Somewhere deep down, most parents hope that their children will follow in their footsteps. The common stereotype is that doctors always want their kids to be doctors, but the same is true for all walks of life. Actors are no different. We live in an age where Hollywood actors are in the spotlight more than ever before. They share their opinions on politics and at a certain point are expected to join causes for what they believe in.
Because of these, actors’ offspring are often in the spotlight from an early age. Sometimes it’s their names that catch people’s attention, and other times their parents are so famous that we can’t help but eat up every bit of information we receive about them. We need to know who they’re marrying, who they’re divorcing, and certainly who their offspring are.
Basically, the children of actors often have little choice but to become actors themselves. Sometimes, they outdo their parents. Other times, they never get the chance. Then there are those rare occasions when the children become more famous for all the wrong reasons.
Here we’re taking a look at 11 Famous Actors Who Live In Their Parents’ Shadows (And 7 Who Outshine Them).
18. Overshadowed: Charlie Sheen
It’s not like Charlie Sheen isn’t a household name. Martin Sheen’s youngest son rose to prominence in the mid ’80s and kept up a solid winning streak. He also went through a period of substance abuse which culminated in him being fired from his hugely popular sitcom Two and a Half Men in 2011. He subsequently went into a public meltdown.
His father’s career, on the other hand, has continued to prosper over decades. His film and TV credits are legion. On top of that, he’s a vocal political activist. He’s gone to bat for everything from the environment to gay marriage.
Most recently, Charlie Sheen publicly revealed that he is living with HIV. It should be noted that his father called him brave for making this information known and continues to support him. And hey, in terms of successful offspring, there’s always Emilio.
17. Overshadowed: Colin Hanks
Colin Hanks has one of those faces that makes people go “I recognize that guy!” For a lot of people, he’s the crazy guy from the worst season of Dexter. More recently, he’ll maintain passing recognition as the guy at the end of Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle. He’s had his share of roles, but has yet to prove himself as a truly bankable lead.
As David Letterman would say, his father needs no introduction. This is the guy Barack Obama called “America’s Dad” before bestowing the Presidential Medal of Freedom on him in 2016. He’s given us some of pop culture’s most memorable characters.
16. Outshined: Chris Pine
Chris is a good name for an actor in a major tent pole franchise to have. Chris Pine’s entrance into the world of expanded universes was an explosive one. The moment he sat in that captain’s chair in the Star Trek‘s 2009 soft reboot, he was James T. Kirk. That role has continued through three films, with a fourth one on the way.
And he hasn’t stopped there. Pine has made his way into the super hero game with his appearance in Wonder Woman last year. In that, he became the latest Chris to play a guy name Steve who crashed a plane to save the world a long time ago. It’s entirely possible he may return for the sequel.
His father Robert has had a respectable career. He had a main role in CHiPs. He’s even popped up in a few movies, albeit mostly in cameo roles. He hasn’t retired or anything, but at 76 it is highly unlikely for him to make the kind of dent his son is already making.
15. Overshadowed: Rumer Willis
The good news is that Rumer Willis won season 20 of Dancing with the Stars. The bad news is that she was on Dancing with the Stars. That’s not exactly a sign of a healthy career.
Her mother Demi Moore has had a respectable run and father Bruce Willis’ career has been the stuff of legends. His character John McClane has become the blue print for action heroes. An interesting fact about Bruce is that he’s also a real estate mogul.
On the bright side, there will be another Die Hard film. The franchise will have a chance to redeem itself after the last entry. Rumer is confirmed to be on board as John McClane’s daughter Holly. You may remember that role was previously occupied by Mary Elizabeth Winstead in Live Free or Die Hard.
14. Overshadowed: The Smith Kids
Here’s a fun fact: Jaden and Willow are the gender reversed versions of Will and Jada. That’s right. Will and Jada literally made sure their kids would never leave their shadows.
Will Smith is a classic rags to riches story. His mother was a school board worker and his father owned a refrigeration company. On the merit of his own talent and intelligence, Smith has become one of Hollywood’s most bankable leading men.
The opposite is true for his kids. Jaden and Willow were born into insane wealth. They’ve both started young in the entertainment industry, but have yet to make the types of waves their father was making at their age. Instead, they share pseudo spiritual jargon on social media and release songs about the direction their hair whips. (Looking at you Willow.) Recently, the big news is that they have moved out of their parents’ house. Whether or not they will live up to their family hype remains to be seen.
13. Outshined: Ben Stiller
Sure, people recognize Jerry Stiller. You can’t be a Seinfeld fan and not love George’s dad. He’s had a decent career and he’s also one of the few older celebrities to have maintained a lasting marriage. He married his comedy partner Anne Meara and they couple stayed together right up until her death in 2015.
His son Ben, however, has become a comedy legend. He was given his own show titled The Ben Stiller Show in 1989, where he worked with other major comedy names like Bob Odenkirk and Jeanine Garofalo. Along with other frequent collaborators in a group known as the frat pack, he’s given us characters like Derek Zoolander. He’s been nominated for and won numerous awards.
12. Overshadowed: Billie Lourd
Billie Lourd is well on her way to becoming typecast as a scream queen. Not that that’s a bad thing, but horror movie stars typically don’t make it into too many mainstream headlines. Her first outing in the area titled Scream Queens (obviously) has been moderately well received. She also played two roles in the latest season of American Horror Story.
Her mother, the late Carrie Fisher, had a career that’s tough to beat. She starred in the cult classic The Blues Brothers. She’s won Emmy awards for appearances on shows like 30 Rock. And oh yeah, she’s Princess Leia – one one of the most important roles in cinematic history.
In 2017, she was posthumously honored with the Disney Legend award. The latest Star Wars film, The Last Jedi, was her final performance and was dedicated to her memory. Billie had a small part in it as well.
11. Overshadowed: Eva Amurri
What can be said about Susan Sarandon? For starters, she was recently tapped as the new co-head of the Artists for Peace and Justice organization. She will be one half of a team who replaces Paul Haggis, who was fired over allegations of sexual misconduct. Sarandon will share the job with Ben Stiller, who you may remember from earlier in this list. This is just the latest in a long line of activist activities for Sarandon. And, oh yeah, she’s a pretty well known actress too.
We don’t mean to downplay Eva Amurri’s life accomplishments. She is a mother of two, which alone is commendable. But in terms of her professional career, she just doesn’t hold a candle to her mother. She’s appeared on a bunch of shows including Friends, Californication, and How I Met Your Mother but she’s never been a highlight in any of them.
10. Outshined: Gwyneth Paltrow
Blythe Danner is not an easy woman to outdo. She has a few awards to her name: she won a Tony Award for her performance in Butterflies are Free and two Emmy awards for her work in Huff. She has been nominated for a great deal more. She has an easily recognizable face for any fan of TV and film, and she’s even a modest activist.
She’s probably incredibly proud of her daughter Gwyneth Paltrow, who has outdone her in almost every way. She’s also an activist, and has even dabbled in the fashion and food worlds. In terms of awards, Gwyneth has an Oscar. In terms of acting profile, she’s Pepper Potts. For those of you not in the know, that means she’s one half of the couple that equips and funds the Avengers. She’s even enjoyed a modest singing career.
9. Overshadowed: Harley Quinn Smith
Speaking of Hollywood parents and strange baby name choices, Kevin Smith chose to name his daughter after the Joker’s famous love interest. We have to question that choice.
Kevin Smith may be the king of all nerds. If you only recognize him from one thing, it may be his portrayal of Silent Bob in the Clerks series, which he also wrote and directed.
Young Harley Quinn told Vanity Fair that she needs to grind “twice as hard because her father is a director.” Despite this, most of her credits to date have been in films helmed by her father. This trend seems set to continue in 2018 with Kevin Smith’s next project Hollyweed. She will play – you guessed it – Smith’s daughter.
8. Overshadowed: John David Washington
Recently, John David Washington was nominated for an NAACP award for his work on Ballers. The nomination was Outstanding Suporting Actor in a Comedy Series, but he was beaten by Jay Ellis. To be fair, Washington initially wanted to be a professional football player. He was a standout player in the now defunct United Football League. Basically, he switched to acting pretty late in the game.
Unfortunately, that means his career may never reach the dizzying heights of his father’s. Yes, Denzel Washington has been in his share of stinkers. Which actor hasn’t? He’s also won two Academy Awards, and was even nominated for one as a director. He’s a prolific philanthropist.
7. Outshined: Jeff and Beau Bridges
It’s hard to figure out which of the Bridges brothers is more successful. Beau has won more awards overall, but he’s never won an Academy award. Jeff on the other hand has won an Oscar for his work in Crazy Heart and been nominated for six others over his career. What is obvious, though, is that both brothers have outperformed their father Lloyd.
That’s no small feat. Lloyd Bridges himself has had an extremely successful career. In the early’ 60s, he even had his own show. In fact, that’s where his two sons got their start in show business. He must have been very proud. Like Jerry Stiller, Lloyd Bridges also enjoyed a long and happy marriage. He married fellow actress Dorothy Simpson in 1938 and the couple remained together until Lloyd’s death in 1998.
6. Outshined: Angelina Jolie
For a while, Angelina Jolie wouldn’t even talk to Jon Voight. Their feud has been extremely public. Voight walked out on his family when Jolie was just an infant. Rumors that he abused his ex-wife and children mentally have followed him for years. He even once claimed on national television that Jolie has mental problems. In the last few years, the two have been on speaking terms again.
As for Jolie, her career has not suffered the ugliness of her father’s. While the tabloid media has tried to profit from her high-profile relationships, its always been her work as a philanthropist that has really shone. She and her most recent ex-husband Brad Pitt have adopted three children. She has served as an ambassador for the UNHCR and has been very vocal in the fight for women’s rights.
5. Overshadowed: Lily Rose Depp
To be fair, Lily Rose Depp hasn’t really had a chance yet. She only recently turned 18 and her acting resume is very short. Unfortunately, because tabloids are what they are, that doesn’t mean she’s been kept out of the spotlight.
As previously mentioned, she is a frequent collaborator of Harley Quinn Smith. The two appeared in Tusk and reprised their roles in its spin off Yoga Hosers. They even sang three songs together for that film’s soundtrack.
She definitely has a long way to go if she wants to gain the same level of recognition as her father. Johnny Depp has been the king of weird roles for a very long time. Fortunately, along with her godfather Marilyn Manson, Lily Rose has a couple of really solid role models to show her the unconventional path to super stardom.
4. Outshined: Emma Roberts
To be clear, Emma Roberts is not Julia Roberts’ daughter; she’s her niece. Emma is Eric Roberts’ daughter. Eric is Julia’s brother. Good, now that we’ve got that cleared up, on with it.
Eric Roberts has definitely been in movies. He was that criminal in The Dark Knight. He’s also definitely been on TV. He was that criminal on Brooklyn Nine-Nine. He’s also definitely been to jail. He was that criminal who was arrested on charges of cocaine possessions.
His daughter has already arguably outdone him. At the age of 12 she already had a starring role in the Nickelodeon series Unfabulous. At the age of 15 she won a Young Artist Award for her role in the film Aquamarine. Since then, her career has continued to blossom, most notably with three well received roles on American Horror Story. Like her aunt, Emma is beautiful and has a scene-stealing charisma that is sure to keep her successful for years to come.
3. Overshadowed: Scott Eastwood
Scott Eastwood is certainly a handsome fellow. His winning smile and chiseled features have assured him a successful modeling career. In terms of acting, his record is more hit or miss. He was in Snowden, but he was also in Suicide Squad. For what it’s worth, he was nominated for a Teen Choice award for the latter.
His father’s controversial career speaks for itself. Whether you love Clint Eastwood or you hate him, you undoubtedly know exactly who he is. He’s won so many awards he probably doesn’t know where to put half of them. That list includes no less than four Academy awards.
2. Outshined: Jennifer Aniston
Here’s something a lot of people probably didn’t know: Jennifer Aniston’s father is a respected TV actor in his own right. He has been a member of the cast of the popular daytime soap opera Days of our Lives since 1985. The year after he began that role, he won two Soap Opera Digest Awards.
Of course, being a soap opera mainstay does not hold a candle to what Jennifer Aniston has accomplished with her time in the spotlight. As of 2017, her net worth was estimated at upwards of $200 million. In 2012, she received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. She is widely considered to be one of the most beautiful actresses in Hollywood.
Heck, in the ’90s even her hair was famous. Dubbed “The Rachel” after the character she played on Friends, the hairstyle helped catapult the show into the stratosphere of super stardom and was mimicked by girls all over the world.
1. Overshadowed: All of Meryl Streep’s Kids
Meryl Streep has four children: three daughters named Mamie Gummer, Louisa Gummer, and Grace Gummer, and a son named Henry Wolf. She’s won three Academy Awards. She’s also been nominated for and won so many other awards it’s almost dizzying. She is widely considered to be the finest actress of her generation. Streep earned this title by accepting roles from with all accents from all walks of life.
Streep is a hardworking political activist and humanitarian, and along with the previously mentioned Tom Hanks, was awarded with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2016.
Her children all of acting careers to varying degrees of success. Some of them have even managed to win awards. But when your mother has the kind of career longevity and recognition that Meryl Streep has, it is almost impossible to break out from under that shadow.
Can you think of any other actors who may still live in their parents’ shadow? How about ones who broke away and outshone them? Let us know in the comments!
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