Many children of celebrities have tried their hand at acting, sometimes following directly in their parents' footsteps. Occasionally they play the same role once played by a parent, or work with the same filmmaker, or sometimes even portray their parent in film or TV. This happens because Hollywood loves a good story. If for no other reason, an interesting backstory involving the making of a movie is something that can be used for promotional efforts. Because audiences also love a good story.
The actors listed below may not have been cast exclusively for their familial connection to a particular role, but it adds another layer to the performance to see them carry on the legacy of their famous parent. Often these opportunities serve as a launching point for the career of the next generation of entertainer in the family. Which actor below do you feel did their parent's legacy proud? Vote up your favorites!
Zoe Perry Played Sheldon's Mom In 'Young Sheldon' After Her Mother, Laurie Metcalf, Played The Same Role On 'The Big Bang Theory'
“We have lots of similarities when it comes to our voices and mannerisms, and I’m lucky that I have that at my disposal - not only for this part, but in general.” - Zoe Perry
When Zoe Perry was a child, she spent a lot of time on the set of ABC’s Roseanne, which starred her mother, Laurie Metcalf, as the title character’s sister, Jackie Harris. Perry’s first acting role was playing a younger version of her mother’s character for a flashback sequence on the series. History repeated itself when Perry was cast to play Mary Cooper for the prequel series Young Sheldon, a role first established by Metcalf in The Big Bang Theory.
Metcalf played present-day mother of Caltech physicist Sheldon Cooper (Jim Parsons) in the popular series created by Chuck Lorre (who was also an executive producer on Roseanne), while the spinoff show stars Perry as a younger version of Mary during Sheldon’s formative years growing up in Texas during the early 1990s. Even though the producers were aware of the familial connection and Lorre had known the actor since she was a child, Perry was still put through the usual audition process before she was cast in the role.Carried the torch?
“He used to tell me to call him Uncle Spike during that time. And then working with him now, it wasn’t Uncle Spike this time, it was Spike.” - John David Washington
Denzel Washington has starred in four films directed by Spike Lee, including an Academy Award-nominated performance in Malcolm X. That critically acclaimed biopic also served as the first opportunity for Washington’s eldest son to try his hand at acting while visiting the set one day at the age of 7. Lee happened to be filming a climactic scene inspired by Spartacus, in which elementary school students rise to declare, “I am Malcolm X,” and John David Washington was given the chance to be one the kids to say this line.
It would be 23 years before he would act again, taking the role as NFL star Ricky Jerret on the HBO series Ballers after his own football career came to an end. John David’s acting career came full circle in 2018 when he was cast in the lead role of Lee’s BlacKkKlansman. In the film based on true events, he plays Ron Stallworth, an African American detective in the Colorado Springs Police Department who infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan in the 1970s after posing as a white supremacist over the phone. The role earned him acting nominations at the 2019 Golden Globes and Screen Actors Guild Awards.Carried the torch?
“I always very much enjoyed arts and it was so central in my family, my mother was also an art teacher, as well as founding the Henson Company with my dad, there was a lot of art going on in our household.” - Brian Henson
Jim Henson was a legendary American puppeteer and filmmaker best known as the creator of iconic Muppet characters used on Sesame Street, The Muppet Show, and Fraggle Rock, as well as directing The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth. The icon founded the Jim Henson Company, which included the Jim Henson Foundation and Jim Henson's Creature Shop. This company was in the middle of a planned merger with The Walt Disney Company in 1990 when Henson tragically passed at 53 from a virulent form of bacterial pneumonia.
Along with other siblings, Henson’s third child, Brian Henson, stepped up to take over operating his late father's company. Brian had made several appearances on Sesame Street as a child and began working on puppets and special rigging devices for his father as early as high school. In January of 1991, Brian was named president and chief executive officer of the Henson Company at the age of 27. Although the company was sold to EM.TV in 2000, Brian and his siblings reacquired the Henson Company in 2003 and have owned it ever since. Brian has followed in his father’s footsteps, directing the Melissa McCarthy-led comedy The Happytime Murders, and operating puppets for the 2021 Disney+ special Muppets Haunted Mansion.Carried the torch?
“You know. I’ve got a son. And one day, he’s gonna become the most electrifying man in sports entertainment.” - Dwayne Johnson as Rocky Johnson on That '70s Show
Rocky Johnson was a Canadian professional wrestler who holds the honor of being the first Black Georgia Heavyweight Champion and the first Black champion in the history of the WWF (now the WWE), alongside his tag-team partner, Tony Atlas. When Johnson retired from wrestling in 1991, he shifted his focus to the training of his son Dwayne Johnson, whose eyebrow-raising persona of "The Rock" began to increase in popularity with the fans.
At the height of The Rock’s fame, the WWF made $120.4 million from a single year of merchandising. Although Dwayne is now one of the highest-paid movie stars, he got his first scripted acting job portraying his legendary wrestler father in a Season 1 episode of That '70s Show titled "That Wrestling Show." The episode debuted in 1999, and the wrestler-turned-actor transitioned to film shortly after this appearance. Johnson passed unexpectedly in January of 2020, which likely gives this initial role additional significance for Dwayne.Carried the torch?