Since the earliest days of filmmaking, actors and actresses have appeared alongside their children in various projects, and there are tons of examples of famous families in movies. In the vast majority of these instances, the child appears as either a younger version of the parent or as the kid to their parent in the story - which makes a lot of sense, since they often actually look like each other.
Famous family castings aren't limited to parent/child roles, though. There are a few times when those combos play characters who are completely unrelated on screen. It's rare, but it does happen every once in a while, especially when the famous "child" is an adult. Check out these examples of parents and their kids playing unrelated characters on screen, and see if there are any you didn't catch the first time you watched them.
- Photo: Warner Bros.
If you watched any of the Harry Potter movies and thought the Weasley kids were all related, you could be forgiven, as the casting department did an amazing job of finding kids who shared similarities in their appearances. Sadly, only the twins were brothers in real life, but that wasn't the only familial link in the franchise.
Brendan Gleeson, who played Alastor "Mad-Eye" Moody, managed to see his son, Domhnall Gleeson, cast in the role of Bill Weasley. Unfortunately, they barely share any screen time in the film before Mad-Eye finds himself on the receiving end of the Killing Curse.
There were hushed discussions of nepotism when it was revealed that Angelina Jolie's daughter Vivienne was cast to play a part in Maleficent, a film starring Jolie as the titular evil queen. As it turns out, there was a practical reason for casting the 5-year-old opposite her mother: She wasn't immediately terrified after seeing Jolie in costume.
Jolie explained her casting decision in an interview with Entertainment Weekly:
We think it’s fun for our kids to have cameos and join us on set, but not to be actors. That’s not our goal, for Brad and I, at all. But the other 3- and 4-year-old [performers] wouldn’t come near me. 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.
- Photo: United Artists
Cast a Giant Shadow presents a fictionalized account of a real-life Jewish-American soldier, Colonel David "Mickey" Marcus, a role played by Kirk Douglas. Over the years, the Douglas family has featured appearances by Kirk, Michael, and Cameron, but it was Michael who took a role in this picture.
Though he isn't credited, Michael Douglas appears as his father's Jeep driver, and he's seen briefly on screen. While it wasn't credited, it was Michael Douglas's first film appearance. He would go on to play Carl Dixon in Hail, Hero! a few years later. Interestingly, Kirk wasn't incredibly supportive of his son's interest in the craft. In an interview with CBS News anchor Tracy Smith, Michael Douglas had this to say about the first time his father saw him act:
My father had already come to the university, seen me in a number of productions, and was less than thrilled, and was really encouraging me about becoming an attorney. Because I was not a natural. First time he saw me, he said, "Michael, you were terrible." And I was.
- Photo: 20th Century Fox
Max Dugan Returns features the credited debuts of both Matthew Broderick and Kiefer Sutherland, though only the latter acted in this picture opposite his real-life father. In the film, Donald Sutherland plays the role of Brian Costello while his son takes on the role of Bill, Michael McPhee's (Matthew Broderick) school friend.
That wasn't the only time the Sutherlands would act in the same film together in unrelated roles. Both Donald and Kiefer had roles in 1996's A Time to Kill, in which Donald played Lucien Wilbanks and Kiefer played Freddie Lee Cobb, though they didn't share the screen.