Most people would probably choose not to work alongside their mom or dad, especially if there was a whole crew of professionals watching — and filming — their every move. But for these A-list parent and child duos, they had to do just that. From 20-month-old babies being secretly cast under false names to real-life family feuds stealing the show, there are plenty of stars who team up with their kids without us even realizing it. These Hollywood households were put to the ultimate test when they had to act alongside perhaps some of their harshest critics.
1. Judy Garland & Liza Minnelli
There are few Hollywood mother-daughter relationships as iconic as that of Judy Garland and Liza Minnelli. Through roles in The Wizard of Oz and Cabaret, respectively, Garland and Minnelli both became titans of the silver screen. But while the pair famously performed together on TV in The Judy Garland Show, few can recall them appearing in the same movie.
The two did, though — albeit only once. Way before Minnelli came to fame as Sally Bowles, the star made her movie debut alongside her mom in 1949’s The Good Old Summertime. And at just three years of age, the star is completely unrecognizable in the role of Garland’s on-screen daughter. The worst was yet to come for the budding starlet, though. In an interview with Variety Minnelli noted how the hardest part of becoming famous “was getting to be known as myself as opposed to somebody’s daughter.”
2. Jerry Stiller & Ben Stiller
Born with comedy in his veins, Jerry Stiller ruled the airwaves alongside wife Anne Meara in the ’60s. His role as the hotheaded Frank Costanza on Seinfeld endeared him to 1990s kids as well. And if that wasn’t nearly enough, the star had yet another claim to fame: being the dad of equally-acclaimed actor and director Ben.
Throughout his career, Ben gladly cast his pop in supporting roles — most notably Maury Ballstein, the title character’s agent in 2001’s Zoolander. But familial bonds didn’t prevent the odd on-set disagreement, as Jerry divulged to The New Yorker in 2012. “He wanted perfection, and I was getting a little huffy,” he said of his son’s directorial style. “I didn’t even want to be in the movie.” Yikes!
3. Meryl Streep & Mamie Gummer
Few stars have the critical credibility of Meryl Streep. And as she has 21 — yes, 21 — Academy Award nominations to her name, acting alongside her would be a daunting prospect for even the most seasoned screen veteran. But Mamie Gummer is the exception to the rule. Given that she is Streep's eldest daughter, Mamie has the added bonus of seeing a much softer side to the acting great. "At home she's not Meryl Streep — she's Mum; she's great and I love her a lot," she shared with People.
A runaway mother
In 2015's Ricki and the Flash, Gummer stepped into the role of the neglected child of Streep’s runaway mother. And despite all the on-screen animosity between the pair’s characters, their close relationship may have actually made the acting easier. Gummer suggested as much to The Daily Telegraph, saying “I don’t know if I could have done it with anyone else. It would have been very hard with a stranger to unleash that degree of emotion without worrying.” That wasn't the first time she appeared alongside her mom, though. In 1986 Mamie was only 20 months old when she was cast to star alongside Meryl in the film Heartburn.
4. Demi Moore & Rumer Willis
A movie about an exotic dancer? Not the most appropriate set to bring your kid to! But Demi Moore clearly had no qualms with taking daughter Rumer Willis to work with her while filming Striptease back in the mid '90s. And that wasn’t all. Moore also had her seven-year-old girl cast as her on-screen child in the risqué flick.
From exotic dancing to small-town summer
Later, the two women worked together on Now and Then and TV show Empire, while Willis has since gone it alone with a role in Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. But the up-and-coming actress hasn’t forgotten that early experience with her mom. In November 2020 she even honored Moore’s birthday by posting a cute Instagram snap of the pair together on the Striptease set.
5. Robin Williams & Zelda Williams
Some of you may remember seeing Robin Williams and his daughter Zelda appearing in a Nintendo promo back in 2011. That wasn’t the first time the pair had teamed up on camera, though. Seven years earlier, Zelda and Robin had shared the screen in little-known flick House of D. And given the dramedy only earned just under $400,000 at the box office, it's understandable if you haven't heard of it!
Directed by David Duchovny, House of D sees a teenage Zelda portray the girlfriend of Anton Yelchin’s character Tommy Warshaw. Robin, meanwhile, stars as Tommy’s developmentally disabled best friend. And while reviews for the doomed film were brutal — Roger Ebert even coined the adjective “doofusoid” to describe it — Zelda’s role did at least earn her a mention on People’s list of upcoming talent in 2007.
6. Angelina Jolie & Vivienne Jolie-Pitt
For her role in 2014’s Maleficent, Angelina Jolie decked herself out with some truly scary horns and claws. And while these accouterments helped the glamorous star sell her role as the “Mistress of Evil,” it did have one unwanted effect. As the actress explained to Entertainment Weekly in 2014, her severe appearance left child actors too petrified to perform with her.
Too terrified to act
Now, given that Jolie’s character spends much of her time with the young princess Aurora, the fact her appearance was terrifying a generation of young actors was naturally a pretty big problem. So, producers turned to the one kid who wouldn’t run away no matter how the actress looked: her daughter Vivienne. “It had to be a child that liked me and wasn’t afraid of my horns and my eyes and my claws,” the star told Vanity Fair. “It had to be Viv.”
7. Clint Eastwood & Scott Eastwood
Clint Eastwood may have portrayed his fair share of outlaws, but it seems he’s a family man deep down. So much so, in fact, that the famed actor and director loves to cast his kids in supporting roles. Most notably, his son Scott made his name appearing in Gran Torino, Invictus, and Trouble with the Curve. What's sweet is that Scott hasn't been shy in talking about how their time together on-set has shaped him as an actor. “I’ve learned so much just by watching him, the way he handles himself on set, the way he treats people. He’s taught me the importance of professionalism, respect, and always striving to do your best.”
Like father, like daughter
But Scott isn’t the only member of the Eastwood household to have gotten in on the Hollywood action. There’s also daughter Francesca, who has a small part as a waitress in Clint’s 2014 music biopic Jersey Boys. Alison and Kyle have appeared in The Mule and J. Edgar, respectively, too. Must be nice to be the kid of a legend!
8. Carrie Fisher & Billie Lourd
Princess Leia’s son Kylo Ren may have turned to the dark side in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, but at least Carrie Fisher’s real-life daughter was by her mom’s side all the way. In the 2015 sequel, Billie Lourd — in her big screen debut — portrays Kaydel Ko Connix, a subordinate of Leia. Although only making a brief on-screen appearance beside her mom, Fisher's leading role had a profound impact on Lourd's life. "I grew up with three parents: a mom, a dad and Princess Leia. I guess Princess Leia was kind of like my stepmom–technically family, but deep down I didn’t really like her," she shared in an interview with Time.
A touching tribute
In 2017’s The Last Jedi, Lourd’s character was playing an even greater role in the story. Sadly, though, this would be the last time the actress would get to play opposite her mother. Yes, following Fisher’s death in 2016, Lourd was the only one in the family to appear in 2019’s The Rise of Skywalker. Touchingly, she also stepped in to act as a body double for Leia during filming.
9. Ryan O’Neal & Tatum O’Neal
Fresh from an Academy Award nomination for 1970’s Love Story, Ryan O’Neal was Hollywood’s hottest new performer. So, what did he do next? Well, use his clout to cast his ten-year-old daughter, of course! That canny move may have backfired a little, however. Unfortunately for Ryan, Tatum’s performance in Paper Moon somewhat overshadowed his own rising star.
"Everybody hated everybody"
Yep, Tatum received all the plaudits for her role as little orphan Addie. She even became the youngest performer to ever win a Best Supporting Actress Oscar. But the critical acclaim apparently drove a wedge between Tatum and her resentful father, as their relationship deteriorated soon after. In 2009 Vanity Fair quoted Ryan as saying, “Everybody hated everybody because of that Academy Award.”
10. Janet Leigh & Jamie Lee Curtis
In 1960 Janet Leigh made movie history by becoming the first true scream queen in Psycho. Then, years after Janet was hacked to death in a shower in Alfred Hitchcock’s classic, her daughter Jamie Lee Curtis perfected the horror heroine with 1978’s Halloween. And considering their respective contributions to the scary movie genre, the pair were almost destined to team up at some point.
Horror icons united
It actually took the mom and daughter 20 years to finally come together in the fittingly-titled Halloween H20. A sequel to the original Halloween and its 1981 follow-up, the movie cast Leigh as the secretary of Curtis’ character in a role full of nods to Psycho. And while the pair’s time on screen together is short, it’s still a thrill to see the two horror icons united at last.
11. Sylvester Stallone & Sage Stallone
One of cinema’s most enduring creations, Rocky Balboa made Sylvester Stallone into the star he is today. And for the boxing series’ fifth installment in 1990, the actor decided he wanted his son in on the action, too. Then only 14, Sage didn't stray too far from real life when he portrayed Balboa's son Rocky Jr. Unlike reality, though, Sage's on-screen character was forced to fight for his father’s affection throughout the movie. Sadly, an even greater tragedy would play out when the cameras stopped rolling.
A tragic end
Rocky V wasn’t the star-making vehicle Sylvester possibly envisioned it to be. In fact, it’s now widely regarded as the worst film in the series. And the actor realized this himself, calling the stilted sequel “a mistake” when speaking to The Sun in 2010. For his part, Sage shied away from acting in later life and allegedly declined an offer to return in 2006’s Rocky Balboa. The saddest part of all, however, came in 2012 when he passed away at the age of just 36.
12. Tom Hanks & Colin Hanks
Let’s face it: Tom Hanks is pretty much America’s dad now. He seems the supportive and easy-going type — just the kind of guy you’d want in your corner when life goes south. On screen, though, the star has given moviegoers a glimpse of himself as a no-nonsense patriarch. And in this role in 2008’s The Great Buck Howard, he appeared opposite his actual son, Colin.
Rising through the Hollywood ranks
In the dramedy, Tom portrays a stern taskmaster who disapproves of his author son’s career choices. So is there an ounce of truth in the strained father-son relationship? Thankfully, it seems not. It’s all just acting, of course! In real life, we bet the Forrest Gump star encourages you to follow your dreams. And given Colin’s own journey to Hollywood, that impression may not be too far off the mark.
13. Blythe Danner & Gwyneth Paltrow
It’s only natural for parents to try to push their kids the extra mile. But when Blythe Danner appeared on stage with Gwyneth Paltrow back in 1994, the mom may have been a little too demanding for her kid's liking. Explaining herself on her daughter’s Goop podcast in 2018, Danner admitted, “I thought you had to sweat blood and tears to give a great performance, and you never did.” Ouch.
More than meets the eye
Still, that didn’t stop the duo from working together again in 2003’s Plath. And although they played a real-life mother-daughter pairing with a complicated relationship — Aurelia and Sylvia Plath — they didn’t seem to have any further fallings-out on set. Perhaps Paltrow’s Oscar helped Danner accept that her daughter actually does have some talent in there?
14. Melanie Griffith & Dakota Johnson
As a girl, Melanie Griffith almost lost an eye to a lion on the set of her mother Tippi Hedren’s movie Roar. You’d understand her not wanting to go into the family business after that. And yet Griffith did become a star in her own right. So, of course, did her own daughter, Dakota Johnson.
No wild cats in sight
Just like her mother had done for her, Griffith helped her daughter put her foot on the first rung of the showbiz ladder. Thankfully for Johnson, though, there were no wild cats to act alongside on the set of 1999’s Crazy in Alabama. Instead, the then nine-year-old simply played her mom’s adorable on-screen kid.
15. Lloyd Bridges & Jeff Bridges
Jeff Bridges may be a Hollywood legend, but he’s not the only person in Tinseltown with that last name. First, there’s his older brother, Beau, who appeared alongside Jeff in 1989’s The Fabulous Baker Boys. Then there’s his father, Lloyd — a movie mainstay who gave his boys their first exposure to the business called show.
During Jeff’s childhood, Lloyd pulled strings to get his son on the TV show Sea Hunt. Then, years later, the Big Lebowski star returned the favor by having his father cast as a shady politician in Tucker: The Man and His Dream. And luckily it seems that the casting choice wasn’t any kind of reflection on how Jeff really sees his dad, as he gushed about Lloyd's positive attributes in an interview with NPR. "That joy that he brought with him into the set was kind of contagious, and it would spread through the company," Bridges shared in 2017.
16. Jon Voight & Angelina Jolie
Not all Hollywood families are able to avoid a vicious feud, however. Take Jon Voight and Angelina Jolie’s famously fractious relationship, for example. The two haven’t been on the best terms since Jolie’s early childhood when Voight left the family. But even despite this bad blood, the two still managed to pull it together for one shared screen appearance.
No way back
In 2001, you see, Voight was cast as the on-screen dad to Jolie’s title character in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider. However, while this may have seemed to be a sign of the father and daughter duo heading towards a reconciliation, their relationship apparently didn’t get any better afterward. The fact that Voight didn’t reprise his role in 2003’s The Cradle of Life suggests as much, anyway.
17. Will Smith & Jaden Smith
If you need someone to play your son on screen, then it makes sense to use your own, right? That may have been Will Smith’s thought, anyway, when the actor cast his boy Jaden in 2006’s The Pursuit of Happyness. And though that role was his first, Jaden arguably stole the show from his father. The mini Smith even ended up nabbing an MTV Movie Award for his performance.
“Most painful failure”
Alas, the same couldn’t be said for the Smiths’ next project together: 2013’s After Earth. Opening to bad box-office takings and worse reviews, the movie became Will’s “most painful failure.” Why? Because he’d got his son involved. “I led him into it,” the star rued to Esquire in 2015. “That was excruciating.” Still, given Jaden’s success since, it probably wasn't quite as bad as Will first thought.
18. Stellan Skarsgård & Alexander Skarsgård
Stellan Skarsgård has been working with director Lars von Trier since the 1990s. And when the time came for Stellan to team up with his equally famous son Alexander on screen, it was appropriately in 2011’s Melancholia. There, Stellan plays the best man to the True Blood star’s groom in a wedding that doesn’t exactly have a happy-ever-after.
Skarsgård’s role was less than pleasant. Not a surprise if you’re familiar with von Trier’s output! But although the Thor actor may have played “a douchebag” in the movie, Alexander had just been happy to be with his dad. Speaking to MTV News in 2011, the Swedish star said of his pa, “It was awesome. We’ve never worked together before. He’s one of my best friends.” Aww!
19. Susan Sarandon & Eva Amurri
As a child, Eva Amurri had the best role model anyone could ask for: her mother, Susan Sarandon. And it seems that the Oscar winner led by example. Amurri explained on a 2019 episode of Yahoo! Finance’s My Three Cents, “I think the biggest lesson there was just the permission to want a lot for yourself, career-wise as a woman. I think that was extremely valuable to me.”
Learnt from the best
So, Amurri took her first steps into acting — with a little help from her mother, of course. In 2002 the then 17-year-old played the daughter of Sarandon’s former groupie in The Banger Sisters. Fans of Friends may also remember that Amurri appeared alongside her mom in the episode “The One with Joey’s New Brain.”
20. Brendan Gleeson & Domhnall Gleeson
Harry Potter fan? Then you’re no doubt aware that Domhnall Gleeson played Ron Weasley’s older brother Bill in The Deathly Hallows. But did you know that the actor shared the screen with a real member of his family? Yes, that’s his dad, Brendan, looking about as far from 'adorable dad' as can be in his unsettling make-up as “Mad-Eye” Moody!
The father-and-son team have tackled darker material together, too. In 2014’s Calvary, Brendan portrayed a church minister attending to Domhnall’s incarcerated killer in a scene that — although tough to film — was ultimately rewarding. Speaking to UPI in 2014, the proud dad gushed of his offspring, “It was a real treat to engage with an actor of that quality.”