Having a famous relative doesn’t hurt when you’re trying to make it in a competitive business like music or the movies — but while it may get your foot in the door, you’ll have to prove yourself talented and worthy of that big break on your own merits.
In some cases, the connection between a famous parent and their celebrity offspring is clear, especially if they share the same surname or their family tree is well-known. For instance, actor Colin Hanks is Tom Hanks’s son. Liza Minnelli is the daughter of old time Hollywood royalty — director Vincente Minnelli and singer/actress Judy Garland. More recently, Dylan Penn has followed in the footsteps of her famous mother and father — actors Robin Wright and Sean Penn. (Here are 50 celebrities with famous parents.)
Yet for some celebrity kinfolk, the relationship may not be so obvious. Last names are often different because the ties that bind are distant — and even when they share the same last name, you might not be aware that they’re related, probably because they want to keep it that way.
To assemble a list of celebrities you didn’t know were related, 24/7 Tempo reviewed articles on the subject on numerous entertainment and general interest sites, and verified credits and biographical details using IMDb, an online movie database owned by Amazon.
The people on this list might be related through blood — parent and offspring, brother and sister — but they might also be distant cousins (Lenny Kravitz and Al Roker, for example) or aunt and niece (like Julia Roberts and Emma Roberts).
In other cases, they’re related through marriage. Barbra Streisand became Josh Brolin’s stepmother after she wed his father, James Brolin. Writer and feminist Gloria Steinem is stepmother to actor Christian Bale. Peter Sarsgaard is married to Maggie Gyllenhaal, making him Jake Gyllenhaal’s brother-in-law. (These are the 30 longest-lasting celebrity marriages.)
Some celebrities prefer not to advertise their kinship with other famous people, perhaps hoping to avoid charges of nepotism. Yet all the names listed here have had successful careers, and almost certainly would have even if they hadn’t had famous relatives.