Hollywood is a lot more connected than people think. While most people are aware of the more obvious big name acting families, there are a lot of celebrities pairings across Hollywood that are extended families, some that may even surprise people. It’s not hard to imagine some of them using their connections to help provide them “a foot in the door” so to speak, in Hollywood.
Acting families have been fairly common throughout the history of Hollywood, especially in the early days, but that doesn’t mean these celebs aren’t capable of proving their own worth. In fact, some actors purposely try to keep their family lives and connections totally private to prevent scrutiny – for themselves and their respective family members. On the other hand, we’ve also seen family projects throughout the years, where siblings, cousins, and even sometimes parents and their children have acted in movies and series together.
For those of us who are aware of these off-screen connections, it always adds a unique dynamic to the acting and portrayals within these projects. Of course, there are always pros and cons of these situations, mostly that actors who are related are even more likely to be subjected to constant comparisons. Certain actors may be household names and be considered the ‘elite of Hollywood’ while their family members have kept their acting careers relatively low-key and may not be so easily recognizable.
Without further ado, here is our list of 15 Actors You Had No Idea Are Cousins.
15. Sofia Coppola, Jason Schwartzman, and Nicolas Cage
You might be surprised to learn that these three big name actors are all related, and all under the umbrella of the Coppola acting family, no less.
One of the ‘family dynasties’ of Hollywood, they all stem from Carmine and Italia Coppola, who composed and acted in The Godfather. Even Nicolas Cage’s diehard fans might be surprised to learn that his true name is Nicolas Kim Coppola, making his connection to his cousin Sophia obvious, as well as to the rest of the Coppola family.
While Jason Schwartzman does keep his father’s surname, his mother is Talia Rose Coppola, aunt of both Nicolas and Sophia. The elders in the family made a name for themselves through the iconic Godfather franchise, while the younger generation has become A-List actors in today’s Hollywood in their own right.
14. Tom Cruise and William Mapother
If you were ever a fan of ABC’s Lost, you might remember the creepy antagonist from the first season, Ethan Rom. William Mapother, who played Ethan, didn’t last very long on the show. However, he has done quite a few movies, starring in five alongside fellow actor and first cousin, Tom Cruise.
Cruise and Mapother also mirror each other in the fact that they both share their father’s name, Tom – actually being Thomas Cruise Mapother IV and William being the son of William Mapother Sr. William undoubtedly has an impressive acting resume, however, these two are another great example of an acting family relationship that ‘outshine’ each other, with Tom Cruise being one of the most popular actors in Hollywood.
13. Brooke Shields and Glenn Close
Not many people would think Glenn Close and Brooke Shields are related, but hey, why else would they be on our list?
While only second cousins, once removed, they still claim family ties to each other. Their connection lies with Glenn’s grandfather and Brooke’s great aunt, who were actually siblings. Some acting families are easy to compare in terms of success, but these two have both had very successful careers in their own right.
Despite being related to one another, it isn’t really a talked about topic, nor do they go out of their way to see each other and be involved in each other’s lives as far as we know. Not to say that there is any bad blood; it’s just not uncommon within famous families, especially extended families, to stay independent and private.
12. George Clooney and Miguel Ferrer
Another pair of actors that are related are first cousins George Clooney and the late Miguel Ferrer. They hail from another famous family within the entertainment industry, with Miguel’s mother Rosemary Clooney being a famous singer, and her brother Nick Clooney (George’s father) being a former anchorman and television host.
Unfortunately, Ferrer died in early January 2017 after a battle with throat cancer. The two cousins had always been on good terms and remained close over the years. Of course, while it’s hard to outshine an A-lister like George Clooney, Ferrer had made a name for himself and was quite successful as an actor in his own right. Being so close to one another, George spoke a few words at his memorial to honor his cousin, telling those in attendance, “He came in like a comet, he rocketed through life and got out.” George continues to honor his cousin today through cancer charity works.
11. Sissy Spacek and Rip Torn
We have to imagine that it would be extremely difficult to kickstart an acting career with a legendary actor for a cousin already kicking around Hollywood. Too much to live up to and too much shadow to live under.
For Sissy Spacek, however, whose first cousin is the late Rip Torn, it was the exact opposite. She can actually credit the start of her career to her dearly departed family member, who had introduced her to the famous Lee Strasberg when she decided to pursue acting. Rip even let her move into his apartment in New York City when she began to attend Lee’s Acting Studio, and later on, even the Lee Strasberg Institute.
She had the sweet country girl persona growing up, while Rip always carried himself as a comedian. Not many people knew of these actors’ familial connection, and rightly so, as these two are quite different.
10. Snoop Dogg, Brandy, Ray J, and Sasha Banks
Every young kid today would love to have Snoop Dogg as his cousin. While he may identify with strangers by calling them that, he actually shares his spotlight with his extended family, specifically with his cousins Brandy, Ray J, and WWE wrestler Sasha Banks. Wouldn’t it be interesting to be at those family holiday dinners?
Sasha Banks and Snoop have been very public about having a great relationship, with Sasha tagging along with Snoop as a kid to WWE events and Snoop even doing rap intros for Sasha. Snoop, Brandy, and Ray J have all been close as well, with the three recording singles together over the years and Snoop publicly showing support of Ray J through various trial and tribulations.
9. Gwyneth Paltrow and Katherine Moennig
Who knew that the famous The L Word star Katherine Moennig and A-List actress Gwyneth Paltrow were first cousins? There are definitely similarities between the two, and just like any family members, there are striking differences as well. So much in fact that Hollywood has donned Moenning with the nickname “Alt.Gwyn”. According to the two actresses, they both get along extremely well and have spent time with each other at Paltrow’s home in Pasadena.
At first glance, it’s easy to say that Paltrow has had a more successful career. While that may be true, no one can deny that Katherine is quite an accomplished actress in her own right. Like all famous acting families, there is always a fear of comparison. However, Moenning has stated that, “There really is no comparison at all, our work and lifestyles are completely different.”
8. Martin Lawrence and Christopher Martin
To most people’s surprise, Martin Lawrence received his breakout role as Brilal in the film House Party alongside his unbeknownst cousin, Christopher ‘Play’ Martin.
The revelation that these two are in fact related comes as a surprise to most fans. You won’t find very much evidence to support this fact on the internet, as these two have led very separate lives as well as careers – despite starring in House Party together early on. Nothing suggests that they aren’t on good terms or anything like that, but the odd thing is, they don’t even come up on their list of relatives on their biographies. We’ve seen plenty of celebrity families take the same route of privacy before, but this definitely comes as a shock, especially since their acting and performing styles are so similar.
7. Jenny McCarthy and Melissa McCarthy
While Jenny McCarthy and Melissa McCarthy are indeed cousins, you might not know it. They grew up together in Illinois, and even though Jenny helped Melissa get her first break in Hollywood, the two are “living in opposite worlds” these days. Of course, with every celebrity family, there are plenty of rumors and gossip that surrounds them. They’ve both said that they are still on good terms, but that they just keep to their own lives.
It’s not too farfetched to think that they don’t like each other, especially since Melissa didn’t have any part of or (nor did she even attend) Jenny and Donnie Wahlberg’s wedding. They are very rarely seen in public together either.
6. Jewel and Q’orianka Kilcher
Most people only know Jewel by her one name.
Her full name is actually Jewel Kilcher, making her relationship with her famous first cousin Q’Orianka Kilcher a lot more obvious. Q’Orianka had her breakthrough performance in The New World, where she won several awards for playing Pocahontas opposite Colin Farrell and Christian Bale. In the years since her 2005 breakout, however, while she has undertaken more acting roles, she hasn’t enjoyed quite the same success. Her cousin, on the other hand, has seen nothing but enormous success in her career as a singer/songwriter.
They have yet to take on any joint projects together, but they have worked together through many charity organizations and foundations. They may not look all that much alike, but the pair certainly shares the same humanitarian spirit.
5. Melissa Gorga and Ralph Macchio
One of the more obscure familial connections on our list is the pairing of Ralph Macchio and Melissa Gorga. They are first cousins, connected through Melissa’s Aunt Rosile. The connection was not ever really talked about from either star until Melissa confirmed it on Twitter when a fan asked her about them being related. She responded, “Yes we are!!”
Despite being related, the two won’t be seen together or having family dinners anytime soon it seems, as they haven’t actually ever met (or they haven’t publicly announced such a meet up, anyway). These two are definitely their own kind of star. Ralph achieved his fame through the beloved Karate Kid franchise in the ’80s, of course, while she is a reality TV star.
4. Denis Leary and Conan O’Brien
Another surprising connection in Hollywood is between actor Denis Leary and talk show host Conan O’Brien, who happen to be third cousins. Many people (especially in Ireland) like to joke that all Irish are related, but in this instance, they actually are!
While they’re not best friends, they get along great, and Conan has had Denis on his talk shows multiple times, where they have also occasionally talked about their family ties. Denis Leary focuses more on serious roles in his acting career for the most part, while Conan has a passion for making people laugh. However, you can see the two are cut from the same cloth. They love to goof around and not be too serious. They are both very successful in their own careers, making it hard to really compare the two at all.
3. Matt Damon and Ben Affleck – Tenth Cousins
It’s not hard to imagine that best friends Matt Damon and Ben Affleck could be related, even if it’s as distant as being tenth cousins. Of course, this also means that Damon is then related to Casey Affleck as well. Considering that Matt and Ben began their careers together, it makes for a unique aspect to their friendship. They are both descended from William Knowlton Jr., an English bricklayer who lived during the early 1600s. Such a distant familial tie is usually hard to confirm or track down, but for these two men who endured the highs and lows of Tinseltown together and remained best friends throughout, it’s easy for them to accept.
2. Al Roker and Lenny Kravitz – Second Cousins
It’s always cool to see two beloved celebrities with family ties to each other, and in this case, famous TV personality Al Roker and legendary music artist Lenny Kravitz are indeed second cousins. It doesn’t come as a huge surprise, as Al has confirmed their connection in interviews and is proud to call the rock singer family. They are on great terms according to the both of them, and have been seen photographed together at many various events.
Their connection is through Lenny’s mother, Roxie Roker, who’s Roker’s first cousin. Jokingly playing dumb on occasion, Al Roker has been quoted saying, “All I know is I am going with it. My kids love it.” He even went on to later say that by revealing this family secret, he is giving up his “monthly stipend” from Kravitz.
1. Brad Pitt and President Barack Obama – Ninth Cousins
One of the biggest surprises when it comes to related has got to be Brad Pitt and former President Barack Obama, who are in fact ninth cousins.
They have been confirmed to be connected through Edwin Hickman, who died sometime in the later 1800s. This connection is ironic in the fact that not only do they look nothing alike (for obvious reasons) but because it is also rumored that Hillary Clinton, a close colleague of the 45th President, is also distantly related to Angelina Jolie, who was married to Pitt for several years before the couple divorced earlier this year. They may be related, but former POTUS and the War Machine star don’t maintain any serious relationship. Obama seems to have pretty famous blood, as he’s also distantly related to former Vice President Dick Cheney.
What other big names would folks be surprised to learn are related? Let us know in the comments.
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