CATEGORIES Features
blythe danner and gwyneth paltrowThere's something intriguing about parent-child actors appearing together on screen. Aside from noting similarities in looks and acting styles, we might wonder about their working dynamic -- Difficult? Affectionate? Both? -- and if their roles reflect real life in any way. (The latter's not very likely given some of the movies mentioned below, i.e. 'Wild at Heart.')

Some acting offspring made their film debuts at a very early age, like the cherubic, 18-month-old Liza Minnelli who appeared uncredited at the end of 'In the Good Old Summertime,' playing the daughter of Judy Garland's character. In other instances, the kids were well along in their careers before appearing with their moms in a movie. Undoubtedly some wanted to establish their own acting credentials before working with a famous parent.

In honor of Mother's Day, we bring you a list of real-life mothers and children who have played mother and child on film, plus one notable example of mother-child playing grandmother-child. (We could do a whole other list of movies in which offspring play their parents' characters at a younger age; maybe next year.) blythe danner and gwyneth paltrowThere's something intriguing about parent-child actors appearing together on screen. Aside from noting similarities in looks and acting styles, we might wonder about their working dynamic -- Difficult? Affectionate? Both? -- and if their roles reflect real life in any way. (The latter's not very likely given some of the movies mentioned below, i.e. 'Wild at Heart.')

Some acting offspring made their film debuts at a very early age, like the cherubic, 18-month-old Liza Minnelli who appeared uncredited at the end of 'In the Good Old Summertime,' playing the daughter of Judy Garland's character. In other instances, the kids were well along in their careers before appearing with their moms in a movie. Undoubtedly some wanted to establish their own acting credentials before working with a famous parent.

In honor of Mother's Day, we bring you a list of real-life mothers and children who have played mother and child on film, plus one notable example of mother-child playing grandmother-child. (We could do a whole other list of movies in which offspring play their parents' characters at a younger age; maybe next year.)


diane ladd, laura dernDiane Ladd and Laura Dern in 'Wild at Heart' (1990)
In David Lynch's surreal crime romance, Ladd plays a psychopathic mother who sends a hitman to kill her daughter's ex-con boyfriend (Nicolas Cage), which must have been a pretty challenging acting feat for both mother and daughter. Though not the first time the duo appeared together (seven-year-old Dern appeared uncredited in 'Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore'), 'Wild at Heart' marked their first real collaboration. (They'd next team up for 'Rambling Rose,' though not playing actual mother and daughter.)


emma thompson, phyllida lawPhyllida Law and Emma Thompson in 'The Winter Guest' (1997)
Law and Thompson appeared together in several films ('Peter's Friends,' 'Much Ado About Nothing') before starring in 'The Winter Guest,' Alan Rickman's evocative directorial debut. Set in rural Scotland (Law's native country), the film's central characters are a grieving widow (Thompson) and her aging mother (Law), whose loving, but not-entirely-smooth relationship is beautifully acted and totally believable.


susan sarandon, eva amurriSusan Sarandon and Eva Amurri in 'The Banger Sisters' (2002) and 'Middle of Nowhere' (2008)
Though Eva Amurri made brief appearances in several movies starring her mom ('Bob Roberts,' 'Dead Man Walking,' 'Anywhere But Here'), it wasn't until 'The Banger Sisters' that the then teenaged Amurri had a sizable role as the spoiled, tightly-wound daughter of Sarandon's ex-supergroupie-turned-respectable-housewife character. In indie character study 'The Middle of Nowhere,' Amurri stars as a straight-A student whose dreams of becoming a doctor are nearly destroyed by her fiscally irresponsible mother.


natasha richardson, vanessa redgraveVanessa Redgrave and Natasha Richardson in 'Evening' (2007)
Before Richardson's tragic death last year, she played the daughter of a dying woman (Redgrave) who looks back on her life. ('Evening' boasted another mother-daughter pair: Meryl Streep and Mamie Gummer, the latter portraying the former's younger self.) Previously, Richardson starred in 'The White Countess,' in which her mother played her aunt and her real-life aunt (Lynn Redgrave, who recently passed away) played her mother-in-law. Confusing perhaps, but in the hands of this stellar acting clan, the characters were all very distinct personalities.


gwyneth paltrow, blythe dannerBlythe Danner and Gwyneth Paltrow in 'Sylvia' (2003)
Though the two worked together previously on a TV miniseries, they made their big screen debut together in this biopic about Sylvia Plath, the poet who committed suicide at age 30. Though the film's mainly about the stormy relationship between Plath and her husband, poet Ted Hughes (Daniel Craig), Danner is equally memorable as Sylvia's icy, controlling mother. The two have been busy with separate high-profile sequels ('Meet the Fockers' sequel and 'Iron Man 2' respectively), but it would be great to see them together again.


Talia Shire, Jason SchwartzmanTalia Shire and Jason Schwartzman in 'I Heart Huckabees' (2004)
Shire, the sister of Francis Ford Coppola, is best known for her roles in the 'Rocky' and 'The Godfather' movie franchises; Schwartzman had appeared mainly in indies (most notably 'Rushmore') before they finally shared the screen in David O. Russell's existential comedy 'I Heart Huckabees.' Schwartzman's character is a troubled environmental activist who was traumatized early in life by his mother's insensitivity to the death of his cat.


Mareen O'Sullivan, Mia FarrowMaureen O'Sullivan and Mia Farrow in 'Hannah and her Sisters' (1986)
Farrow had already starred in several movies written and directed by Woody Allen -- with whom she was involved romantically -- before her mom joined her in 'Hannah and Her Sisters,' one of Allen's best. O'Sullivan and Lloyd Nolan portray an affectionately bickering showbiz couple whose three very dissimilar daughters (Barbara Hershey and Dianne Wiest are the other two), are grappling with relationships and life in general. (O'Sullivan died in 1998.)


Diana and Michael DouglasDiana Douglas and Michael Douglas in 'It Runs in the Family' (2003)
Though they both appeared in 1983's 'The Star Chamber,' it wasn't until dysfunctional family dramedy 'It Runs in the Family' that Diana and Michael Douglas got to spend quality screen time together. The movie, a veritable Douglas fest, marked the first time that Michael and his father (Diana's ex) Kirk starred in a movie together; Cameron, Michael's real-life son, was also featured as part of the fictional Gromberg clan, a family trying to come to grips with life and each other.


demi moore, rumer willisDemi Moore and Rumer Willis in 'Striptease' (1996)
Willis first graced the screen at the age of seven, alongside her mother in 'Now and Then.' The next year, she appeared with Moore in the much-maligned crime-comedy 'Striptease,' playing the object of a custody battle between a sleazy father (Robert Patrick) and beleaguered mother who resorts to stripping to pay her bills. (Willis has also appeared in the movie 'Hostage' with her dad, Bruce.)


eileen ryan, sean pennEileen Ryan and Sean and Chris Penn in 'At Close Range' (1986)
Sean Penn, a good son, has included his mom in several of his directorial efforts ('The Indian Runner,' 'The Pledge,' 'I Am Sam'), but before he ever began helming films, Ryan played his grandmother in 'At Close Range' (1986). The disturbing drama about a son's relationship with a cold-hearted criminal father (Christopher Walken) also starred Sean's late brother Chris.