of her father, legendary music producer Quincy Jones.
Responsible for some of the biggest albums of all time, Jones has worked with artists of such caliber as Michael Jackson and Frank Sinatra, and has a record 79 Grammy Award Nominations to boot.
13. Grace Gummer and Meryl Streep
Having Hollywood actors as parents doesn’t always mean that you are going to be forced to live in their shadows. There are instances where the child’s career outshine the legacy of the biggest names in their family.
However, when your mother is Meryl Streep, who is considered one of the greatest actors of all time, that career path is going to be a little more difficult.
Such is the predicament of Grace Gummer. Since her acting career began in 1993, Gummer has nabbed numerous roles in critically acclaimed televisions series, such as The Newsroom, American Horror Story, and USA’s breakout hit Mr. Robot.
Unfortunately, that all pales in comparison when you mom holds the record for the most Oscar nominations of all time.
Meryl Streep is a household name, an actress that almost anyone who has ever watched a movie easily recognizes. From heartbreaking dramas like Sophie’s Choice, to comedies like The Devil Wears Prada, Streep has done it all and then some.
12. Bruce Dern and Laura Dern
While she was exposed to the world of movies from a young age, actress Laura Dern didn’t get her breakthrough role until 1986 when she starred in David Lynch’s Blue Velvet.
The role allowed her to branch out into other projects, including the 1993 dino-blockbuster Jurassic Park, up to this year’s revival of Twin Peaks.
Laura might have a long and fruitful career, but it still falls a tad short when compared to her father Bruce Dern.
The actor has been in a string of hits through several decades, from comedies like The ‘Burbs, to Quentin Tarantino’s ultra-violent The Hateful Eight, racking up two Academy award nominations along the way.
However, Laura’s career isn’t done yet. While she might be in the shadow of Bruce Dern, her inclusion in the upcoming Star Wars: The Last Jedi might just bump resume up to surpass even her father’s.
11. Amanda Plummer and Christopher Plummer
With a career that spans as far back as the 1980s, Amanda Plummer has popped up in some of the biggest films of the last couple of decades, most notably in Quentin Tarantino’s landmark accomplishment, Pulp Fiction.
Since that time, she’s stayed busy, appearing in Disney’s animated Hercules and The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.
Still, although Amanda has had a lengthy career, it’s not quite as lengthy as the one of her father Christopher Plummer’s.
The actor has been starring in hit films since the 1950s, beginning with such classics as The Sound of Music, all the way up to modern-day hits, like Up, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and A Beautiful Mind.
10. Joel Grey and Jennifer Grey
In the 1980s, Jennifer Grey was one of the biggest up-and-coming stars on the planet. She shot onto the scene with roles in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and Red Dawn, but it wasn’t until 1987 when the actress rose to super stardom alongside Patrick Swayze in 1987’s Dirty Dancing, a film that became one of the biggest hits of the decade.
However, Jennifer’s star began to fade shortly after Dirty Dancing. While the actress has worked steadily since then, she’s never fully been able to step out of the shadow of her father Joel Grey.
With a career spanning five decades, Joel is most widely known for his work in Bob Fosse’s Cabaret, for which the actor took home the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.
9. Clint Eastwood and Scott Eastwood
There’s no getting around the fact that Clint Eastwood is one of the biggest stars on the planet.
Launching his acting career with such signature roles as the Man with No Name and Dirty Harry, Clint’s fame rose to mammoth proportions when he started directing his own films, leading to such critically acclaimed works as Mystic River, Million Dollar Baby, and Unforgiven.
Given Clint’s more than impressive body of work, his son Scott Eastwood has yet to come even close.
While not yet on the level of his father, the actor has popped up in some big-name movies, most recently in this year’s Fate of the Furious. He’s also starred alongside Brad Pitt in David Ayer’s Fury and had a brief part in Gran Torino, which starred and was directed by his father.
8. James Caan and Scott Caan
Known for his tough guy persona, Scott Caan has appeared as the bad-boy instigator in several movies and TV shows over the years. From movies like Ocean’s 11 and Gone in 60 Seconds, to shows such as Hawaii Five-0 and Entourage, Scott has made a career as the lovable gruff who can sometimes get on your nerves.
Not surprising, considering that his father is one of most famous Hollywood tough guys of all times, James Caan. And while Scott has been doing his best to fill the shows of his father, there’s no outdoing the original, who has starred in such classics like The Godfather, Thief, Misery, and El Dorado.
7. Gary Busey and Jake Busey
Speaking of following in your father’s footsteps, there’s probably no better father-son combo who take such similar roles as Gary Busey and his son Jake Busey. Both have made their claim to fame as characters who are a little abrasive, a bit unconventional, and a whole lot of bizarre.
From one of his earliest roles as a psychotic killer in 1996’s The Frighteners, Jake Busey has been in a number of different thrillers and action movies, including the sci-fi romp Starship Troopers and the psychological mystery Identity.
However, as great as Jake is at playing the unstable bad guy, his father is in a different league altogether, with such hits as Lethal Weapon, Point Break, and Predator 2 under his belt.
While Gary Busey has since moved on from the Predator franchise, Jake will continue to follow in his father’s footsteps next year with a starring role in Shane Black’s Predator reboot.
6. Colin Hanks and Tom Hanks
It’s tough to make a name for yourself as an actor, and it’s even tougher when your dad is Tom Hanks.
Starting his career as one of the biggest comedy stars of the 1980s with films like Big and The Money Pit, Tom Hanks became a dramatic powerhouse in the following decades with roles in Forest Gump, Philadelphia, and Saving Private Ryan.
Meanwhile, his son Colin has done his best to keep up. The actor has been in everything from broad comedies like Orange County and House Bunny, to biographical drams like W., to big-budgeted blockbusters like King Kong. Colin has even made headway in the world of television, with roles on critically acclaimed dramas like Fargo and Dexter.
5. Jaden Smith and Will Smith
A rising talent in Hollywood, Jaden Smith is an actor who is just exploring his full potential. At a young age, Jaden got the chance to star in the remake of The Karate Kid alongside Jackie Chan, and since took a starring role in Netflix’s short-lived The Get Down.
Though Jaden’s resume is off to a decent start, it might be impossible to ever eclipse the career of his father, blockbuster superstar Will Smith.
One of the most bankable actors of the last two decades, Will has become a household name thanks to big-screen juggernauts such as Independence Day, Men in Black, and Suicide Squad.
While Jaden has yet to even begin rivaling his father’s career, Will has encouraged his son’s acting by starring alongside him in a number of projects. The collaborations have lead to either great results, like The Pursuit of Happiness, or complete disasters, such as After Earth.
4. Beau Bridges and Lloyd Bridges
Winner of two Golden Globes, Beau Bridges is definitely one of the more recognizable stars in Hollywood. Along with parts in hit television shows Stargate SG-1 and Bloodline, Beau has also starred in a wide range of movies, like The Descendants, Max Payne, and The Fabulous Barker Boys.
While that is certainly a career to be proud of, it doesn’t quite out do the legacy of Beau’s father Lloyd Bridges.
Becoming a notable star in the ’50s and ’60s with such hits as High Noon and Sea Hunt, Lloyd later became recognized as a comedy genius for his work on Airplane! and the Hot Shots movies.
While you could argue that Beau has been in just as many notable projects as his father, there’s no denying that Lloyd Bridges had one of the most diverse resumés in Hollywood.
However, even though Beau and Lloyd have had terrific careers, they might be both outclassed by Beau’s brother Jeff Bridges, who has something that neither his father or brother were able to obtain: an Academy Award.
3. Emilio Estevez, Charlie Sheen, and Martin Sheen
Siblings Charlie Sheen and Emilio Estevez have certainly had their ups and downs in Hollywood.
Charlie became a bankable star in the late ’80s and early ’90s, and found later success with the hit show Two and a Half Men. Unfortunately, Charlie’s career took a serious dip after a very public meltdown and has never fully recovered.
Emilio has had a similar career — minus the public breakdown — starring in a string of hits like Young Guns and The Breakfast Club, while falling out of the lime light in recent years.
Patriarch Martin Sheen, on the other hand, has managed to remain relevant since the 1970s. Starring in such high regarded films, like Apocalypse Now, The Departed, and Wall Street.
Along with his starring role on the series The West Wing, Martin has racked up a collection of Emmy and Golden Globe nominations along the way.
2. Donald Sutherland and Kiefer Sutherland
While you may remember him from movies like The Lost Boys, Stand By Me, and Phone Booth, Kiefer Sutherland’s signature role is no doubt Jack Bauer from the hit series 24.
The government agent who will do whatever it takes to thwart the threats against America, Sutherland found the ideal character perfectly suited for his talents.
However, even with Agent Jack Bauer under his belt, Kiefer’s career is still out shined by papa Donald Sutherland.
One of the biggest names of the ’70s and ’80s, Donald flew onto the scene in 1970’s Mash. Since then, he’s had an entire crop of hits, like Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Ordinary People, and the 2003 remake of The Italian Job.
Donald Sutherland has managed to stay relevant so many years later with his performance as the villainous President Snow in The Hunger Games movies. While Kiefer has captured the hearts of millions with Jack Bauer, there’s no out doing the legacy of his father which spans decades.
1. Goldie Hawn and Kate Hudson
In 2000, Kate Hudson shot onto the scene in Cameron Crowe’s Almost Famous, a coming-of-age story about a group of teenagers following a rock band on tour in the early 1970s.
At just 21 years old, Hudson was holding her own with seasoned actors like Frances McDormand and Billy Crudup.
However, since then, Hudson hasn’t really done anything to match her stellar break-out performance.
Following Almost Famous, the actress has starred in a string of poorly-received romantic comedies, like How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days and Bride Wars. It’s those kinds of films that just don’t stack up when your mom is Hollywood legend Goldie Hawn.
Winner of the 1970 Best Supporting Actress Oscar, Hawn has more then left her mark on cinema, with classics like Private Benjamin, Cactus Flower, and The First Wives Club.
Sure, she’s had her share of misfires as well (the recent Snatched comes to mind) but Hawn’s career still far outshines her daughter’s in terms of recognition and quality.
Can you think of any other actors who were are living in the shadows of their parents’ success? Let us know in the comments!
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