Hollywood Nepotism: 13 Stars With Helpful Family Connections

Finding success as an actor is tough – unless you have family in the business, in which case you’re a step ahead of the rest. Sure, you could try to start your career the old-fashioned way: hone your craft, audition, hustle for roles, take rejection, etc. But if you have rellies connected to the industry, well, it’s always been about who you know. We’re not besmirching these stars’ talent or work ethic. But getting your foot in the door is the hardest thing, unless you’re one of the following…

Daniel Radcliffe

Daniel Radcliffe won the role of a lifetime when he out-muscled American upstarts like ‘Jerry Maguire’ squirt Jonathan Lipnicki for the soon-to-be-iconic role of Harry Potter.

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But he may’ve had some help. Radcliffe’s dad is a literary agent with connections in the industry, and his mum worked as a casting director – a dream combination when you’re looking to star in a film based on a book. His folks initially turned down the audition, but series producer David Heyman spotted him in the audience at the theatre and the rest is history.

Emma Watson

Watson’s parents Jacqueline and Chris are well-respected lawyers focusing on the entertainment field. In other words, they’ve been in and around showbiz and the types who populate it all their lives. Emma herself went to a theatre school, Stagecoach Theatre Arts in Oxford, where she appeared in various productions (including playing an angry cook in Alice in Wonderland) until scooping the role of Hermione in the ‘Harry Potter’ series.

Kristen Stewart

The raw, natural talent we saw in ‘Twilight’ is what made her famous, obviously. But having a dad (John Stewart) whos’s an influential movie producer with friends in high places can’t have hurt. Mum Jules is also a script supervisor with her fingers in many pies – she’s soon to direct a movie, ‘K-11’, starring daughter Kristen and newcomer son Cameron. Maybe he’ll be found starring in a supernatural love triangle near you soon.

Keira Knightley

Shot to fame in ‘Bend It Like Beckham’ as “the sexiest tomboy beanpole on the planet”, Keira went on to become one of England’s greatest exports: an Oscar-nominated, A-list actress who never lost her British plumminess. But did you know that Knightley’s mother, Sharman MacDonald, was a well-known playwright (she wrote Keira’s movie ‘The Edge Of Love’) and that her father, Will Knightley, is a notable actor of stage and screen? You do now. Not that this diminishes her fame, but… well, let’s just say ‘Bend It Like Beckham’ wasn’t that good.

Eva Amurri

Hollywood actors are not averse to throwing a few bones to their kids. Susan Sarandon, however, has been passing down scraps to daughter Eva Amurri her whole life. Aged nine, Amurri played her mother’s character’s younger self in ‘Dead Man Walking’ and repeated the same trick in ‘That’s My Boy’. She also starred alongside mother dearest in ‘The Banger Sisters’, ‘Anywhere But Here’, ‘Middle Of Nowhere’ and an episode of ‘Friends’. Next up? ‘Mother’s Day’, opposite… you guessed it. Dad Tim Robbins is also guilty of ‘Bring Your Daughter To Work Syndrome’: young Eva also appeared in ‘Bob Roberts’.

Dakota Johnson

What do you get when you combine ‘Working Girl’ and ‘Miami Vice’? The daughter of Melanie Griffith and Don Johnson hasn’t just benefitted from having famous parents – she had a famous step-dad too. Johnson got her big break (alongside her sister) in ‘Crazy In Alabama’, starring mum Melanie and directed by her then-partner Antonio Banderas. Ironically, she’s about to go into the stratosphere thanks to ‘Fifty Shades Of Grey’, a film her parents publically stated they didn’t want her to star in.

Chris Pine

No one is questioning Captain Kirk’s natural charisma, but when you learn that Chris Pine’s dad, actor Robert Pine, is a performer of repute (he’s starred in the likes of ‘Independence Day’, ‘Lakeview Terrance’ and cop show ‘ChiPs’) it’s a little easier to understand how he aced the audition for the helm of the Enterprise. Consider the fact his grandfather Max M Gilford is the former President of the Hollywood Bar Association and Pine’s destiny looked set from birth.

Macaulay Culkin

Possibly the most successful child star of all time (with apologies to Shirley Temple), Culkin’s dad Kit was an actor and his aunt is Bonnie Bedelia, aka Mrs John McClane from ‘Die Hard’. In other words, Mac was never going to be anything other than a performer. He even went to the Professional Children’s School, a New York prep specifically catering to aspiring child actors. Good to start early after all.

Zooey Deschanel

Deschanel has made a name for herself playing flighty beauties on-screen. Her dad Caleb has made his living making everything look beautiful for the camera as a five-time-Oscar-nominated cinematographer. Zooey’s sister is actress Emily, best known for being the lead in TV’s ‘Bones’, as well as appearing in ‘My Sister’s Keeper’ and ‘Glory Road’.

Nicolas Cage

He may have changed his name to avoid comparisons, but that doesn’t mean Nic hasn’t benefitted from being part of the Coppola clan. Hollywood is a small town. Francis Ford is his uncle and while Cage didn’t initially want to capitalise on that connection, running lines with the other actors during the Coppola-directed ‘Rumble Fish’ auditions ended with him being in that film and then he was also in ‘The Cotton Club’. Cheers, Uncle Frank!

Léa Seydoux

She broke out in saucy French flick ‘Blue Is The Warmest Colour’, but the talented Gaul has also appeared in ‘Robin Hood’ and ‘Inglourious Basterds’. She has been at pains to point out that her family background hasn’t helped her career. But let’s face it – if you grandpa is the chairman of Pathé and your granduncle head of the Gaumont film company (which has over 900 movies in its back catalogue and is considered a mini-major studio in France), it can only be a plus. And then if you grew up surrounded by stars like Mick Jagger, Lou Reed and Christian Louboutin? Those connections don’t add much credence to Seydoux’s protestations.

Jake Gyllenhaal

Jake (and his sister Maggie) are talented performers with a penchant for taking on daring material. But they got their start predominantly thanks to director dad Stephen and screenwriter mother Naomi Foner. The star has admitted he grew up on movie sets, his first agent was a friend’s mother and many of his early roles were in family-made projects, like ‘A Dangerous Woman’ and ‘Homegrown’.

Drew Barrymore

Steven Spielberg is her Godfather. Enough said.

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