What do Tilda Swinton, Christopher Plummer, and King Princess have in common? They're all celebrities with famous ancestors.
All of the celebs on this list aren't distantly related to notable historical figures - these individuals can actually claim direct descent from at least one historically significant ancestor. Celebrity ancestors include royals, politicians, and artists - in other words, accomplished people who are known outside the context of their famous descendant.
Whether they appeared on a genealogy show - like PBS's Finding Your Roots, African American Lives, or the BBC's Who Do You Think You Are? - or grew up hearing about their famous ancestors, these actors, musicians, and personalities are appreciative of their storied backgrounds.
Helena Bonham Carter can boast that her family tree includes a British prime minister: Her great-grandfather was Herbert Henry Asquith, who headed Parliament from 1908 to 1916.
Asquith's daughter - and Bonham Carter's paternal grandmother - Violet Bonham Carter led an equally compelling life. Politically engaged, Violet opposed the rise of fascism in the 1930s so fiercely that she ended up in Hitler's so-called "black book" of anti-fascist Britons whom he wanted to arrest.
When Helena Bonham Carter participated in a British genealogy series to find out more about Violet Bonham Carter and her other grandparents, she urged, "I feel every young person should go and interview their grandparents."
- Age: 49
- Birthplace: Golders Green, London, United Kingdom
Tilda Swinton's family tree stretches back over a millennium in England and Scotland - her noble family roots are anchored in the 800s. As she explained in an interview with The Guardian in 2003, "All families are old. It's just that mine have lived in the same place a long time and happened to write things down."
Though several films - like Outlaw King and Braveheart - have featured her ancestor, Swinton hasn't appeared in any of them.
- Age: 59
- Birthplace: England, London
Actor Rashida Jones claims descent from 20th-century immigrants on her mother Peggy Lipton's side and a line of American and European royalty through her father Quincy Jones. Quincy Jones participated in PBS's African American Lives to learn more about his heritage. He discovered that the majority of his ancestry can be traced to Africa, but some 34% of his DNA comes from Europe.
Among Rashida Jones's ancestors through her father are Edward I and Betty Washington Lewis. Edward I of England - nicknamed "Hammer of the Scots" for his attempts to take over Scotland - is credited with regularizing the English Parliament. Betty Washington Lewis was George Washington's sister and an advocate for American independence.
- Age: 39
- Birthplace: Los Angeles, California, United States of America
Many children dream of living in a castle - but actor Rose Leslie actually got to do it. The Downton Abbey and Game of Thrones star grew up at Lickleyhead Castle, her family's 16th-century Scottish home.
Through both her father - who is the head of Clan Leslie - and mother, Leslie claims significant historical figures as kin. Like her husband Kit Harington, Rose Leslie counts King Charles II as an ancestor.
Charles, a lover of the theater, indirectly enabled Leslie's career: It was during Charles's reign beginning in the 1660s that it became legal for women to professionally act.
- Age: 28
- Birthplace: Aberdeen, Scotland