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12 Projects That Were Just Excuses For Actors To Work With Their Kids

February 2, 2021 8.5k views12 items

"Nepotism Casting." It's an ugly phrase, but it has been quite apt from time to time to describe certain casting choices in Hollywood - we're looking at you, Francis Ford Coppola. Casting your daughter as a major role in The Godfather Part III? How did that work out for you, my man? And while "Nepotism Casting" is a term that clearly has negative connotations - it has "nepotism" in it, after all - not all of these decisions work out poorly. Sometimes, getting the family to work on a film together works out well in the end!

For every After Earth, there is a Paper Moon; for every Rocky V, there is a The Year of Spectacular Men. And while some projects just reek of an excuse for actors to work with their kids, others come out the other side unscathed. Besides, wouldn't you try to work with your family on a daily basis if you could? Okay, maybe everyone doesn't love their family that much, but being away from your kids to make a film has to be hard. 

  • Will Smith is an extremely famous dude. After bursting onto the music scene in the late '80s and becoming a household name in the early '90s thanks to The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Smith became one of Hollywood's go-to leading men. From Bad Boys and Men in Black to Independence Day and I, Robot, Smith has been A-list royalty for nearly three decades now. And when you become that famous, you garner significant clout which allows you to kickstart the career of your family members, if you so wish.

    And after helping his son Jaden get his big-screen debut with 2006's The Pursuit of Happyness, Smith again teamed with his offspring for the much-maligned After Earth in 2013. Conceived from the beginning by Smith himself as a star vehicle for Jaden, After Earth both disappointed at the box office and ultimately failed to kickstart a massive multimedia franchise as Smith had envisioned. But he did get to star in a film with his son again, so there's always that.

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  • The Rocky franchise is going strong again after the successes of the Michael B. Jordan-led Creed films, but the series wasn't always on such solid ground. With a rags-to-riches franchise like Rocky, there are only so many places you can go with the story until everything becomes less and less believable. And Rocky V, with its plot centering around brain damage and familial strife, was such a disappointment that it put the franchise on ice for more than 15 years.

    And though this entry was the fifth for Sylvester Stallone, it marked the acting debut for his son Sage. Shockingly, Sage plays Rocky's son, Robert "Rocky" Balboa Jr., and he's definitely got the persona of a jean jacket-wearing, dangly earring-owning teen who has a tumultuous relationship with his father. While Rocky Jr. had appeared in the Rocky films before and would arguably get a more memorable performance from Milo Ventimiglia in Rocky Balboa and Creed II, never forget that Sly managed to get his son - who had zero previous acting experience - into a major motion picture like it was nothing.

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  • Meryl Streep is one of the most decorated actors in the history of filmmaking. Her name alone sells bundles of tickets and gets projects the green light more quickly than you can say "21 Academy Award nominations." Mamie Gummer, Streep's eldest daughter, is also a successful actor of some renown. Keen to follow in her mother's footsteps, Gummer has appeared on television programs like The Good Wife and True Detective, as well as in films like Side Effects and Taking Woodstock.

    And while the pair had appeared in films together before - specifically 1986's Heartburn and 2007's Evening - 2015's Ricki and the Flash gave the mother and daughter duo a chance to really play off each other. Telling the tale of a mother who is a rock star wannabe and has become estranged from her family, Ricki gives Streep and Gummer plenty of screen time together. And though the results may have been mixed - at least according to critics - it's clear the duo had a fantastic time working together. 

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  • How many family members can you cram into one film? Well, when your family has been a staple of Hollywood life since the 1940s, it's pretty clear you can get a project that revolves wholly around them made quite easily. 2003's It Runs in the Family stars four members of the Douglas family: Kirk Douglas, his ex-wife Diana Douglas, his son Michael Douglas, and his grandson Cameron Douglas, who play three generations of a family. With Kirk and Michael Douglas being two of the biggest movie stars in the history of the medium, it's clear to see why this film was made.

    Could such natural chemistry off-camera result in dynamite on-screen? Well... not exactly. Heavy on the melodrama and light on memorable moments, It Runs in the Family was mostly written off by critics and moviegoers alike. Alas, the Douglas clan can always reflect on that time they all got to make a major motion picture together. It's just a shame Catherine Zeta-Jones wasn't brought in to bring the family quota even higher.