On-Screen Families Played By Actual Relatives

Sometimes, the most authentic way to capture a family relationship in a movie is to cast people who are actually related. Whether they are siblings, parent and child, or even husband and wife, their interactions can appear much more organic and therefore convincing. Take a look to see which actors have acted as families on-screen and are related as well.

Jake And Maggie Gyllenhaal – Donnie Darko

Picture from Donnie Darko
Pandora Cinema
Pandora Cinema

2001’s Donnie Darko is a science fiction psychological thriller about a troubled teenager named Donnie Darko who is visited by a supernatural figure that warns him of the end of the world and coaxes him into committing crimes.

In the film, Jake Gyllenhaal plays the title character of Donnie while his sister, Maggie, plays Donnie’s older sister Elizabeth. This could be the reason why their arguments at the dinner table sound so organic at times.

Will And Jaden Smith – The Pursuit of Happyness And After Earth

Picture from The Pursuit of Happyness
Sony Pictures
Sony Pictures

Will Smith and his son Jaden have been lucky enough to work on not one but two films together in their careers. Their first was in the 2006 film, Pursuit of Happyness, in which a struggling father tries to support him and his son.

Not only was this Jaden’s film debut, but both actors were nominated for several awards for their performances. Another is the science fiction film After Earth, about a father and son in the 31st century fighting for survival on Earth after it is no longer habitable for humans.

Leslie Mann, Maude, And Iris Apatow – Knocked Up and This Is 40

Picture from Knocked Up
Universal Pictures
Universal Pictures

Leslie Mann is a well-known comic actress with one of her most memorable roles in the 2007 comedy Knocked Up, where she plays Debbie, the wife of Paul Rudd’s character, Pete. In the film, Mann’s daughters Maude and Iris also play her on-screen daughters Sadie and Charlotte.

The three would reprise their roles again in the 2012 spin-off comedy, This Is 40. To top it all of, Judd Apatow, Mann’s husband and the father of their children, also wrote and directed the two films.

Gwyneth Paltrow And Blythe Danner – Sylvia

Picture from Sylvia
Focus Features
Focus Features

Sylvia is a 2004 biographical drama starring Gwyneth Paltrow and Daniel Craig about the real relationship between poets Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes. The film follows the couple from their first meeting at Cambridge in 1956 to Plath’s ultimate suicide in 1963.

In the movie, Gwyneth Paltrow plays Sylvia Plath who eventually goes to visit her mother, Aurelia Plath, played by Blythe Danner who is Paltrow’s actual mother. Overall, the film reviewed mixed reviews although Paltrow was hailed for her performance.

Henry And Jane Fonda – On Golden Pond

Picture from On Golden Pond
Universal Pictures
Universal Pictures

On Golden Pond is a 1981 family drama film that features Henry Fonda as Norman Thayer and his daughter Jane as Norman’s estranged daughter, Chelsea. Ironically, Norman and Chelsea’s relationship in the movie isn’t far from what Henry and Jane shared in real life, as they never had much of a relationship.

This would be the first and only time Henry and Jane would work together, as it would also be Henry’s final theatrical film.

Angelina Jolie And Vivian Jolie-Pitt – Maleficent

Picture from Maleficent
Walt Disney Pictures
Walt Disney Pictures

In 2014, Angelina Jolie starred alongside her daughter, Vivienne Jolie-Pitt, in Maleficent, which tells the story of Sleeping Beauty from the antagonist’s perspective. While Jolie plays the haunting Maleficent, her daughter Vivian plays the adorable Princess Aurora.

According to Jolie, Vivien got the part in the film because she was the only child that wasn’t horrified of Jolie in her costume. When speaking with Vanity Fair, Jolie explained, “It had to be a child that liked me and wasn’t afraid of my horns and my eyes and my claws. So it had to be Viv.”

Charlie And Martin Sheen – Wall Street

Picture from Wall Street
20th Century Fox
20th Century Fox

Directed by Oliver Stone, Wall Street is a drama film about a young stockbroker that becomes involved with a greedy Wall Street player that shows him how to immorally work the stock market.

When casting, Stone already knew that he wanted Charlie Sheen to play the role of Bud Fox, as he had already worked with him on Platoon and liked his style of acting. Stone then approached Sheen’s father, Martin, to play Bud Fox’s father in the film, which he agreed to because he related to the character.

Angelina Jolie And Jon Voight – Laura Croft: Tomb Raider

Picture from Tomb Raider
Paramount Pictures
Paramount Pictures

Starring Angelina Jolie, Laura Croft: Tomb Raider is an action-adventure film based on the video game character Lara Croft, who has to keep ancient artifacts from falling into the hands of the Illuminati.

Before the film’s release, Jolie already had a rocky relationship with her father, John Voight, but asked director Simon West to cast him for the role of Lord Richard Croft, Laura Croft’s father. However, that didn’t mend their relationship, as Jolie would drop the “Voight” from her name just a year later.

Dan And Eugene Levy – Schitt’s Creek

Picture from Schitt's Creek
Netflix
Netflix

Schitt’s Creek is a sitcom about the Rose family that were once wealthy that loses their house and is forced to move to a town that they had purchased in the past as a joke. Schitt’s Creek was created by the father and son duo Eugene and Dan Levy, who also star in the show as Johnny and David Rose, with the primary concept coming from Dan Levy.

The show saw initial success after its first few seasons on CBC in Canada before becoming wildly popular after streaming on Netflix after its third season.

Sylvester And Sage Stallone – Rocky V

Picture from Rocky V
MGM
MGM

Leading up to 1990’s Rocky V, Sylvester Stallone, and his son Sage didn’t have the greatest relationship, and it showed on screen between their characters Rocky Balboa and Rocky Balboa Jr.

Sage had even admitted that he wasn’t always acting, especially during the scene when he yells, “You never spent time with me! You never spent time with my mother!” However, Sage would later tell People that working with his father helped them reconcile some differences. Unfortunately, Sage would pass away at the young age of 36.

Meryl Streep And Mamie Gummer – Ricki And The Flash

Picture from Ricki And The Flash
Sony Pictures
Sony Pictures

Ricki And The Flash is a musical comedy-drama starring Meryl Streep as a woman that leaves her family to become a rock star and later tries to make amends about her decision. Released in 2015, the film also stars Mamie Gummer, Streep’s daughter, who also plays her daughter in the movie.

In an interview with Variety, Gummer commented that she wasn’t intimidated by working with her mother and that she is maybe one of the five people on the planet that aren’t.

John Krasinski And Emily Blunt – A Quiet Place

Picture from A Quiet Place
Paramount Pictures
Paramount Pictures

Written and directed by John Krasinski, A Quiet Place tells the story of a family’s fight for survival after Earth has been taken over by an alien species that rely on sound to hunt humans.

Krasinski also stars in the film along with his wife, Emily Blunt, who is also his wife in the movie. Krasinski commented, “Emily had actually recommended several different actresses based on my pitch of some of the scenes. Her being in the movie, we really hadn’t even considered.” But it turned out to be the right decision.

Tom And Colin Hanks – The Great Buck Howard

Picture from the Great Buck Howard
Magnolia Pictures
Magnolia Pictures

Over the years, Tom Hanks and his son, Colin, have worked together on several projects with their first being in 1996’s That Thing You Do! This film was not only Hanks’ directorial debut but also Colin’s first film.

Then, in 2008, the two shared the screen when Colin starred in The Great Buck Howard, and Tom Hanks made an appearance as his character’s father. The final project that the father and son have both worked on was the 2013 film Parkland, which Tom Hanks produced and his son acted in.

Owen And Luke Wilson – Around The World In 80 Days

Picture from Around the World in 80 Days
Walt Disney Pictures
Walt Disney Pictures

Both known for their comedic roles, brothers Owen and Luke Wilson have shared the screen in several movies including Bottle Rocket in 1996, The Royal Tenenbaums in 2001, and Wendell Baker Story in 2005.

However, they never portrayed brothers in any of their movies and had only been friends, neighbors, and coworkers in their roles. Yet, in 2004’s, Around The World In 80 Days, Luke and Owen Wilson portray Orville Wright and Wilbur Wright respectively.

Bruce And Rumor Willis – Hostage

Picture from Hostage
Miramax Films
Miramax Films

2005’s hostage saw Bruce Willis as a former hostage negotiator that has to save his own family in a hostage situation. Interestingly, Bruce Willis’s daughter Rumer approached her father to see if she could play his character’s daughter in the movie.

However, Willis wasn’t just going to give her the role and ensured that she went through the audition like any other actor. Willis went on to explain that his daughter’s presence made the movie that much more emotional and helped him get into character.

Kirk, Michael, And Cameron Douglas – It Runs In The Family

Picture from It Runs in the Family
MGM
MGM

It Runs in the Family is a 2003 comedy-drama that follows a New York family tearing at the seams and their attempt to hold it together. The film stars three generations of the Douglas family, which includes Kirk, Michael, and Cameron Douglas, who play Mitchell, Alex, and Asher Gromberg, respectively.

Supposedly, the three men had wanted to make a movie together for some time and even included Diana Douglas as Mitchell’s wife, who is Michael’s actual mother.

Jennifer Connelly And Paul Bettany – Creation

Picture from Creation
Icon Film Distribution
Icon Film Distribution

Jennifer Connelly and Paul Bettany first met on the set of 2001’s A Beautiful Mind, although the two never had the chance to work together as their characters never encountered one another in the film. However, after being married in 2003, the two finally had the chance to work together as husband and wife as Emma and Charles Darwin in the 2009 film Creation.

Not only were they excited to portray another married couple, but they were confident their own relationship wouldn’t get in the way of their performances since their characters were so much different than who they were.

Matthew Perry And John Bennett Perry – Fools Rush In

Picture from Fools Rush In
Columbia Pictures
Columbia Pictures

Matthew Perry has had the pleasure of working with his father, John Bennett Perry, on several occasions, with one of them being in 1997’s Fools Rush In, where John plays Matthew’s character’s father.

However, this wasn’t the only time when Matthew’s father would act as his father on screen, as it also happened in the 2004 episode “My Unicorn” on the sitcom Scrubs. The father and son also shared the screen in an episode of Friends, with John portraying the father of Rachel Green’s boyfriend in the episode “The One with Rachel’s New Dress.”

John And Joan Cusack – Martian Child

Picture from Martian Child
New Line Cinema
New Line Cinema

The Cusack siblings have actually been in several films together, with their first one being in minor roles in the 1983 film Class. In later years, the two would share the screen in other films such as High Fidelity, although they didn’t play siblings, but actually exes!

However, they finally had their chance to portray siblings in the 2007 comedy-drama Martian Child, in which John Cusack’s character adopts a little boy that believes he’s from Mars.

Dakota And Ella Fanning – The Nightingale

Picture of Elle And Dakota Fanning
Jacopo Raule/GC Images
Jacopo Raule/GC Images

Early in both of their acting careers, the Fanning sisters both worked on the same film when Elle played the role of Dakota Fanning’s character’s younger sister in 2001’s, I Am Sam. Yet, the two are now expected to share the screen together as sisters Vianne Mauriac and Isabelle Rossignol in the upcoming film The Nightingale.

The movie is based on the 2015 novel of the same name that follows two sisters that struggle to survive during the German occupation of France during World War II. The film is set to be released in December 2022.