As of late, the conversation about nepo babies in Hollywood has reached fever pitch, but the truth is that Tinseltown has been chock full of talented actors with famous connections since… well, since the beginning. And it just hasn’t slowed down.
Many of these offspring have even played the onscreen children of their mom or dad. That’s exactly the case for blockbuster star Adam Sandler, who portrays the father of his real-life daughters, 14-year-old Sunny and Sadie, 17, in the new Netflix comedy flick You Are So Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah.
Both of them have been in their dad’s movies before, and in fact have played the daughters of their real-life mom and Sandler’s wife, Jackie Sandler, more than once. (Makes sense because Adam and Jackie met when she appeared in his 1999 hit Big Daddy, before they married in 2003.) At least one of their daughters, if not both, have had small parts in many of his movies going back to 2008’s Grown Ups. The girls even voiced characters in Hotel Transylvania (2012) and its sequels.
The Sandlers’ latest project, though, features Adam and his daughters as a unit, with Sunny starring as a teen, Stacy Friedman, preparing for the traditional Jewish ceremony that marks the entrance to adulthood. Sadie plays her sister Ronnie Friedman, while Adam is billed as Danny Friedman. Idina Menzel steps in as the family matriarch, Bree Friedman. (Jackie plays the character of Gabi Rodriguez Katz.)
The Wedding Singer star has reportedly said that Sunny and Sadie regularly declare that they want to do their own films one day. Although he told frequent co-star Drew Barrymore on her talk show that they tend to act like performing on his movies are a chore after they’ve been there for a while.
Sunny and Sadie Sandler certainly aren’t the first celebrity kids to act as the children of their real-life parents in film. There are a slew of other times this has happened. Here’s a look:
Sean and Dylan Penn
In 2021, Dylan Penn, the adult daughter of Oscar winner Sean and his famous ex, Robin Wright, co-headlined Flag Day, a movie about the daughter of a con artist (Sean) coming to terms with her family’s past. Her dad even directed.
Meryl Streep and Mamie Gummer
Makes sense that Streep, the most nominated person in the Academy Awards’ acting categories, would pass on her sizable talent. Gummer, whose dad is Streep’s husband Don Gummer, appeared on Broadway and on TV as the title character in Emily Owens M.D., before she played the daughter of a rock ‘n’ roller —her mom — who abandoned her family years ago trying to make amends.
Donald and Kiefer Sutherland
Father and son Donald and Kiefer Sutherland teamed up for Forsaken, a 2015 drama about a gunslinger (Kiefer) patching up his relationship with his religious father in the Old West.
Leslie Mann and Maude and Iris Apatow
Writer/director Judd Apatow has often included his daughters, Maude, 25, and 20-year-old Iris, in his comedy films, including Funny People, Knocked Up and 2012’s This Is 40, which all featured them as the daughters of their actual mom, Leslie Mann.
Martin Sheen and Emilio Estevez
Martin Sheen (born Ramón Estévez) played the father of his Brat Packer son Emilio, one of four sons who followed him into his profession, in multiple projects, most recently the 2010’s The Way, which Emilio wrote and directed.
Tom and Colin Hanks
In 2008, The Great Buck Howard cast Colin Hanks as a young man who’s just quit law school in the hopes of doing something different with his life and ends up working as an assistant for a washed-up magician-type who was once so big that he appeared on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson 61 times. His father, a fresh off Charlie Wilson’s War Tom Hanks, is just one of the people in his life who are asking him what the heck he’s doing in what they see as a lowly job.
Brad Pitt and Shiloh Jolie-Pitt
The unfortunate family drama between Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt was still years away when their young daughter Shiloh — who’s been the target of paparazzi since birth — appeared onscreen as his daughter in 2008’s The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.
Susan Sarandon and Eva Amurri
Eva Amurri’s credits include playing the daughter of real-life mom Susan Sarandon in movies such as The Banger SIsters (2002) and, in 2008, the dramedy Middle of Nowhere. Amurri, who’s sometimes referred to as Eva Amurri Martino, was born to the Oscar winner and then-partner Franco Amurri, himself a director and screenwriter, in 1985.
Will and Willow Smith
In the 2007 action blockbuster I Am Legend, star Will Smith totes along his little girl — played by future “Whip My Hair” singer Willow — as he attempts to save humanity.
Will and Jaden Smith
A year before that, he and son Jaden — who, like Willow, is the child of Will and actress Jada Pinkett Smith — teamed up for his Oscar-nominated film The Pursuit of Happyness. Both Smith kids have continued to work in film, as well as music and TV.
Ben and Jerry Stiller
Sadly, Seinfeld alum Jerry Stiller died in 2020, but son Ben will always be able to look back at the 2007 movie The Heartbreak Kid for footage of them together as father and son.
Bruce and Rumer Willis
Rumer Willis, the firstborn child of mega-movie stars Bruce Willis and Demi Moore, first appeared in her mom’s movie Now and Then in 1995, when she was just 5. A decade later, she and her dad co-starred in the action thriller Hostage, in which he played a hostage negotiator whose own family, including daughter Amanda (Rumer), is kidnapped.
Gwyneth Paltrow and Blythe Danner
Actress-turned-Goop-guru Gwyneth Paltrow was born into a showbiz family, too. Dad Bruce Paltrow, who died in 2002, was a director and producer, while mom Blythe Danner had acted in TV shows and movies since the ’70s. When Gwyneth, already an Oscar winner for Shakespeare in Love, played poet Sylvia Plath in the 2003 biopic Sylvia, who better than Danner to be her mom, Aurelia.
Kirk, Michael and Cameron Douglas
The 2003 film It Runs in the Family was, well, a family affair for the Douglases, as many of them portrayed relatives in a dysfunctional family trying to make things right with one another. Kirk Douglas, his son Michael and Michael’s own son Cameron, who later spent time in prison on drug charges, were just some of those involved. Cameron’s mom is Michael’s ex-wife, Diandra Luker, whom he was married to from 1977 to 2000, the year he married Catherine Zeta-Jones.
Angela Jolie and Jon Voight
Oscar winner Jon Voight and superstar daughter Angelina Jolie have been estranged at times, but they played father and daughter in action movie Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, based on a video game franchise, in 2001.
Phoebe Cates and Kevin, Greta and Owen Kline
Retired actress Phoebe Cates, husband Kevin Kline and their, at the time, young children, Greta and Owen, played a family in the 2001 indie movie The Anniversary Party. Unfortunately for fans, the star of Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Gremlins and Shag hasn’t appeared in a film since.
Demi Moore and Rumer Willis
Another of Rumer Willis’s early roles was that of Angela Grant, the young daughter of Erin Grant, a stripper and single mother in Moore’s much discussed 1996 film Striptease.
James and Scott Caan
Late actor James Caan and his son Scott were open about the troubles they’d had as father and son. “To say our relationship wasn’t dysfunctional would be a lie,” Scott told People in 2010, pointing to his father’s struggle with drug addiction. Nevertheless, the two were connected enough to collaborate on the 1995 movie A Boy Called Hate in Scott’s first credited film role. He headlined as “an angry maladjusted young man” who’s on the run, while James was — who else? — his dad. In the same interview, 12 years before his death, James noted that they had become “best buddies.”
Sylvester and Sage Stallone
While Rocky star Sylvester Stallone is perhaps best known as the father of Sophia, Sistine and Scarlet, the daughters he shares with third wife Jennifer Flavin, he and his first wife, Sasha Czack, had two sons before that. The eldest, Sage, stepped in as his dad’s son in the fifth installment of the boxing franchise, which led to 10 or so more acting jobs, before he tragically died of a heart attack in 2012.
Laura Dern and Diane Ladd
Jurassic Park star Laura Dern, the daughter of acclaimed actors Diane Ladd and Bruce Dern, played on film sets for as long as she can remember. In her early 20s, she found her breakthrough role in David Lynch’s 1990 drama Wild at Heart. Her character, Lula, and Sailor (Nicolas Cage) go on the run from her mother (Ladd), who has her own sinister plans. Ladd was nominated for an Oscar for her role.
Charlie and Martin Sheen
Long before he played the president on The West Wing, Martin Sheen had a gig as the working-class dad of his son (Charlie), an up-and-coming stock broker in Wall Street.
Beau and Jordan Bridges
Jordan Bridges was kinda destined to end up in Hollywood. The son of actor Beau Bridges, the nephew of Jeff Bridges and the grandson of the late Lloyd Bridges, has been acting since the ’80s, when he and his pop starred in the wholesome 1986 film The Thanksgiving Promise, which aired as The Disney Sunday Movie on ABC. His uncle and grandpa made cameos too.
Henry and Jane Fonda
One of Jane Fonda’s stand-out roles is that of Chelsea, the adult daughter of Norman, a cranky old man whose daughter makes a final attempt to connect with him in his waning years in 1981’s On Golden Pond. It’s also one of her personal favorites, and she even co-produced it. As the actress explained to the New York Times in 2001, the film was “a gift to my father,” with whom she had a difficult relationship. The project marked his last appearance in a theatrical movie before his death in 1982, and it netted him his only Oscar.
Tatum and Ryan O’Neal
Tatum O’Neal’s acting debut was not much of stretch. She became the youngest person ever to win an Academy Award for her work in the 1973 film Paper Moon, in which she was father Ryan O’Neal’s possible daughter Addie. She was 10 when she won the Best Supporting Actress trophy. “All I really want to thank is my director, Peter Bogdanovich, and my father. Thank you,” she said at the podium.
You Are So Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah premieres Friday, Aug. 25 on Netflix.