Biographical films make for a popular genre in Hollywood. In biopics, depicted real-life events are often spiced up with the drama, sometimes straying from the actual story. This was and is still the formula for a successful biographical movie, even though the genre is known for not always staying true to the titular character’s story.
One aspect of biographical movies that has to be taken seriously is the actors who portray the historical figures. After all, we are talking about real-life celebrities with families, descendants, and their legacies, making proper casting all the more important. It is thanks to this that we have seen many of the world’s most famous performers collaborate on-screen with members of their own families.
For portraying their own relatives, actors only have to look at their family history, which makes the job much easier. We will be taking a look at 11 actors who have portrayed their own relatives. Expect some familiar faces.
#1 Benedict Cumberbatch
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King Richard III was portrayed by Cumberbatch in The Hollow Crown (2016). Prior to this BBC series, the actor did not know of his connection with the late king.
#2 Dwayne Johnson
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The Rock’s first step in the acting career saw him portray his father in Fox’s popular sitcom That ’70s Show. Dwayne’s father, Rocky, was also a wrestler and was responsible for training The Rock.
#3 Geraldine Chaplin
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Chaplin (1993) tells the life story of the British comedian Charlie Chaplin. In real life, Geraldine is the comedian’s daughter. For this biopic, she played Hannah Chaplin, Charlie’s mother who is also her late grandmother by association.
#4 Mario Van Peebles
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Mario Van Peebles first appeared in his father’s 1971 blaxploitation film Sweet Sweetback Baadasssss Song as the young Sweetback. Mario then returned in 2003’s Baadasssss! as Melvin Van Peebles. While the 1971 blaxploitation film tells the story of a black man escaping from the police, the 2003 biopic is based on his father’s story of filmmaking and the difficulties that came with it.
#5 Melissa Rivers
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Melissa portrayed her late mother, the comedian Joan Rivers in Joy (2015).
#6 O’Shea Jackson Jr.
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The 2015 biopic Straight Outta Compton saw O’Shea Jackson Jr. portray his father, Ice Cube who was in production. It took Jackson Jr. two years of auditioning before he could earn the role. Nailing Ice Cube’s attitude took him even longer.
#7 Rubén Amaro Jr.
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Rubén Jr. portrayed his father, Rubén Amaro Sr., in The Goldbergs. Twice he appeared, first in S5E11, and then in S6E6. Both father and son were baseball players, with the latter even starting a coaching career in 2016.
#8 Ruth Wilson
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Mrs. Wilson (2018) is a British historical drama serial, produced by and starring Ruth Wilson. Ruth portrayed her grandmother, Alison Wilson whose memoirs resulted in the creation of the series.
#9 Shia LaBeouf
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Written by and starring Shia LaBeouf, Honey Boy (2019) is loosely based on the story of his childhood and his relationship with his father. The script was originally written while Shia was still in rehabilitation.
#10 Sophia Loren
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The 1980 biopic Sophia: My Own Story was a special film for Sophia Loren, for she played two characters. And not just any characters, she portrayed herself and her mother, Romilda Villani. Loren even reprised the latter role in a 2010 Italian series called La Mia Casa E Piena di Specchi (My House Is Full of Mirrors).
#11 Tom Hanks
Source: Lacey Terrell, Sony Pictures Entertainment
Fred Rogers was the focus of the 2019 biopic A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. The renowned actor and Mister Rogers are connected, but Tom Hanks did not know about the connection until just a few days prior to the opening. According to Ancestry.com, the two are “sixth cousins sharing the same 5x great-grandfather.”