Whether or not they realise it, nepo infants unquestionably have an advantage in Hollywood, and this is never more evident than when they actually begin working on their parents’ projects.
Most actors can’t even enter the audition room for these projects unless they have a great agent and a lot of credits (and don’t even get me started on whether they are members of the SAG-AFTRA union or not). This is true even if they have a small role in a high profile project.
Here are 15 Nepo kids that, in essence, are the pinnacle of Nepo babies because they literally inherited their genes from their parents.
1. When Maude and Iris Apatow were still very small children, Judd Apatow cast them in Knocked Up, Funny People, and This Is 40. The following three episodes of Girls, on which her father served as executive producer, starred Maude.
Her next job was in Other People, for which casting director Allison Jones made a recommendation. Judd Apatow’s films Freaks and Geeks, The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Talladega Nights, Knocked Up, Superbad, Funny People, and This is 40 were all cast by Jones, who has known the Apatow family since Maude was two.
All of this led to Sam Levinson, who is also a nepo baby (more on that later), getting a role in a movie. Then, in what is widely regarded as her breakthrough performance, he cast her in Euphoria.
2. Speaking of Sam Levinson, the Academy Award-winning filmmaker Barry Levinson is his father. When Levinson was a little boy, his father cast him in his 1992 movie Toys (with Robin Williams), and subsequently helped him break into the writing world by asking him to co-write the Robert De Niro-starring thriller Wizard of Lies in 2017. “I discussed it (the project) with my son, Sam, and he put together 20 pages,” the senior Levinson said in a statement to Collider. I emailed that to Bob and Jane Rosenthal, and during our meeting, they expressed their approval, so I revealed that my kid was the author. Since Sam was 10 years old, Bob has known him, and he responded, “All right, good.” That is how things went for us.
Before his father encouraged him to work on The Wizard of Lies, Levinson had just one writer/director credit from an independent film. The Wizard of Lies served as a springboard for his 2018 dark satire Assassination Nation. Rapid elation followed.
3. Gwyneth Paltrow was raised by an actor mother and a producer/director father; Steven Speilberg is actually her godfather. Her father wrote and directed the TV pilot for the show High, which also starred Zach Braff. Then, in 1990, she made her professional theatrical debut at the Massachusetts’ Williamstown Theatre Festival, where her mother had appeared in a number of plays.
She was cast in her godfather’s movie Hook after having a small part in John Travolta’s movie Shout. Prior to playing a significant role in Flesh and Bone and, more notably, Se7en, she worked on a few minor movies. After that, her career began to take off.
4. Sofia Coppola, Francis Ford Coppola’s daughter, started her acting career by making appearances in her father’s films, including The Godfather, The Godfather Part II, The Outsiders, Rumble Fish, The Cotton Club, Peggy Sue Got Married, and The Godfather Part III (in which she received negative reviews). Later, Coppola claimed that being an actor had never been her goal and that she had only been helping her father.
Her father gave her a head start in this field when he invited her to co-write his portion of the anthology film New York Stories, which was directed by Martin Scorsese and Woody Allen. She would later go on to become a writer and director. Sofia read The Virgin Suicides and decided she had to adapt and direct a film version after helming a short film and a few music videos. Since the movie received positive reviews, her career has flourished.
5. Bryce Dallas Howard is the epitome of a nepotistic baby; her mother is a writer and her father is a famous filmmaker. She is an actress’s granddaughter, and Henry Winkler is her godfather. Her earliest roles were as extras in her father’s films, which included the critically acclaimed How The Grinch Stole Christmas, the Academy Award-winning Apollo 13 and A Beautiful Mind.
After majoring in acting in college, the majority of her early roles were in theatre. M. Night Shyamalan discovered her in As You Like It and placed her in The Village and Lady in the Water, neither of which required an audition. Her career took off again after that.
6. Blake Lively’s father, actor Ernie Lively, also served as the film’s director, and Sandman was where she made her acting debut. She has a talent manager for a mother. One summer, Blake’s brother, who was also an actor, convinced his agent to send her on a ‘few’ of auditions, and that’s how she landed the role of Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants, in which her father also acted. Naturally, her career took off from there.
*In case you didn’t know, it is RARELY the case that an agent will send a brother to an audition. And it’s extremely doubtful that an actor with just one credit and no formal agent would be invited to an audition for a significant role in a significant feature film, particularly if it was just their second audition ever.
7. Jeff Bridges is the son of writer and actress Dorothy Bridges and actor Lloyd Bridges. He made appearances on his father’s programmes Sea Hunt, The Lloyd Bridges Show, and The Loner as he was growing up. He kept going and landed a few little parts before getting The Last Picture Show, which launched his career.
8. Jessica Capshaw, who is best known for playing Arizona in Grey’s Anatomy, is the stepdaughter of Steven Spielberg and the daughter of actor/producer Kate Capshaw.
Her debut appearance was in the movie The Locusts, which also starred her mother. Before being chosen for her stepfather’s critically acclaimed film Minority Report, she had a few more small roles.
9. Jaden Smith, the son of Will Smith, made his acting debut in The Pursuit of Happyness with his father. He was cast in The Karate Kid, which his parents produced, after getting a part in the critically acclaimed The Day the Earth Stood Still, and he reteamed with his father to star in After Earth.
Cooper 10. Philip Seymour Hoffman’s son, Hoffman, had grown up working on short films with Paul Thomas Anderson and his son, who was also a collaborator and friend of Hoffman’s father. Before Anderson told Hoffman about Licorice Pizza and urged him to read the script, Hoffman wasn’t even interested in acting. Hoffman underwent a number of camera tests with the Haim sisters after he informed Anderson that he was interested in playing the part. He claimed that these tests were tryouts “to see if I could actually do it.” He was only 17 and had never performed on stage before.
11. Scott Eastwood may have first gone by his mother’s last name in an effort to avoid capitalising on his surname, but I doubt he succeeded (in fact, one director remarked that he reminded him of “his dad 25 years ago”). In his father Clint’s movie Flags of Our Fathers, he played his first ever film or television role. He then made appearances in his father’s films Gran Torino and Invictus, and ever since, he’s had a successful, protracted career.
12. Anjelica Huston, granddaughter of actor Walter Huston and daughter of filmmaker John Huston, said that she was handed roles in her father’s films “without really [her] consent.” She didn’t really want to act. Although her performance in her father’s movie A Walk with Love and Death was not well received, she went on to have a successful career in Hollywood and collaborated with him once more on the film The Dead.
13. John David Washington, a son of actor Denzel Washington, co-produced one of his father’s films before starting to make it on his own. John David Washington has appeared in two minor roles in his father’s ventures, including Malcolm X.
Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman gave John David his breakthrough role; Lee frequently worked with Denzel Washington and had also directed John David in Malcolm X.
14. As another illustration, Ang Lee’s son Mason Lee will make his big screen debut in the upcoming Bruce Lee biopic that his father will be directing (after a lot of little roles, including one as a baby in one of his father’s films).
15. Before joining Saturday Night Live, Ben Marshall, John Higgins, and Martin Herlihy of Please Don’t Destroy were most known for their humorous TikToks. They thought it was a Cinderella story until they learned that two of them had fathers who had worked as writers and producers for Saturday Night Live for a long time.
To complete the circle, the group is collaborating on a movie with Judd Apatow after their time on Saturday Night Live. They will executive produce, write, and star in the movie.
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