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Actors Who Look Just Like Their Famous Parents

The world is filled with actors who passed down their love of the craft to their offspring. Some acting families span several generations: The Barrymores, The Hustons, The Fondas, The Carradines. For other families, a love of acting isn't the only thing handed down — looks become a legacy, too.

Being the child of a famous actor doesn't make for an easy life, especially for those who look just like their parents. Some of these heirs would rather run away from the giant shadows cast upon them. But sometimes the draw of the family business is just too hard to resist, and new generations seek their own spotlights.

Let's examine some actors who look just like their famous parents, and the often fascinating stories of how they came into this world, fell in love with acting because (or in spite) of their lineage, and ultimately made it on their own — though the genes certainly didn't hurt.

Michael Douglas and father Kirk Douglas

Kirk Douglas' first son, Michael, born in 1944, started behind the scenes working on his dad's films, and by age 26, he was already drawing comparisons to his father.

Michael's breakout in acting came when he paired with his father's theatrical summer stock friend Karl Malden on the 1970s series "The Streets of San Francisco." Leading man status soon followed, with the role of Gordon Gekko in Oliver Stone's "Wall Street" being one of his best — even if he'd previously "shied away from doing parts like this." After all, he acknowledged, "half of my genes are my father's and in that sense [the role of Gekko] was closer to some of the roles that made him famous." While he generally took the comparison to his father as a compliment, he was happy that he made it on his own and that "sometimes people forget that I'm his son."

The only time the two acted opposite each other was in 2003's "It Runs in the Family," which also included Michael's mother and Kirk's first wife, Diana, as well as Michael's own look-alike son, Cameron. In 2014, when Michael appeared on "Letterman," he relayed a story from his 97-year-old father: Kirk had recently gotten confused when watching one of his old movies — he couldn't remember the picture at all. He told Michael, "I kept looking and then I realized, it wasn't me, it was you."

Charlie Sheen and father Martin Sheen

When Ramón Estévez became an up-and-coming stage actor, he knew "having a Spanish name became a double liability," so he took the stage name Martin Sheen in honor of CBS casting director Robert Dale Martin and New York auxiliary bishop Fulton J. Sheen.

Martin and his wife Janet would have 4 children in total, and would take them on film shoots around the globe, saying back in 1976, "There's no point in having kids if you don't want them with you." These experiences rubbed off on Martin's offspring, as all four followed the path their father had blazed for them. In his dual memoir with his dad, firstborn son Emilio wrote, "When we're on set people say that sometimes it's easy to forget who's the father and who's the son."

Carlos Irwin Estévez was the youngest son born to Janet and Martin in 1965. When he started making his way in Hollywood, he adopted his father's stage surname. In 1984, he noted that he was fine being compared to his father, saying, "I believe heredity plays a part in ability." Charlie and Martin most famously teamed up in Oliver Stone's 1987 film "Wall Street," and poked fun at themselves for doing so six years later in "Hot Shots! Part Deux."

Beau and Jeff Bridges and father Lloyd Bridges

In 1975, Lloyd Bridges told the New York Daily News, "I liked to keep the family with me while I was working and the boys were growing up, and that's how they got into the profession. They figured if I could do it they could do it." Lloyd Vernet "Beau" Bridges III, born in 1941, and Jeffrey Leon Bridges, born in 1949, also inherited their father's eyebrows.

While the brothers haven't often worked together, when they have (for example, co-hosting SNL together in 1983 and headlining 1989's "The Fabulous Baker Boys"), Jeff said he sees it as a way to express the love between them. Both have worked extensively with their father as well, with Jeff likening it to "a feeling of being on the same team. It's like a baton pass." He even got his father a part based on the family resemblance, suggesting that producers cast "an actor who kinda looks like me — a wonderful actor named Lloyd Bridges," as his uncle in 1994's "Blown Away." 

Jeff is the only one of the three to be nominated for an Academy Award (times seven), finally winning one for 2010's "Crazy Heart." His first nomination meant he "was recognized on my own. It was for Jeff Bridges, actor, not Jeff Bridges, Lloyd's son." One of the only things that bothers Jeff is "when people say 'Beau Bridges, can I have your autograph?'"

Laura Dern and mother Diane Ladd

Two months into Laura Dern's life, she'd already received a nickname from the directors of Actors' Studio West in Hollywood, to which her parents Diane Ladd and Bruce Dern belonged. The couple eventually divorced two years after Laura's birth, still grieving over the accidental drowning of their first child years earlier. As a single mother, Ladd tried to avoid being overprotective despite the traumatic loss, which she said "helped [Laura] become her own person."

Mother brought daughter to work with her, where she ended up getting a few uncredited parts, including one in Martin Scorsese's 1974 film "Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore." The director told Laura, "If you can eat 19 ice cream cones and not throw up, you should be an actress."

Laura went on to earn her own stripes, making audiences and critics take notice of her in films like Peter Bogdanovich's "Mask" and David Lynch's "Blue Velvet." She teamed up with her mom for 1991's "Rambling Rose," for which they both were nominated for Academy Awards, making Oscar history. More duets followed, with the most memorable being 1990's "Wild at Heart." When told how striking the resemblance between them was in the film (where they also played mother and daughter), Laura remarked, "I think it's a little frightening, given the characters."

Laura has thanked both parents for "the genes," to which Diane replied, "Your father and I made the car, but you're the driver. It's your soul that's driving that car."

Josh Brolin and father James Brolin

Josh James Brolin was born in 1968 to actor James Brolin and wife Jane Agee. Josh "was very rebellious against acting because of my father and seeing him go through the ups and downs." Because it was the only elective available, he eventually enrolled in an acting class and loved it, but added, "I don't buy all that ... about it being in the blood and hereditary." The fatherly advice James gave his son, "Don't be a leading man ever. Be a character actor and you'll work forever." 

And yet when 1985's "The Goonies" got Josh noticed, one review remarked, "James Brolin's son shows future-leading-man qualities as Brandon." Before true stardom came to Josh, though, he worked with his father on a few projects. They played father and son in the first made-for-TNT film, "Finish Line," which James found "cathartic" for their relationship. Later, James directed his son in a 1992 episode of "The Young Riders," as well as the 1997 IRA drama they both starred in, "My Brother's War." 

Papa James went on to marry twice more, and Josh served as best man for the penultimate. Josh told W Magazine in 2008, "My dad is probably one of the handsomest guys ever." And when Josh was named one of People Magazine's 50 Most Beautiful People in the World in 1999, he said, "I'm really, really lucky. I was given my dad's good genes."

Dakota Johnson, mother Melanie Griffith, and grandmother Tippi Hedren

Melanie Griffith was born in 1957 to aspiring model Nathalie "Tippi" Hedren and actor Peter Griffith. On the set of Hedren's 1973 film "The Harrad Experiment," much to her dismay, the 14-year-old Melanie fell for their co-star, 22-year-old Don Johnson. Three years later, the two married, but it lasted only six months. Hedren reflected in her memoir, "I used to wish he and Melanie had never met, but I don't wish that any more. Without the journey they took together, there would have been no Dakota Johnson."

Eventually, Melanie and Don's daughter Dakota became a star herself. Hosting SNL 27 years after her mother did in 1988, her opening monologue alluded to Griffith's performance on that very stage as the catalyst for her parents' reunion and her own birth nine months later. 

The mothers in this lineage have both worked with their respective daughters ("Roar," "Crazy In Alabama"), but the three generations have never worked together. When asked if they would, Melanie commented, "We could all be the whole life of a woman." To that effect, in 1998, Melanie said, "Dakota, who's eight ... looks exactly like I did at that age, except she's much more beautiful." And in Vanity Fair Spain in 2009, Dakota mirrored the sentiment: "I look at myself and I see that I look like her. ... And I am very lucky. My mother is the most beautiful woman in the world."

Dan Levy and father Eugene Levy

When rising character actor Eugene Levy and wife Deborah Divine welcomed their first child in 1983 and named him after the Elton John song "Daniel," little did anyone know that decades later, the Rocket Man would not only be meeting the actor whose name he'd inspired, but praising one of his shows. The Levys made the conscious decision to raise their children in Toronto, Canada, far away from the distractions of Hollywood. Dan would later say, "I think it's very rare for someone in entertainment to put their family before work. It was great because you really get to enter that world as an adult." 

He first did so as on-air personality for MTV Canada, where he did his best not to broadcast his father's identity — until they acted together for the first time in a "My Super Sweet 16" spoof for Dan's 26th birthday. Dan soon grew tired of his job asking red-carpet questions, so he brought his dad the idea that would eventually become "Schitt's Creek." After six seasons and nine Emmy wins, the show, which also starred Dan's sister Sarah, became a phenomenon and made Dan Levy arguably as famous as his father.

Eugene is an extremely proud dad who relishes working with his children, and it's not just comedic talent the two share — it's the eyebrows too. The Levys had a "brow-off" on "Today," with Eugene revealing, "He gets his trimmed, I get mine landscaped."

Zoë Kravitz and mother Lisa Bonet

In 1988, Lenny Kravitz and Lisa Bonet welcomed Zoë Isabella Kravitz into the world. Zoë's parents split when she was two, but she has a lot of memories with them individually — "being surrounded by extraordinary people, going to extraordinary places."

Bonet, her daughter recalls, "walked away from being famous, because she didn't really care about it." Lenny, however, caved and helped his daughter get an agent at age 15, but she asked for no further leg up. Father Kravitz said, "nobody cares who your mom or dad is if you can't do the job." Zoë even thought about ditching her famous last name, but came to be proud of where she came from: She's even come to embrace their style, as she steals "their clothes all the time." And of course, she proved that she can, in fact, do the job.

The daughter of an actress and a rocker embarked on both careers, becoming successful on her own terms. But she never forgot her roots: Zoë modeled Calvin Klein watches and jewelry with her mom and paid homage to her by recreating her infamous "Hot Issue" cover for "Rolling Stone" magazine.

Billie Lourd and mother Carrie Fisher

In 1992, Billie Catherine Lourd was born to Carrie Fisher and agent Bryan Lourd, which made for such headlines as "O Lourd-ie, a girl for Carrie Fisher" and "Fisher's princess." Even at age 10, Billie's maternal grandmother, Hollywood legend Debbie Reynolds, saw something in her: "She's fabulous," Reynolds asserted, "and she'll be a performer."

Bryan and Carrie "raised Billie not to want to be in show business" at first, but ultimately, mama Carrie helped her secure a part in J.J. Abrams' "The Force Awakens" as Lieutenant Connix. "We decided to embrace the weird galactic nepotism of it all and went with the mini–Leia buns." Lourd caught the acting bug from there, branched out on her own, and said, "I've always kind of lived in their shadows, and now is the first time in my life when I get to own my life and stand on my own."

The third film of the new trilogy, "The Rise of Skywalker," was meant to be Leia's movie, but Fisher tragically died before filming commenced (and Reynolds passed one day later). Unused footage of Carrie was utilized for the film, and with the magic of visual effects, Billie even stepped in to help bring Leia to life in a younger flashback scene. Lourd once wanted to shy away from her mom's iconic character, but now "she's my guardian angel. And I'm her keeper."

Jason Ritter and father John Ritter

The 1980 arrival of son Jason to actor John Ritter and wife Nancy Morgan inspired a pun that was impossible for the media to resist, and the paper hailed the elder Ritter's film "Three's Company" in the birth announcement. 

Besides a few bit parts alongside his dad, in the 1984 TV special "The Secret World of the Very Young," the 1990 TV movie "The Dreamer of Oz" and "The Real Story of O Christmas Tree," Jason's own career didn't start to gain traction until right around the untimely death of his father in 2003. During auditions, casting directors would often tell him how funny his dad was, and the pressure to live up to that legacy didn't help him land many comedies early on.

Jason told CMT, "I have kind of just accepted the fact that people are going to compare me to my dad. I have just accepted that fact because I do kind of look like him, and I grew up with him, so some of my mannerisms come directly from watching him as I was growing up. It does push me to want to be the best actor I can and really take it seriously." In another, he said, "People used to ask my dad what it was like to be Tex Ritter's son. Now, people are asking me what it's like to be John Ritter's son."

Maya Hawke and mother Uma Thurman

After Ethan Hawke met Uma Thurman on the set of 1997's "Gattaca," the thespians married in 1998 and gave birth to their daughter a couple months later. Maya Hawke was greeted by headlines such as "Now Playing: Uma, Ethan in Parenthood."

Maya hadn't always considered acting, but realized in school that "the happiest place in the world for me was on set or on stage." She knew her parents gave her an advantage, telling People Magazine, "I think I'll get a couple chances on their name and then if I suck, I'll get kicked out of the kingdom. ... So I'm just going to try not to suck."

"Suck" she has not, making splashes in the 2017 BBC mini-series "Little Women," on "Stranger Things," and even alongside her dad in an episode of Showtime's "The Good Lord Bird." Up next for father and daughter: Alaskan Beatlemania film "Revolver." Maya hasn't worked with her mom, but did with Thurman's close collaborator, Quentin Tarantino, on "Once Upon A Time in Hollywood" – and gushed about following in her mom's footsteps. If "Kill Bill 3" sees the light of day, Tarantino said it would be "f***ing exciting" for Maya to play The Bride's daughter.

When asked about Maya's striking resemblance to both her parents, Ethan responded, "They act like, because their parents are movie actors, she's somehow different than any other human being on the planet. Most people look a lot like their mom and dad."

O'Shea Jackson Jr. and father Ice Cube

Ice Cube's mother Doris "liked O.J. Simpson's name, Orenthal, but she didn't want to copy it, so she came up with O'Shea. Who knows, maybe my father [Hosea Jackson] was Irish," he joked. As for his chilled nom de rap, that came courtesy of his older brother Clyde, who threatened to throw him into a discarded freezer "and when they pull you out you're gonna be an ice cube."

When Ice and wife Kimberly Woodruff's first son was born in 1991, they didn't name him "Little Cube," but rather after his old man. O'Shea Jackson, Jr. toured with Senior before he was two, and in his teens, even performed with him. At 18, Junior appeared as an uncredited DJ opposite pops in 2009's "The Janky Promoters."

When Ice Cube and his N.W.A. comrades had their life story turned into a film, "Straight Outta Compton," father thought son was perfect to play a younger version of himself. Before he was handed the part, though, O'Shea Junior had to train and audition several times. The end result: glowing reviews and instant stardom. The proud father also found it "kinda weird": He kept looking at his son, "thinking he's a young me" — though he admitted his son "had me down pat."

Jack Kilmer and father Val Kilmer

Val Kilmer and Joanne Whalley played love interests on screen in 1988's "Willow," becoming lovers offscreen after filming wrapped. The couple welcomed baby girl (and future dead-ringer for both mom and dad) Mercedes in 1991. Four years later, they were pregnant again: Kilmer missed the Atlanta premiere of his own movie "Batman Forever" to be by Whalley's side for the birth. 

"Jack Kilmer came into this world on June 6, 1995. Glory, hallelujah!," Val wrote in his memoir. The bliss was short-lived for the parents, as "the birth of a precious child coincided with the unraveling of our union": They divorced five months after Jack's birth.

Jack admitted he "always wanted to be an artist of some kind," but the acting awakening came later in Gia Coppola's 2013 directorial debut, "Palo Alto," which also featured his dad ("It was pretty hilarious seeing him high"), his actual bedroom, and a who's whos of other children of famed actors. Through the film, Jack "realized what my parents have been doing their whole lives and ... I'm kind of really in love with it." 

Jack has since appeared in over twenty films, shorts, and music videos. He and sister Mercedes played a big role in making the documentary "Val" a reality, with Jack providing narration on this intimate look at their father's life and career through years of home video footage.

However, he still has "plans to become a cowboy if I lose interest in everything else."