Hollywood is a town that operates on nepotism, where powerful operatives in the industry often give jobs, opportunities, and favors to friends and family. Sometimes, though, people in the same family just feel the same calling to be involved in the creative field of filmmaking.
In the days of old Hollywood, families would be dynasties, the closest that the US had to royal families. From the Barrymores to the Carradines, Hollywood acting families have been living out familial drama in the public spotlight for years.
Often, when multiple members of the same family are famous actors, one of them tends to be more famous or successful than the others.
Whether it’s acting skill, choosing the right projects, or simply the pure luck of finding a supportive audience, it tends to work out that one of the siblings finds wild success while the other(s) will have a recognizable and excellent career.
However, they somehow always end up being measured by comparison to their more famous sibling. This is a list of actors whose output is steady, but who are often eclipsed by their more famous family member.
Here are the 20 Actors With Siblings Who Are Even More Famous.
20. Maggie and Jake Gyllenhaal
Given that her parents are producer/writer Naomi Foner and director Stephen Gyllenhaal, it should come as no surprise that Maggie Gyllenhaal eventually found her way into the family business.
Her first film appearance was in her father’s 1992 film Waterland, and she worked occasionally in film through her teenage years.
The film that brought her acclaim and attention was the erotic dramedy Secretary, co-starring with James Spader. This led to dramatic roles in Adaptation, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, and a Golden Globe-nominated performance in Sherrybaby. Her most prominent performance to date is as Rachel in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight.
She appeared in Donnie Darko alongside brother Jake, whose career trajectory was fast and impressive.
His performance in Nightcrawler was nominated for a Golden Globe, a BAFTA, and a Screen Actors Guild Award. Prisoners and Enemy showed his excellent natural skills, and high-profile roles in Southpaw, Life, and Nocturnal Animals have helped him secure a place as a Hollywood A-lister.
19. Eric and Julia Roberts
The son of two actors, Eric Roberts began his acting career in his teens and early twenties on television with shows like Another World and American Playhouse.
He cemented big-screen popularity in the 1980s, turning in powerful performances in Star 80, The Pope of Greenwich Village, and Runaway Train. He continued to make fun appearances in indie films like The Grave and Heaven’s Prisoners.
Throughout the 1990s, his filmic output was relegated primarily to direct-to-video action and crime films. After his appearance in The Dark Knight, he had a late-career resurgence on TV, appearing on Suits and Lost Girl.
The only film he ever made with sister Julia Roberts was 1989’s Blood Red. The same year, Julia had her big breakthrough in Steel Magnolias, and then her career was on fire.
The next year was the one-two punch of Pretty Woman and Flatliners. From My Best Friend’s Wedding to Erin Brockovich to Ocean’s Eleven, Julia has been an enduring star whose work is beloved worldwide.
18. Peter and Jane Fonda
Though Peter Fonda had been acting since 1962, he was mostly known as actor Henry Fonda’s son until he produced, co-write, and starred in the counter-culture phenomenon Easy Rider.
The 1970s gave him his most memorable roles in the car chase action film Dirty Mary Crazy Larry and the horror road picture Race with the Devil. He even revisited and lampooned his Easy Rider persona twice in The Cannonball Run and Wild Hogs.
The 1980s and 1990s were more sporadic for Fonda’s performances, alternating between indies like Love & a .45 and the big-budget flop Escape from LA. He had a nostalgic resurgence in the late 1990s with the Steven Soderbergh film The Limey and an Oscar-nominated performance in Ulee’s Gold.
He appeared with sister Jane Fonda in 1968’s Spirits of the Dead, the same year she starred in the cult hit Barbarella. Her roles in Klute, Coming Home, and The China Syndrome cemented her as a star. She has retained her marquee status on TV in recent years, appearing in HBO’s The Newsroom and Netflix’s Grace and Frankie.
17. Virginia and Michael Madsen
Virginia Madsen first came to the attention of viewers in 1984, appearing in both Dune and Electric Dreams. Her early career was heavy on genre material, from Zombie High and Highlander II: The Quickening to The Prophecy and her lead role in the horror classic Candyman.
After some prestige drams in the 1990s including Ghosts of Mississippi and The Rainmaker, much of the rest of her work was television guest appearances and voice performances in series like Justice League.
She was nominated for an Oscar for her work in Sideways, which led to a renaissance on her career with roles on TV series like Monk, The Event, and Hell on Wheels. She recently appeared on the thriller series American Gothic and the political thriller Designated Survivor.
Virginia played herself in a fake documentary called Being Michael Madsen, about her actor brother. Though Michael Madsen has never been nominated for an Oscar, his relationship with director Quentin Tarantino has led him to wide recognition in films like Reservoir Dogs, Kill Bill, and The Hateful Eight.
16. Rosanna and Patricia Arquette
Though Rosanna Arquette did many film and television appearances in the late 1970s, it was in the 1980s with Baby It’s You, Desperately Seeking Susan, and After Hours that made her quirky presence a positive box-office influence.
She appeared in daring indie films throughout the 1990s from Pulp Fiction to Search and Destroy to David Cronenberg’s Crash.
The new millennium brought her to television with The L Word and What About Brian. Most recently, Rosanna can be seen as Linda on the Showtime series Ray Donovan. In 2002, she made a documentary about women in the entertainment industry called Searching for Debra Fisher which featured her sister, Patricia.
Rosanna was Golden Globe-nominated for Desperately Seeking Susan, and her sister Patricia won an Oscar for Boyhood.
Patricia was in the third Nightmare on Elm Street film, the cult crime hit True Romance, David Lynch’s Lost Highway, the hit series Medium, the biopic Ed Wood, Martin Scorsese’s Bringing Out the Dead, and HBO’s Boardwalk Empire. Patricia is arguably the most famous of the entire Arquette acting family.
15. Joan and John Cusack
Joan Cusack had a few small roles in the early 1980s, but her big break came appearing in a season of Saturday Night Live in 1985.
This led to memorable comedic performances in Broadcast News, Married to the Mob, and Working Girl. The early 1990s brought high-concept comedies like Toys and Addams Family Values.
An Oscar nomination for In & Out in 1997 led to other excellent dramatic performances in Arlington Road and Cradle Will Rock. She had a short-lived TV series, What About Joan, in the early 2000s, and returned to TV for Shameless and A Series of Unfortunate Events.
She starred alongside brother John Cusack in 1997’s Grosse Point Blank. Brother John’s career blew up early, from Better Off Dead to Say Anything.
He matured into roles in The Grifters and Bullets Over Broadway. He retained his popularity with audiences with roles in Con Air, Being John Malkovich, 1408, and High Fidelity. Though never nominated for an Oscar, John has retained immense popularity over his entire career.
14. Justine and Jason Bateman
Justine Bateman’s career began on the hit TV series Family Ties in 1982. It ended after a seven-year run, and Justine moved into features and TV movies before returning to TV for Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman.
She worked consistently in TV, from Men Behaving Badly to Men in Trees to Californication. Recently, she appeared in Desperate Housewives and played a humorously fictionalized version of herself in the IKEA-set sitcom Easy to Assemble.
In 2006, Justine Bateman appeared on Arrested Development with her brother Jason. Jason’s career began in TV as well, with appearances on Little House on the Prairie, Silver Spoons, and his breakout series Valerie.
He appeared in the sequel Teen Wolf Too, and he had a career resurgence in 2003 with Arrested Development. Since then, he has been in huge comedy hits like Dodge Ball and Horrible Bosses and dramatic roles in Up in the Air and The Gift. Most recently, he is the producer/director/star of Netflix’s crime series Ozark.
13. Chris and Sean Penn
Chris Penn’s early film career was promising, with appearances in classic 1980s films like Rumble Fish, All the Right Moves, and Footloose.
His intense presence and skill with dialogue landed him coveted roles in two Tarantino-scripted movies, Reservoir Dogs and True Romance. His ability to play explosive anger and introspection came in handy in the roles for The Funeral and Mulholland Falls.
He popped up in Rush Hour and even had fun with his intense presence in the comedy Corky Romano and by playing himself in Entourage. He sadly passed away in early 2006, leaving fans heartbroken.
He played brothers with real-life brother Sean Penn in 1986’s At Close Range. Sean was already a star after Fast Times at Ridgemont High, and the rest of his career would be rocky but popular.
12. Spencer and Abigail Breslin
After a small but memorable performance in Stephen King’s TV mini-series Storm of the Century, young Spencer Breslin burst onto screens with a hilarious, chaotic performance alongside Bruce Willis in The Kid.
The same year, he had a small role in Meet the Parents, and then he followed those films up with the fantasy films The Santa Clause 2 and The Cat in the Hat.
He continued his appearances in Disney films with The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement and The Shaggy Dog, and joined Tim Allen in the superhero family adventure Zoom.
In recent years, he has appeared in horror films like Some Kind of Hate and M. Night Shyamalan’s The Happening.
Spencer and his sister Abigail Breslin both appear in The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause, which came out the same year as her breakout hit Little Miss Sunshine.
Her biggest hits have been in the horror/sci-fi arena, from Zombieland and Haunter to Scream Queens and Maggie. She also appeared in the award-winning drama August: Osage County.
11. Emily and Haley Joel Osment
Emily Osment first appeared on fan radar in Robert Rodriguez’s Spy Kids film series. She followed that up with a run on Hannah Montana before lending her voice to Kendall in Kick Buttowski.
She broke out of her child star status with a recurring role on the dark sitcom Mom, and she voiced multiple characters on Fox’s Family Guy.
Recently, she played Gabi Diamond, the food blogger turned personal chef on the Freeform series Young & Hungry.
Though both Emily and her brother Haley Joel Osment have appeared on Touched by an Angel, it was not in the same episode, and the only film appearance they share is voice work on the short animated film Edwurd Fudwupper Fibbed Big.
Haley Joel is most well-known for his Oscar-nominated performance in The Sixth Sense. He appeared in the big-budget Spielberg film AI and the drama Pay It Forward. More recently, he can be seen in HBO’s Silicon Valley, IFC’s Comedy Bang! Bang!, and Hulu’s Future Man.
10. Kevin and Matt Dillon
Premiering on the big screen in 1985’s Heaven Help Us, Kevin Dillon made a quick and indelible impression. A year later, he returned to screens in Oliver Stone’s Platoon. He was one of the heroic teens in the remake of The Blob, and he returned to work with Stone again in The Doors.
He had short runs on NYPD Blue and 24, and in 2004, he received the role for which he is most well-known: Johnny ‘Drama’ on the HBO series Entourage.
He has had trouble finding another role after Entourage (and its feature film), though, appearing in the quickly cancelled How to Be a Gentleman.
Before Kevin’s 1985 debut, older brother Matt Dillon was already known for Francis Ford Coppola’s The Outsiders and Rumble Fish, as well as the nostalgia comedy The Flamingo Kid.
He cultivated a collection of impressive indies in the 1980s and 1990s, including Drugstore Cowboy, Singles, and The Saint of Fort Washington. Even up to 2015’s Wayward Pines, Matt Dillon has consistently been a popular presence in film and television.
9. Joseph and Ralph Fiennes
Joseph Fiennes was only three years into his acting career when he appeared in two Oscar-winning films in 1998: Shakespeare in Love and Elizabeth. He followed those up with more period pieces like Enemy at the Gates, Merchant of Venice, and Luther.
From film, he journeyed to event television, taking the lead role in ABC’s mystery series Flashforward. He followed the cancelled series a year later with Starz’s Camelot, playing young Merlin.
He did a season-long arc on American Horror Story, and is currently appearing on Hulu’s dystopian thriller The Handmaid’s Tale.
Joseph Fiennes’ older brother has his share of Oscar-nominated films as well, including Schindler’s List, Quiz Show, The English Patient, and The End of the Affair. Though he is great in Shakespearean work like Coriolanus, Ralph Fiennes also does well in popular films like Red Dragon and Clash of the Titans.
8. Lars and Mads Mikkelsen
Though Lars Mikkelsen appeared in many Danish TV series and movies, it was 2004’s Better Times and the original Danish version of The Killing that brought him to international attention.
He followed that crimes series up with another one, Those Who Kill, in 2011. He played the villain in season three of BBC’s Sherlock, then appeared in the horror mystery When Animals Dream.
He made the jump to American television in 2015, playing the Russian president Viktor Petrov in House of Cards and voicing the villainous Grand Admiral Thrawn in the animated Star Wars: Rebels series.
Lars appeared in the fact-based World War II drama Flame and Citron with his brother Mads Mikkelsen in 2008.
By that point, Mads was internationally known for his performances in the Pusher film series, Casino Royale, and the Susanne Bier’s film After the Wedding. He would go on to appear in Doctor Strange, the Star Wars franchise, and in NBC’s Hannibal, playing the memorable title role.
7. Jon and Ben Foster
Jon Foster’s acting career began with small TV roles and as Kevin Costner’s son in the film Thirteen Days.
He was a recurring performer on the TV series Danny and Life As We Know It, and acted alongside Jeff Bridges in Door in the Floor. He had a small role in Terminator 3 and headlined the horror thriller Stay Alive.
He returned to TV with Windfall and Accidentally On Purpose, and appeared in the adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis’ novel The Informers. Recently, he appeared in the lead role in the hybrid narrative/found footage horror thriller film Mr. Jones.
He has appeared on-screen twice with his brother Ben Foster, in the science fiction thriller Pandorum and the crime drama Rampart.
Ben already had an impressive resume at the time, from Freaks and Geeks to Six Feet Under to 30 Days of Night. He has appeared in two Oscar-nominated films, The Messenger and Hell or High Water, and appeared in the third film in the popular Marvel series X-Men: The Last Stand.
6. Donnie and Mark Wahlberg
Donnie Wahlberg’s career began not as an actor, but as a singer in the New Kids on the Block. He ventured into film in Ron Howard’s kidnap thriller Ransom, and had a small but pivotal role in M. Night Shyamalan’s The Sixth Sense.
His TV credits, from Band of Brothers to Boomtown, kept him in the public eye for much of the early 2000s.
He entertained horror audiences with roles in the Saw franchise and Dead Silence. He is known for playing police officers, from appearances on Rizzoli & Isles to the film Righteous Kill to his current role on the hit series Blue Bloods.
Donnie has appeared with his brother Mark Wahlberg on the reality series Wahlburgers, and Mark Wahlberg also started his career as a musician, Marky Mark.
However, his film career grew quickly. From his star-making performance in Boogie Nights, he went on to big-budget films like Planet of the Apes, The Departed, and The Other Guys. Currently, he can be seen in three franchises: Transformers, Daddy’s Home, and Ted.
5. Joel and Bill Murray
Joel Murray’s career began with an appearance in the 1980s cult comedy One Crazy Summer. He had a small role in Bobcat Goldthwait’s film Shakes the Clown and was the voice of the dog Beethoven (?!) in the animated series based on the film.
He had recurring roles in both Dharma & Greg and Still Standing, and later appeared in the Showtime series Shameless. He’s had a renaissance of late, appearing in Peak TV series like Mad Men, The Leftovers, and American Gods.
Joel Murray popped up in a small role in his brother Bill Murray’s film Scrooged. By then, Bill Murray had already seen the success of Meatballs and Ghostbusters.
He went on to make a sequel to Ghostbusters, the classic comedy Groundhog Day, and Wes Anderson’s Rushmore.
Murray continued a successful series of collaborations with Anderson including Moonrise Kingdom and The Grand Budapest Hotel and starred in St. Vincent, as well as a brilliantly funny cameo in the horror-comedy Zombieland.
4. Beau and Jeff Bridges
As the son of famed actor Lloyd Bridges, Beau Bridges’ career began young, appearing on his Dad’s series Sea Hunt. He made many TV appearances early on in shows like Ben Casey and My Three Sons.
He appeared in the classic drama Norma Rae, and has had a nearly constant presence on television in one series or another for most of the past thirty years.
From Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color to Harts of the West to the relaunch of the classic courtroom series The Defenders, Beau was a staple of family-friendly TV shows.
He joined the cast of the Stargate series and popped up on My Name Is Earl and Masters of Sex. Recently, he had a two-season run on Netflix’s Bloodline.
Beau appeared with his brother Jeff Bridges– playing brothers– in The Fabulous Baker Boys. Jeff Bridges was already remembered for iconic roles in TRON and two Oscar nominated turns in The Last Picture Show and Starman.
3. Stephen and Alec Baldwin
With small roles under his belt, Stephen Baldwin made his acting presence known in 1989’s Last Exit to Brooklyn.
From there, Crossing the Bridge and Threesome raised his profile. In 1995, however, he appeared in his most well-known and well-received film, The Usual Suspects. He squandered the good will of that film, appearing in questionable comedies like Bio-Dome and Half Baked.
After appearing in sequels no one asked for like The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas and Slap Shot 2: Breaking the Ice, Baldwin converted to Christianity and appeared in a series of faith-based films.
Starting with Six: The Mark Unleashed, he also made Midnight Clear and The Genius Club. He also appeared as himself in Fred Claus.
Stephen is one of many Baldwin brothers who act, but the other most famous is undoubtedly Alec Baldwin. From his multiple appearances on Saturday Night Live to his run on 30 Rock to his appearances in The Departed and the Mission: Impossible franchise, Alec is a popular presence in film and on TV.
2. Elle and Dakota Fanning
After a small but memorable role in the family film Because of Winn-Dixie, Elle Fanning’s career blew up with roles in Deja Vu, Babel, and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.
Then, after the science fiction of Super 8, Elle moved into fantasy with Maleficent and The Boxtrolls and biographical drama in Trumbo.
Recently, she starred in a set of moody, darkly tinged films from arthouse directors that both discuss female roles and empowerment: Nicolas Winding Refn’s The Neon Demon and Sofia Coppola’s The Beguiled. She is currently filming a biopic of Frankenstein author Mary Shelley.
Elle played a younger version of the character her sister, Dakota Fanning, played in 2001’s I Am Sam, which was Dakota’s breakout role.
Dakota followed it up with parts in Man on Fire, War of the Worlds, and Charlotte’s Web. She played more adult roles in The Runaways and Every Secret Thing, and is remembered for her recurring role as the villainous Jane in the popular Twilight movie franchise.
1. Luke and Chris Hemsworth
Luke Hemsworth started acting in Australia in the early 2000s, appearing on the series Last Man Standing and the long-running series Neighbours. Moving into film from television, he appeared in the crime films The Reckoning and Kill Me Three Times.
With two science fiction films under his belt, 2014’s The Anomaly and 2015’s Infini, Luke Hemsworth was cast in a recurring role on HBO’s Westworld as Ashley Stubbs, the head of security in the futuristic theme park. He can also be seen as Wild Bill Hickok in this year’s western film Hickok.
Luke appeared in an uncredited cameo with his brother Chris Hemsworth on a 2015 episode of Saturday Night Live.
By that point, Chris had already played Thor and Captain Kirk’s father in Star Trek. He went on to appear in The Cabin in the Woods, Snow White and the Huntsman, and Ghostbusters, and his run as Thor stretched to a full franchise and spilled over into The Avengers and other Marvel cinematic films.
Can you think of any other actors with famous siblings? Let us know in the comments!
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