May 30, 2013

Photo Credit: Columbia Pictures

"After Earth" opens this weekend, starring the father and son team of Will and Jaden Smith.

It's not exactly rare for the son of a famous actor to follow in his father's footsteps; Hollywood is littered with second and third generation actors. However, it is rare that they appear in a film together. Sometimes it's just a matter of timing and logistics, but it can also be hard for a second generation actor to overcome the giant shadow his father sometimes casts.

Here's a list of some of the more notable father/son appearances in film. Some were successful from an artistic standpoint, while others doomed the son to forever be known as...well, his father's son.

Martin Sheen & Emilio Estevez, "The War at Home"
Charlie's half-brother Emilio took an extra step in establishing himself as an actor apart from his father's legacy, choosing to go by his birth name (Estevez) rather than use his father's stage name. Emilio had been starring in movies for over a decade when he finally appeared in a movie with his father.

Brendan & Domhnall Gleeson, "Harry Potter"
Movie-goers of a certain age will recognize Brendan Gleeson as "Mad-Eyed Moody" from the "Harry Potter" films, but what they may not realize is that he's also the real-life father of Domhnall Gleeson, who played the oldest Weasley brother.

Photo Credit: Paramount

Jerry & Ben Stiller in "Zoolander"
Jerry didn't play Ben's father in this satire of the fashion world (that honor went to the one and only Jon Voight), but Jerry did factor heavily into the plot as Derek Zoolander's agent, Maury Ballstein. He even gets to save the day at the end of the film.

Alan & Adam Arkin, "Full Moon High"
Okay, look, "Full Moon High" wasn't exactly fine cinema. One of its stars was Ed McMahon and it was about a werewolf, which should tell you all you need to know. It did, though, feature the pairing of father and son acting duo Adam Arkin, star of "Chicago Hope" and "Sons of Anarchy," and his father, the legendary Alan Arkin.

John & Patrick Wayne, "The Alamo," "The Searchers," "McLintock!," "The Green Berets," and others
At the beginning of this article we mentioned how sometimes appearing in movies with a more famous parent can backfire. In this case, Patrick Wayne did it ten times. He was actually more than serviceable in his roles and it undeniably helped kickstart his career. Unfortunately, appearing with his father so often only reminded audiences that he wasn't John Wayne, which hurt him when it came time for him to strike out on his own.

Kirk & Michael Douglas, "It Runs in the Family"
As famous as Kirk Douglas was, his son Michael became an even bigger star in his own right and worked hard to establish his own identity. In fact it wasn't until 2003, when he was into his fourth decade as an actor, that Michael starred in a film alongside his father. Also appearing in the film: his son Cameron and his real-life mother (and Kirk's ex-wife), actress Diana Dill.

Lloyd & Jeff Bridges, "Blown Away"
Jeff Bridges is another actor who worked hard to break out of his father's shadow and became an even bigger star for it. But for the 1994 film "Blown Away," he appeared with his father Lloyd. In an interesting twist, though, Lloyd actually played Jeff's Uncle, who was the only person that knew of his true past and former connections to a terrorist played by Tommy Lee Jones.

Donald & Kiefer Sutherland, "A Time to Kill"
"A Time to Kill" was one of about six thousand film adaptations of John Grisham's novels, so maybe a father-son pairing was statistically inevitable. In this case, though, Donald and Kiefer's characters weren't relanted. Actually, they also were on opposite sides of the drama: Kiefer played one of the racist antagonists, while Donald was a former Civil Rights lawyer that the film's protagonist goes to for advice.

Photo Credit: Twentieth Century Fox

Martin & Charlie Sheen in "Wall Street"
Part of the reason this pairing worked is because by the time this film was released, Charlie had already become a star in his own right. It also sort of fitting, with Charlie as a star on the rise and Martin playing his blue-collar father warning him of the pitfalls of getting too much, too soon. This sort of casting could have been distracting, but in this case it actually made the scenes between the two more meaningful. It was also strangely prophetic considering the troubles Charlie's fame would bring him in the future.

Tom & Colin Hanks, "The Great Buck Howard"
Colin Hanks hasn't quite become the star his father is, but that's a tall order. To his credit, though, he's managed to blaze a trail all his own and establish his own personality. So it didn't hurt to have his father star in this film about defying your father's will to pursue your dreams.

As we've seen, there are positives and negatives to starring alongside a more famous parent. Will starring alongside his father launch Jaden Smith into the stratosphere, or will it forever tether him to his father's legacy? Only time will tell.

And don't forget to tune in for an all new All Access Weekly next Tuesday at midnight!