MSN Movies Blog

Born Into the Business: Stars With Famous Parents

Take our quiz about the acting offspring of showbiz veterans

By DannyMiller Aug 13, 2011 1:59PM

To me one of the true revelations in the movie “The Help” is Bryce Dallas Howard’s performance as Hilly Holbrook. Hilly is a beautiful, perfectly manicured and coiffed Southern belle who wears the nicest clothes, works tirelessly for several charities, and has a large circle of friends. What else? Oh, she is a virulent racist and the true villain of the piece. One of the subplots of the story is Hilly’s attempt to enact a law in Mississippi that would require white families to build a separate bathroom for their “colored” help. Hilly is horrified at the thought of black people using her toilet (“they have different diseases than us”) and indeed, she fires her long-time maid when she believes that the woman has used the Holbrook’s whites-only commode.


Such a despicable character could easily have descended into a Cruella De Vil-like caricature with a lesser actress. But in my opinion, despite the over-the-top ugliness of Holbrook’s actions throughout the film, Howard manages to bring nuances to the role that, while not excusing her reprehensible behavior, provide a backdrop that speaks to the in-bred racism that was such a part of the Jim Crow South. I’m not saying that I “liked” Hilly Holbrook, but I did love Bryce Dallas Howard’s take on her. I hope people who have seen this film are talking about Hilly—I think her character provides far more opportunities for interesting discussion than if we'd been witnessing the actions of a crazed Ku Klux Klan member.

I was floored, at first, to realize that the actress was the daughter of Ron Howard, the director who, of course, was also the child actor Ronny Howard, star of “The Andy Griffith Show” and “Happy Days” as well as wonderful films such as “The Music Man,” “The Courtship of Eddie’s Father,” and “American Graffiti.” In my head, Ronny Howard is forever young—how could this lovely 30-year-old actress possibly be his child?


I now remember seeing her in small but effective roles in “Spider-Man 3” and “Hereafter.” After “The Help” I would definitely put Bryce Dallas Howard on the short list of the Big Movie Stars of the Future. Next up for Howard is a featured role in the “cancer comedy” called “50/50” opposite Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Seth Rogen.


Thinking about Bryce Dallas Howard, I wondered how much having a parent who had been a famous actor helped set her on the path that led to Hilly Holbrook. Growing up in Connecticut, Howard claims she was purposely sheltered from the showbiz world and wasn’t even aware that her father was a celebrity until she moved to California. “My dad’s more three-dimensional than Opie Taylor or Richie Cunningham,” she said recently in an interview. “He even has a temper! He’s a real person. But some people are disappointed by that.”


I started composing a list of other acting progeny of famous actors and I couldn’t stop myself. My rule was that both child and parent had to be movie actors at some point in their career, not just TV or stage performers, and they had to have had some success in the field. Here’s the list that I came up with:


Adam Arkin

Sean Astin

Talia Balsam

Drew Barrymore

Ed Begley, Jr.

Candice Bergen

Jeff & Beau Bridges

Matthew Broderick

Josh Brolin

David, Keith, & Robert Carradine

Geraldine Chaplin

Jamie Lee Curtis

Laura Dern

Michael Douglas

Emilio Estevez

Mia Farrow

Carrie Fisher

Bridget Fonda

Jane & Peter Fonda

Jennifer Grey

Melanie Griffith

Mamie Gummer

Colin Hanks

Bryce Dallas Howard

Kate Hudson

Timothy Hutton

June Lockhart

Angelina Jolie

Lorenzo Lamas

Jennifer Jason Leigh

Hayley Mills

Liza Minnelli

Tatum O’Neal

Gwyneth Paltrow

Martha Plimpton

Amanda Plummer

Vanessa & Lynn Redgrave

Natasha & Joely Richardson

Emma Roberts

Isabella Rossellini

Campbell Scott

Charlie Sheen

Jaden Smith

Mira Sorvino

Ben Stiller

Kiefer Sutherland

Marlo Thomas

Zoe Wanamaker


Am I missing anyone? And now, for a special Hitlist prize, see if you can answer the following questions about this well-pedigreed group:


1. How many of these actors are the children of not one but two Academy Award winners?

2. How many parent-child pairs have both won Oscars?

3. How many of them appeared in one or more films with their famous parent(s)?

4. Who on this list also has an Oscar-winning stepmom as well as an Oscar-nominated wife?

5. Whose parents met while acting together in a groundbreaking Broadway musical?

6. Who has a younger sibling that may soon need to be added to this list?

7. Who has played a role in a film that their famous parent played years earlier?

8. Which of these actors are estranged from their famous parent?


Winners and prizes to be announced soon!

Aug 14, 2011 8:50AM
Went and saw "The Help" this weekend.  What a blast this must have been for the actors/actresses involved.  I adored the book, so naturally when news that there was a film in production hit the airwaves, I was on the edge of my seat to see who would be cast as the bitchy "Hilly Holbrook".  This character is a villan in the truest sense of the word and Bryce Dallas Howard did an excellent job at portraying her.  I've seen her on several talk shows plugging the film and she is nothing like Hilly but what a gifted and talented actress ~ I just wanted to smack her!!!  Praise for the film and the book.  Emma Stone was awesome as Skeeter and Octavia Spencer's Milly and Viola Davis' Aibileen Clark had me in tears {both from laughing and crying}.  These actresses are absolutely amazing; definately worth the cost of admission and then some...
Please help us to maintain a healthy and vibrant community by reporting any illegal or inappropriate behavior. If you believe a message violates theCode of Conductplease use this form to notify the moderators. They will investigate your report and take appropriate action. If necessary, they report all illegal activity to the proper authorities.
100 character limit
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?
showtimes & tickets
Search by location, title, or genre: