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A History of Children Appearing in the Same Film as Their Parents

There are a number of family acting dynasties, but they all don’t get a chance to work together. But sometimes they do. Here’s a historical list of children in the same film with a parent.


Sherlock Jr. (1924)

Buster Keaton (Son) / Joe Keaton (Father)

The Film: A down and out film projectionist with dreams of being a real detective is accused of stealing his girlfriend’s father’s pocket watch and sets out to solve the mystery.

The Family: Buster Keaton plays the young projectionist and his real-life father plays the father of his girlfriend in this charming silent film. Interestingly enough, Buster got his start in Vaudeville where his parents featured him in their act while he was still just a child.


The Searchers (1956)

Patrick Wayne (Son) / John Wayne (Father)

The Film: In this classic Western, a father and Civil War veteran spends years looking for his niece who was captured by Native Americans, but questions arise over the man’s racism and intent on what he will do with the now-assimilated girl.

The Family: Patrick, who was 17-years-old at the time had a very small but significant role as a Yankee solider who eventually divulges the whereabouts of the girl. Patrick would be spotted in a few other John Wayne films over the years but never reached the same level of success.


Tiger Bay (1959)

Hayley Mills (Daughter) / John Mills (Father)

The Film: A 12-year-old tomboy witnesses the murder of a neighborhood woman but lies to polices in oder to keep the gun while slowly forming a friendship with the man who committed the crime.

The Family: John Mills, playing the lead investigator, was already an established and popular actor of the time when he cast his daughter in the pivotal role of a girl, believing she might have the chops to make acting a career. He was right as Hayley became a Disney signature star for years, delighting audiences all over the world.


Whatever Happened to Baby Jane (1962)

Barbara Merrill (Daughter) / Bette Davis (Mother)

The Film: A former vaudeville star lives with her much more successful sister and the two grow bitterly at odds with one slowly controlling the other until the she loses her mind.

The Family: Merrill, who was 15-years-old at the time, and in a minor role, plays the daughter of a next door neighbor. She and her mother were famously resentful of each other, much like Davis’ co-star, Joan Crawford was with her adopted daughter, and they never acted together again.


Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song (1971)

Mario Van Peebles (Son) / Melvin Van Peebles (Father)

The Film: At the time, a highly controversial film about a black male prostitute who must run from the law after he beats two white cops for an atrocious attack on another black man.

The Family: Mario Van Peeples, who was only 14 at the time of shooting, plays his own father at a young age, his character losing his virginity to a prostitute while working as a towel boy in a brothel. Thanks, dad!


Paper Moon (1973)

Tatum O’Neil (Daughter) / Ryan O’Neil (Father)

The Film: Set during the American Depression of the 1930s, a grifter is given charge over a young girl who may or may not be his real daughter and the two set off on a series of adventures.

The Family: Tatum O’Neil, being only 10-years-old at the time, remains (as of this date) the youngest person ever to win an Academy Award, playing a rabble-scrabble kid with a heart of gold, alongside her actual father. Filmed in Black & White film, the two spend almost the entirety of the film together.


On Golden Pond (1981)

Jane Fonda (Daughter) / Henry Fonda (Father)

The Film: Retired professor Norman Thayer (Henry Fonda) and his wife Ethyl (Katharine Hepburn) spend their summers at a quiet cottage on the water and this year, their somewhat estranged daughter Chelsea (Jane Fonda) decides she’s going to visit for her father’s birthday.

The Family: Real-life father/daughter actors play the same in this heartwarming, Oscar-winning drama that packs an emotional punch throughout with both giving very personal and emotional performances. The two share a lot of screen time and is said to mirror their true lives, at least in the distance their characters each share.


Wall Street (1987)

Charlie Sheen (Son) / Martin Sheen (Father)

The Film: Charlie Sheen plays Bud Fox, a young, brash stock broker who catches the eye of ruthless corporate raider Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas) who teaches him the tricks of the trade, including some shady business deals that put Fox in well over his head.

The Family: While Douglas stole the show, Sheen had several scenes with his real-life father, Martin Sheen, who plays Bud’s father and a BlueStar Airlines union leader. This would later get referenced by both men in Hot Shots: Part Deux.


Wild at Heart (1990)

Laura Dern (Daughter) / Diane Ladd (Mother)

The Film: Sailor (Nicholas Cage) is free from jail and desperate to be with his girl Lula (Laura Dern), though not everyone is happy with the ex-con sweeping the lovelorn Lula off to California, and sends a hitman after them to put an end their romance and Sailor’s life.

The Family: Laura Dern’s real-life mother, Diane Ladd, plays Marietta Fortune, Lula’s mother who vehemently despises the thought of Sailor loving her daughter. It’s not the only time this mother/daughter acting team has worked together, with Rambling Rose, Enlightened, and Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore.


Rocky V (1990)

Sage Stallone (Son) / Sylvester Stallone (Father)

The Film: After the heavy weight champ loses it all and ends up back where he started in the low-rent end of Philadelphia, he is betrayed by a fighter he hopes to mentor.

The Family: In a limited but crucial role, Sage plays Rocky Balboa Jr. to his real-life father, a son who doesn’t necessarily want to follow in his father’s footsteps and gets into the wrong crowd as big Rocky spends too much time with his new protege. Unfortunately, Sage passed away in 2012.


Striptease (1996)

Rumer Willis (Daughter) / Demi Moore (Mother)

The Film: After losing her daughter in a bitter divorce settlement, a mother takes to the stripper pole and become entangled with a quirky congressman and a man who has a blackmailing scheme to win back her daughter.

The Family: Demi Moore plays mother to real-life daughter Rumor Willis, who was very young at the time and has a limited role. The two worked briefly together the year before on Now and Then and then Rumer moved on to work with her father (see below).


Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001)

Angelina Jolie-Pitt (Daughter) / Jon Voight (Father)

The Film: An adaptation of the very popular video game series of the same name, the film follows the adventures of a highly-skilled tomb raider out to stop the Illuminati from gaining possession of a secret talisman that will give them the ability to control time.

The Family: Jon Voight plays Lord Richard Croft, the title character’s father, and it makes the only time this father and daughter acting team has ever been on screen together, this because of a personal falling out. Rumors persist they will patch things up and Jon Voight has publicly made appeals to be part any of her future projects. Time will tell.


It Runs in the Family (2003)

Michael Douglas (Son) / Kirk Douglas (Father)

The Film: A tale of a wealthy New York City family who have long been on uneven ground concerning their relationships come together and try to mend their differences.

The Family: Naturally, Kirk Douglas plays father to Michael, though a few other real Douglas family members join the cast as well. Considering the acting legacy of this family, it’s hard to believe this is the only film the famous father and son have ever made together.


Hostage (2005)

Rumer Willis (Daughter) / Bruce Willis (Father)

The Film:  A one-time LAPD negotiator becomes a small-town cop and finds himself embroiled in a hostage situation when a failed robbery attempt creates a tense standoff that becomes personal for the cop.

The Family: Bruce Willis plays the cop and Rumer his daughter in this action thriller that didn’t do so well at the box office. It’s also not the only time they worked together as Rumer had a very small, uncredited role in her father’s early film, The Whole Nine Yards (2001).


The Great Buck Howard (2008)

Colin Hanks (Son) / Tom Hanks (Father)

The Film: A young man named Troy Gable (Colin Hanks) decides to leave law school and a very secure future to pursue his dream as a Hollywood scriptwriter, and to support himself, takes a job as an assistant/manager for a once popular but now fading mentalist named Buck Howard (John Malkovich).

The Family: Tom Hanks, who is Colin’s real-life father, plays his dad here, and isn’t too happy about his boy’s choice to pack up from university and try to make a career as a writer. They don’t share much screen time together but there’s no denying these two are father and son.


Melancholia (2011)

 Alexander Skarsgård (Son) / Stellan Skarsgård (Father)

The Film: An estranged family comes together for an extravagant wedding on the same day a mysterious blue planet called Melancholia is streaking toward Earth on a path of avoidable world-ending destruction.

The Family: Alexander Skarsgård plays Michael, Justine’s (Kirsten Dunst) new husband while Stellan Skarsgård plays Justine’s single-minded boss in this trippy, thought-provoking drama from Lars Von Triers.


Maleficent (2014)

Vivienne Jolie-Pitt (Daughter) / Angelina Jolie-Pitt (Mother)

The Film: A Disney fairy tale with a twist, it tells the story of the once kind-spirited Maleficent who is horribly betrayed and so goes on a vengeful quest to curse the first born daughter of the King, or so she plans.

The Family: Vivienne Jolie-Pitt plays the very young Princess Aurora in a brief scene with her real-life mother Angelina Jolie-Pitt as the titular character. Cute as a button, the little girl, only 2-years old at the time, seems to enjoy playing alongside her imposing (and scary looking) mother.


The Pursuit of Happyness (2006)

Jaden Smith (Son) / Will Smith (Father)

The Film: When salesmen Christopher Gardner (Will Smith) invests everything he has in a new medical device that doesn’t sell as well he hopes, his wife leaves him and he ends up on the streets with his very young son, landing a potential job as a stockbroker but having to prove himself for six months before he can earn pay.

The Family: Will Smith plays daddy to his real-life son Jaden in this heavily fictionalized account of a true story that sees the two on-screen for most of the film, with little Jaden turning in an adorable performance despite some aggressive emotional manipulation by the filmmakers. The two would pair up again in M. Night Shyamalan’s After Earth (2013) though most try to forget it.


Who are your favorite family acting dynasties? Let us know in the comment below.

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