They're the dynasties, the establishment, the families with hundreds of film and television credits to their multigenerational names, and as the Hedren-Griffith-Johnsons, Kohans, Ladds and others in THR's exclusive portfolio reveal, they're just now getting started.
Back on the 1972 set of The Harrad Experiment, a 22-year-old Don Johnson, in his highest-profile role yet, acted opposite a legend in the making, Tippi Hedren. Melanie Griffith, Hedren's 14-year-old daughter, who later became one of the most in-demand actresses of the '80s and '90s, played a student in the film. "We were in the stairwell of this Anheuser-Busch Estate waiting for a setup," says Johnson. "We started chitchatting." Recalls Griffith of a scenario that today might spark accusations and perhaps even the attention of law enforcement: "I thought he was the most beautiful person I'd ever seen."
Dakota Johnson, 28, the Fifty Shades of Grey star who is the product of Johnson and Griffith's second marriage, chimes in: "I've never heard that story." Says Griffith with a laugh: "Yeah, we have some that we never told you." Four years after that stairwell meeting, the first of two unions (and divorces) between Griffith, 60, and Johnson, 68, began. Hedren, now 87, recalls her misgivings. "They were two beautiful, wonderful people, and here, my daughter was showing signs that I had never seen before in her, with an older man, and there was just sheer panic," she says. "How do you handle that? There was a very strong attachment between the two of them." Adds Don, "Still is." Griffith puts her head on his shoulder, and Dakota jokes, "I keep my therapist on speed dial."
Despite an unorthodox history, the family has achieved what few have, working with directing legends, from Alfred Hitchcock (Hedren) and Mike Nichols (Griffith) to Sidney Lumet (Don) and David Fincher (Dakota). Each savvily chose signature roles that captured their particular era's zeitgeist: Hedren's The Birds, Don Johnson's Miami Vice, Griffith's Oscar-nominated everywoman turn in Working Girl and Dakota Johnson's Fifty Shades franchise.
Matriarch Hedren blazed the trail as one of Hitchcock's cool blondes in 1963's The Birds and Marnie a year later. But behind the scenes, Hitchcock harassed his star mercilessly, threatening to end her career if she didn't acquiesce to his sexual demands and isolating her from cast, crew and her only child with the late actor Peter Griffith. "I wasn't allowed to go to the set," says Griffith. The director also sent a 6-year-old Griffith a figurine of her mother lying down in a box. "It was a fucking coffin!" exclaims Griffith.
In a show of strength decades ahead of her time, Hedren refused to make another movie with Hitchcock despite being locked in a seven-year contract with him. "She became an example of what to never let happen in my life," says Griffith. "Hopefully, I've passed that on to Dakota — to be strong in your work and in yourself." Adds Dakota, who next appears in Luca Guadagnino's Suspiria and Fifty Shades Freed: "I was taught self-respect and grace and strength. Never before this moment did anyone in my family [explicitly] say, like, 'Be careful.' Sometimes, powerful men in Hollywood will try to whatever."
Of the four, the youngest member of the clan is the busiest, or, as Griffith jokes, "Dakota's the only one who's getting scripts." But Hedren — a big-cat activist who founded the Shambala Preserve in Acton, California — still is going strong, appearing in roughly one film a year. For her part, Griffith is picking quality work, playing a small role in this year's awards-season hopeful The Disaster Artist. In recent years, Don Johnson has pivoted between TV (Sky Atlantic's Sick Note and HBO's Eastbound & Down) and film, co-starring in this year's Brawl in Cell Block 99 and in the upcoming adult-skewing Book Club opposite Mary Steenburgen, Jane Fonda and Diane Keaton (the film sold to Paramount for $10 million in the biggest deal out of AFM).
"There are things we have to manage [as actors]," says Don Johnson. "You have times when you're a pretty big deal, and then when you're not such a big deal. What it all comes back to is the work and how much joy that you get out of doing it." — Tatiana Siegel
Last year, when the $100 million reboot of Ben-Hur opened to blistering reviews and crashed at the box office, its star Jack Huston took the failure in stride. "I did everything — blood, sweat and tears. But any movie is out of your hands. You take a shot, and sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't," he says philosophically. Sitting nearby, his aunt Anjelica, however, pounces to his defense like a mother lion: "It's amazing what he did in that movie — not to mention, sort of endangering his life in the chariot scene. That wasn't CGI. Jack put his ass on the line!" She pauses, simmers down and adds: "If I see that someone in the family is being badly criticized in a way that they don't deserve, I become infuriated. I know how hard it is to act in a movie when maybe the standards aren't what you would like. You get blamed for a lot of that. So I feel more upset if I read a bad review for any member of my family than I do for myself."
Family first. That's the credo of the Huston clan gathered around the dining table of Anjelica's resplendent Pacific Palisades home. There's Jack, 35, best known for Boardwalk Empire (and slated to star with Isabelle Huppert in Matthew Weiner's 2018 miniseries The Romanoffs); his uncle Danny, 55, enjoying the glow off of summer blockbuster Wonder Woman, in which he played villain General Ludendorff; and Anjelica, 66-year-old Oscar winner for 1986's Prizzi's Honor and resident matriarch. Tall, elegant and fiercely passionate, the formidable Huston progeny represent third- and fourth-generation Hollywood.
Their legacy started with Anjelica and Danny's grandfather, Walter Huston, the Canadian-born vaudevillian who won an Oscar for his supporting role in 1948's The Treasure of the Sierra Madre. That landmark was helmed by their father, Walter's son and maverick filmmaker John Huston, who won Oscars for best director and best adapted screenplay. His dozens of writing and directing credits include an uncommon number of classics (The Maltese Falcon, Moby Dick, The Misfits, Key Largo) and cult films (The Dead, which featured Anjelica and was written by her brother Tony; and Mr. North, directed by Danny and co-starring Anjelica).
Such range and dogged ambition are defining Huston traits. While Jack claims to have faint memories of his grandpa John (who died in 1987 from emphysema), none of them knew Walter (who died in 1950). But all are well versed in Huston lore. Says Jack, "In Walter's biography, it said that at 16 years old he got on a freight train and came to New York and worked for nothing for many, many years. You realize the drive to [act] that much. I think every single one of us would do the same thing."
Anjelica sees the Huston legacy this way: "It starts with my father's extremely serious work policy and his ideas that pure labor is aristocratic in itself and that to give yourself over to an artistic pursuit is a thing to be highly prized. And if you do have an ambition, that you have to really honor it and get behind it and set a standard to uphold that ambition. I am competitive and ambitious, and it stems from that will to excel." Adds Danny: "It's always easier being a Huston [than not]. You can always get your foot in the door, but then you have to deliver. At times, people tend to be a little more critical. And why not? One of the first films I directed, some lovely reviewer said, 'John Huston passed the baton to his son Danny, only he tripped and dropped it.' Ouch! But it's OK. You take hits. Hustons are gamblers. We're art seekers."
Besides, when it comes to reviews, the opinions they value most are one another's. "The greatest review is having Anjelica like my work," says Danny. "We're harsh critics. I know that Anjelica's not going to mince her words." Jack agrees: "If Danny or Anjelica come up to me and say, 'God, that was good,' it's the greatest compliment I can ever get."
When it comes to the director's romantic relationships, a scorecard helps. John Huston was married five times, and only Anjelica and Tony, now a lawyer, share the same two parents. They are the children of John's second wife, Enrica Soma, a prima ballerina. Neither sibling knew about Danny — John's out-of-wedlock child with actress Zoe Sallis — until he was 2. Their half sister, writer Allegra, was born to Soma and another man when the dancer was estranged from John, yet the director adopted and raised her after her mother was killed in a car accident in 1969. But parentage was never a dividing factor for the Hustons. Says Anjelica, "We're very united in our dedication to each other and to our family." — Mark Morrison
Quincy Jones, 84, is best known as the Grammy-winning icon who produced for Frank Sinatra and Michael Jackson and composed the soundtracks for In the Heat of the Night (1969) and The Italian Job (1969). But he has been nearly as productive on the family front, fathering seven kids with five women, three of whom he was married to.
After marrying high school sweetheart Jeri Caldwell and having one daughter (not pictured), Jones wed Swedish actress Ulla Andersson in 1967; they had Martina, 51, a model, and Quincy Jones III, 48, a music producer. Jones' third marriage, to model Peggy Lipton, yielded actor-writers Kidada, 43, and Rashida, 41. Jones also had a brief affair with dancer Carol Reynolds, with whom he had daughter Rachel, 54, who calls herself the "Quincy Jones of veterinarian medicine." (Jones' youngest daughter, with actress Nastassja Kinski, is model Kenya Julia Miambi Sarah Jones, 24, not pictured.)
"We laugh a lot," says Angie Tribeca star Rashida about growing up Jones. "In an industry that is sometimes shady, sometimes lame, sometimes frustrating, it's nice that none of those are words I would use to describe my family."
THR asked patriarch Quincy about raising such a sprawling family.
Did you encourage your kids to go into entertainment?
I didn't encourage them or discourage them. They were always with me as much as possible, so they were exposed to the entertainment business and could make their own decision.
Was there anyone you brought home who your kids were starstruck by?
Are you kidding me!? There was always someone coming by, from Steve McQueen to Brando and Spielberg to Michael.
Were you a strict dad?
When I had to be — I always paid attention.
What parenting advice would you give them?
Know yourself and love who you are. That way you can transfer that love to your child. — Jane Carlson
Val Kilmer, 57, is seated on a couch in his Brentwood art studio, which is spilling from every crevice with his personal projects. (A spray-painted "GOD" stencil is a recurring motif.) Next to him are Mercedes, 26, and Jack, 22, his two children with ex-wife Joanne Whalley, the English actress who was his co-star in the 1988 Ron Howard fantasy film Willow.
Shortly after Val's diagnosis, Mercedes was hit by a car in a scary accident that left a scar down her leg. "We were in the same hospital at the same time," she recalls. Adds Jack, "I was just, you know, miserable, distraught, sitting next to these two." Val, a Christian Scientist, says his faith helped him get through those ordeals, and he has undergone chemotherapy to combat the disease. These days, he keeps things light. "I was too serious," he admits of his movie-star moment. "I'd get upset when things like Oscars and recognition failed to come my way." Was an Oscar something he always wanted? "I would like to have more Oscars than anybody," he says. "Meryl Streep must feel pretty good, you know? It must feel nice to know that everyone loves her. It's about being loved." — Seth Abramovitch
Buz Kohan is recounting another colorful story from 50 years in Hollywood. "I was doing an Ann-Margret special, and there was a kid who was a gofer. Because he came from New York, I took him under my wing. Years later …" Here, his son David picks up the narrative: "… I was applying for summer jobs and writing all these producers letters. I got a call from one: Joel Silver. He said, 'You know why I called you? Because one person was nice to me when I was a PA. Your father.'"
Gathered in David's sprawling home, the Kohans — Buz, David and kid sister Jenji — laugh and note the lesson. "'Be nice to the people below you,'" says Jenji. "They will rule the industry and remember how they were treated." That wisdom has worn well for these TV storytellers. Buz, 84, has won 13 Emmys for The Carol Burnett Show, specials and Oscarcasts. David, 53, co-created Will & Grace, for which he won an Emmy in 2000. Jenji, 48, created Weeds for Showtime and Orange Is the New Black on Netflix and is an exec producer on the streamer's SAG-nominated GLOW.
So what is the Kohan legacy? "Capturing a voice that existed at our dinner table" — also fostered by mom and author Rhea Kohan — "and putting it into television," says David. Not that they were encouraged to follow in their father's footsteps (David's twin, Jono, is a real estate investor). Says Jenji, "We were supposed to be doctors, lawyers, or I was supposed to marry well."
Today, the family includes David's wife, Blair Kohan, a partner at UTA; Jenji's husband, author Christopher Noxon; and his showrunner sister, Marti Noxon (Bravo's Girlfriends' Guide to Divorce). For Buz's kids, TV "didn't seem like a pipe dream," says David. "I remember being on set, seeing cameras and lights. I thought, 'This is where grown-up things happen.'" It's no wonder, then, that his daughter, Olivia, 22, is a PA on Will & Grace. — Mark Morrison
"We all speak movie," actress Jordan Ladd, 42, says of her family. It started with her grandfather Alan Ladd, an Arkansas native who became one of the biggest stars of the '40s and early '50s in film noirs like 1942's This Gun for Hire and the iconic 1953 Western Shane before his death from an accidental drug overdose in 1964.
"He was at the top of his game, but I had no idea what he did until I was about 6 and first saw him on film and shouted, 'That's my dad,'" says his son and namesake, Alan Ladd Jr.
His father didn't encourage "Laddie," as he came to be known, to enter the business. But his son loved movies — as a student at USC, he'd haunted the big movie palaces in downtown Los Angeles — and "because I couldn't get into any of the guilds," Laddie became first an agent at Creative Management Associates, then moved his growing family to London, where he cut his teeth as a producer, before finally returning to Los Angeles in 1973 to join 20th Century Fox, where he was named president three years later.
"Initially, I think he felt overshadowed by his father's career," says Laddie's daughter Amanda Ladd-Jones, 45, who recently completed a documentary, nine years in the making, about her dad, Alan Ladd Jr: The Man Behind the Movies.
As he put his stamp on Fox — famously greenlighting Star Wars after United Artists and Universal turned it down; suggesting to Ridley Scott that the lead in Alien be played by a woman — the press stopped referring to Laddie as "the son of," recognizing him as a force in his own right.
Kelliann Ladd, 56 — the eldest of his four daughters who would become a producer of films like the Robert Redford starrer An Unfinished Life — recalls how her dad, known as a low-key, gentlemanly exec, gave her an early look at Star Wars while it was still in development. "I read a bunch of the treatments and scripts —which was cool — except for the version that was all about droids," she laughs. She theorizes that he made female-focused movies like Jane Fonda's Julia and Sally Field's Norma Rae in part because he was surrounded by women at home. "Well, I certainly wasn't afraid of women — those films all had good scripts with great actresses," says Ladd, now 80, who left Fox to create The Ladd Co. in 1979, which turned out films like the best picture winner Chariots of Fire. "Movies like The Right Stuff and Chariots of Fire won all the awards, but it was the Police Academy movies that made the money for us," he says. Ultimately, he would earn a personal Oscar himself as a producer of 1995's Braveheart.
Meanwhile, Laddie's half brother David Ladd, 70, was carving out his own career. Entering acting as a teen, he co-starred as a kid with his father in The Proud Rebel, only to move into producing in his mid-30s with films like Wes Craven's The Serpent and the Rainbow before serving as an exec at MGM during most of the '90s. "I had a pretty good run when I was young," he recalls of his earlier acting days, but his parents insisted he complete college, and when he returned to acting, "it wasn't as gratifying. I quickly knew I wanted to be on the other side of the camera."
For Jordan — David's daughter from his marriage to actress Cheryl Ladd and best known for her work in Death Proof and Cabin Fever — joining the family business was inevitable. On Sunday nights, she says, the entire clan met at Laddie's home, where, after dining on cold cuts from Nate 'n Al, they'd screen the latest films, "watching Missing and Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid, maybe films we shouldn't have been watching as kids. But we became well-versed in cinema, which always held a magic for me." — Gregg Kilday
Sidney Poitier made Oscar history in 1964 as the first African-American to win best actor, for Lilies of the Field. He was knighted by Queen Elizabeth a decade later, and in 2009 was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama. But the film legend is vehement about how he discouraged his six daughters from going into showbiz. (Poitier also has eight grandchildren and three great-grandkids.) "No, we wanted them to become doctors and lawyers!" he exclaims, referring to first wife Juanita, now 87, and wife Joanna, 74, both pictured.
Yet Hollywood has its seductions. Says his daughter Anika, 45, an actress-director who helmed two episodes of BBC's The Choir in 2013: "Growing up, we put on plays or dance recitals for our parents and their friends after dinner parties. Our audience members were Sean Connery, Roger Moore and Michael Caine." Adds Sydney Poitier-Heartsong, 43, who stars in AXN's upcoming detective procedural Carter, out in 2018: "When Anika and I were growing up, my father's Oscar sat on the desk in his study. We just thought it was a really heavy, super cool gold doll we could incorporate into our games. Turns out that's not the norm." Joanna, a former actress, sums it up, "I guess the apple really doesn't fall far from the tree."
But at least one child agrees with Sidney's take: "I was appalled by my father's job," says his eldest daughter, jewelry designer Beverly Poitier-Henderson, 65. "Everyone else's dad was a policeman, doctor, preacher, teacher. But my father was an actor — it was embarrassing. What kind of job is that?" — Jeanie Pyun
1. Guylaine Gouraige, granddaughter, 23
2. Gabrielle Gouraige, granddaughter, 19
3. Gina Poitier-Gouraige, daughter, 56; administrative assistant
4. Sherri Poitier, daughter, 63; chef
5. Beverly Poitier-Henderson, daughter, 65; jewelry designer
6. Aisha LaBarrie, granddaughter, 40; children's clothier
7. Etienne Gouraige, grandson, 22
8. Juanita Marie Hardy Poitier, first wife, 87; appeared as herself in the 2014 documentary Life's Essentials With Ruby Dee
9. Pamela Poitier, daughter, 63; actress who appeared in 1997's The Jackal
10. Anika Poitier, daughter, 45; actress-director who helmed episodes of BBC's The Choir in 2013
11. March, grandson, 2
12. Sydney Ayele LaBarrie, great-granddaughter, 12
13. Joanna Poitier, wife, 74; actress whose most recent appearance is in the 2010 short Yard Sale
14. Paloma, granddaughter, 6
15. Kai LaBarrie, great-granddaughter, 10
16. Sidney Poitier, 90; acting icon who won the best actor Oscar for 1963's Lilies of the Field
17. Sydney Poitier-Heartsong, daughter, 43; actress who co-stars with Jerry O'Connell in Sony Pictures TV Networks' Carter, a detective procedural airing in 2018
18. Sunny Plum, granddaughter, 2
19. Diarra LaBarrie, great-granddaughter, 7
Donald Sutherland was preparing for the 1983 film Max Dugan Returns when he noticed in the script that his character had a son — a teenage baseball player with no lines. He immediately thought of his eldest son, then 16.
"I said [to director Herbert Ross], 'What about Kiefer — he's here staying with me and he's a terrific athlete.' He said, 'I have to audition him,'" recalls Sutherland, 82. "He took Kiefer into his trailer for an hour and a half, and [Ross] came out and said, 'He's not an actor.'" The elder Sutherland adds: "I told Kiefer, and it made him so angry, he was so insulted, that maybe that catalyzed him. All he wanted was a job so he could buy a decent suit."
The Canadian teen did land the cameo after an audition — which kick-started a career that has spanned 35 years and encompassed such hits as The Lost Boys and Flatliners on the big screen and 24 and Designated Survivor on TV. But from Kiefer's perspective, both Dad and Mom, Canadian stage actress Shirley Douglas, were ambivalent about him acting.
"I was always grateful to my parents for letting me find my way," says Kiefer, now 50. "They were there if I wanted to talk to them, but they never pushed me. In fact, both of my parents were disappointed that this was what I wanted to do. I think I felt the same way for my daughter." He's referring to his only child, Sarah Sutherland, 29, who has become a breakout hit as the long-suffering first daughter Catherine Meyer on Veep.
"My father tried to lovingly deter me," she says, but seeing her dad in a 1997 Toronto production of The Glass Menagerie when she was 7 was "something I'll never forget. At a young age, to see someone you know so well successfully be someone else is profound."
With all of the successes in his family, including CAA agent Roeg, 43 (from his third marriage to Canadian actress Francine Racette), patriarch Donald inadvertently led by example. His five children gravitated toward the industry, including Kiefer's twin sister, Rachel Sutherland, a Toronto-based postproduction producer who has worked on such fare as the TV series Dark Matter. His and Racette's other sons, Rossif, 39, and Angus, 35, also are actors. "In no way did I influence their career choices," says Donald. "They're all independent people. They might have looked at me and said, 'Shit, I don't want to do that.' But I have certainly not ever said, 'Oh, you should be an actor.'"
As for any advantage conferred by having a famous father, Kiefer remains skeptical. "I watch my daughter, who's an extraordinary actor, and she's had to grind it out," he says. "It would be interesting to find out behind closed doors if someone ever said [when] it's neck and neck between two people, 'Oh, let's give him a shot because I'm friends with his old man.' I have no idea if that ever happens." — Tatiana Siegel
This story first appeared in the Dec. 18 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.