;It's only the kid's first day in the office, but already you hate him. You hate his pleated slacks, his too-personable disposition. You hate his hair. He could change it; it wouldn't matter. He's young. Cocky, too, you decide at once. You're observing him intently now, gathering fuel. Ooh, lookit Mr. Big Shot, finding the break room all by himself. Check out the Boy Scout, bringing his own Tupperware-sealed rice pilaf for lunch. Peep ol' Professor I-Know-How-to-Use-Hot-Keys, he's an esteemed Doctor of Impress-you-ology.




;Of course, if pressed, you'd have to admit: On his own, the rookie probably would represent no particular nuisance. (You endure far worse at the hands of the yahoo one cubicle over – he of the unflagging Aqua Teen impressions.) No, the real problem is the certainty that, even though you and he are at roughly the same notch in the corporate pecking order, the kid'll make assistant branch manager before two months have passed. That's how life goes for people whose daddies/uncles/cousins are board members. Never mind that you've held the same position for nine years without the dangling opportunity of upward mobility. Or that you had to fight and claw and compromise yourself to get even this far, at great expense to your health, self-image and most cherished relationships. Or that –


;Wait. He's coming over here, the punk, grinning like the cat that, with nary a consideration of seniority, usurped the canary. He jabs a large, open hand in your direction. "Hi, I'm new here. My name's Nic Cage. What's yours?"


;And that, more or less, is what I imagine it must be like to be a bitter, struggling actor faced with the realization that in Hollywood, sometimes it isn't what you know or even who you know, but from whose hallowed loins you sprang.


;Now, before we start tossing the dreaded "n" word around ("nepotism," natch), let's get a few things straight. One: As with any field, film-industry aspirants have ever used family ties and influence to their advantage. I can only hope I'd have the good sense to do the same, were I so blessed. The intent herein is not to judge, but simply to illuminate a few noteworthy connections. Let us bear in mind, also, that the presence of a connection doesn't mean it was called into service, and, while a famous relative might provide a first step, getting noticed in L.A. – not to mention winning respect – is a complex endeavor not easily attributable to any single factor.


;Two: Hollywood, in large part, deals in pretty people. When pretty people get together with other pretty people (and with other pretty people, behind the first pretty people's backs), the result is often more pretty people. In those auspicious cases where talent, too, is passed along, everybody wins. The Cage namecheck above, of course, is a reference to the erstwhile Nicolas Kim Coppola's membership in that most sprawling and vital of film clans, whose constituents account for an astounding 22 Oscar nominations and eight wins.


;Five-time-winner-cum-legend Francis Ford leads fellow Oscar-anointed kins[wo]men Sofia (daughter), Cage (nephew), departed patriarch Carmine (father) and Talia Shire (sister); other notables include nephews Jason (actor), John (cinematographer) and Robert (musician) Schwartzman (the last goes by Carmine) and son Roman Coppola (writer/director/actor). Then, of course, we have the Barrymores, the Hustons, the Fondas, the Redgraves, the Ladds, the Bridges, the Arquettes, the Sheen/Estevezes and the Baldwins.


;Screen legends are people, too, and people like sex. The result: Judy Garland (and Vincente Minnelli) begat Liza, Debbie Reynolds (and Eddie Fisher) begat Carrie Fisher, Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh begat Jamie Lee, Kirk begat Michael, and Klute begat a son and christened him Kiefer.


;Patty Duke + Gomez Addams = Rudy (or Samwise, if you like). Voight begat Jolie, and much tumult ensued. One look at Isabella Rossellini suggests an X-chromosome donation from Ingrid Bergman; the surname recalls legendary Italian director Roberto Rossellini. Bingo on both counts.


;Bruce Dern was married to a Ladd (Diane) for just short of a decade, wherein was born Lynch-pin Laura Dern. Almost a quarter- ;century later, Laura and mom would become the first mother-daughter pair to be Oscar-nominated for the same film.


;Surnames, too, reveal ties shared by Paltrow (Gwyneth, Jake and dad Bruce – and let's not forget mom is genius Blythe Danner), Cassavetes (Nick, Zoe and indie-papa John – and let's not forget mom is genius Gena Rowlands) and Clooney (George, aunts Rosemary and Betty, and dad Nick); less obvious, perhaps, is that Campbell Scott is the son of the inimitable George C. And, in case you've been wondering: Bryce Dallas Howard is indeed Ron's daughter, and there certainly is a Robert Downey Sr. – he directed Putney Swope.

;;I also periodically forget that Warren Beatty and Shirley MacLaine are siblings. I genuinely did not know until recently that James Broderick, the suave FBI agent from Dog Day Afternoon, was baby-faced Matthew's pappy. Lawrence Kasdan's kid directed Orange County, starring Tom Hanks' kid.

;;If Law and Order: SVU's Mariska Hargitay is easy on the eyes, it's due in part to Jayne Mansfield and former Mr. Universe Mickey Hargitay; thank Quincy Jones and Peggy Lipton if you've got a fan-crush on daughter Rashida (of the stateside Office). Zooey and Emily Deschanel are daughters to quintuple-nominee cinematographer Caleb (Being There, The Natural, The Passion of the Christ). The Gyllenhaals were born to a director and an Oscar-nominated screenwriter. Caan and Busey spawned eerily familiar kiddos. Julia Roberts' niece (Eric's kid) is the new big-screen Nancy Drew.


;It will always be this way. One day soon, we'll be hearing of little Duffs and Simpsons. Take heart: There may also be little Blanchetts, little Goslings. Madonna's kids'll do something weird, but then P.T. Anderson's kids – or Wes Anderson's – will make up for it. Sure, it may be tougher to catch a break with so many relatives gumming up the works, but just think: If one member of your family makes it, you've all made it.


;Bring on the Suri.


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