Hollywood’s Trending Family Dynasties

Martin Sheen and his wife Janet Sheen with their children (from left) Ramon Estevez, Emilio Estevez, Charlie Sheen, Renee Estevez, 1974.
Ivan Nagy/TV Guide/ Courtesy Everett Collection

Their names ring out like beacons through entertainment history — everyone knows their legendary name be it Sutherland, Dern, Sheen or Douglas. While our May 2023 issue of ReMIND magazine celebrated oodles of iconic stars and their famous children, here we catch you up on a handful making headlines — once again — recently. 


Donald Sutherland & Kiefer Sutherland

CANADA - SEPTEMBER 06: All in the family: Proud father and actor Donald Sutherland had every reason to smile last night when he accompanied his son; Kiefer; to the Toronto Festival of Festivals premiere of the movie The Bay Boy; in which Kiefer co-stars with Leah Pinsent.

Jim Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images

Donald Sutherland, a Canadian actor who has been nominated for nine Golden Globes during his long career, got his start on the stage. After landing some minor roles in British films and TV series, he got his breakthrough with the war film The Dirty Dozen (1967), after which he left London for Hollywood. He was cast as the leading man in many popular films of the 1970s and ’80s, such as The Eagle Has Landed (1976), Fellini’s Casanova (1976) and the spy thriller Eye of the Needle (1981). He was married three times, the second of which was to Shirley Douglas, a Canadian actress, with whom he has two children: twins Rachel and Kiefer Sutherland, star of the acclaimed long-running thriller series 24. “I’m so proud to have him as my father,” Kiefer has said about Donald. “Having grown up with my mother, there’s a kind of distance between us. But I want to impress him. I want him to be proud of me.” Kiefer’s daughter, Sarah Sutherland, is also an actress, most well-known for her role as Vice President Selina Meyer’s daughter on Veep. Kiefer’s latest series, Rabbit Hole recently wrapped up and is currently in limbo on renewal with the current writers strike. While Donald is most recently tied to being cast in the Paramount+ series, Lawmen: Bass Reeves.

Donald also has three children with his current wife, actress Francine Racette, all of whom were named after directors Sutherland worked with (as was Kiefer): Rossif, Angus Redford — both actors — and Roeg. If any family has the acting bug, it’s this one!

Diane Ladd, Bruce Dern & Laura Dern

Diane Ladd, Bruce Dern 1960. Laura Dern inset


While Diane Ladd was nominated three times for an Academy Award for her roles in Rambling RoseWild at Heart and Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, she is probably best known for her role as Ida Sessions in Chinatown — but did you know she is also the mother of fellow Hollywood star Laura Dern? Dern’s father is also an actor, Chicago native and Nebraska star Bruce Dern, who was nominated for two Oscars. The two were married from 1960-69, during which they had Laura. Like many Hollywood children, Laura grew up around sets and even had a few small parts as a child, prompting her to follow in the footsteps of both her parents — despite her mother’s advice, according to Laura, to ”be a lawyer, be a doctor, be a leper missionary, but don’t be an actress!”

HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - FEBRUARY 09: (L-R) Ellery Harper, Jaya Harper, Diane Ladd, and Laura Dern attend the 92nd Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood and Highland on February 09, 2020 in Hollywood, California.

Amy Sussman/Getty Images

Ellery Harper, Jaya Harper, Diane Ladd, and Laura Dern attend the 92nd Annual Academy Awards


Laura ignored this advice, and, instead, would sneak off to talk to her mother’s well-connected friends and would even ask agents at her mother’s birthday parties if they’d let her read for them when she was still a young child! Cast in many critically acclaimed films throughout her long career, such as Blue Velvet (1986), Jurassic Park (1993) and Wild (2014), Laura has also made an imprint in series television, playing an ambitious executive who has a breakdown in the HBO show Enlightened and an upper-class working mother in the Emmy Award-winning hit Big Little Lies. She had two children with former spouse and musician Ben Harper, one of whom — Jaya — was recently featured in a documentary titled Teenage Emotions. Perhaps she, too, will catch the acting bug!

Diane and Laura were recently showcased on CBS Sunday Morning discussing their new memoir they teamed up on, “Honey, Baby, Mine.”

Martin Sheen, Charlie Sheen & Emilio Estevez

Martin Sheen and his wife Janet Sheen with their children (from left) Ramon Estevez, Emilio Estevez, Charlie Sheen, Renee Estevez, 1974.

Ivan Nagy/TV Guide/Courtesy Everett Collection

Martin Sheen and his wife Janet Sheen with their children (from left) Ramon Estevez, Emilio Estevez, Charlie Sheen, Renee Estevez, 1974


In the hilarious 1993 parody film Hot Shots! Part Deux, Charlie Sheen, playing war hero Topper Harley, passes a small patrol boat where a man who looks like the main character in Apocalypse Now, played by his dad Martin Sheen, is sitting. Suddenly, they both stand, smile, point at each other and shout, “I loved you in Wall Street!” It was a beautiful moment, as father and son joke about the time they played father and son in Oliver Stone’s drama about the financial world. “It was interesting having my dad play my dad,” Charlie Sheen once recalled of Wall Street, calling his pop “kind of a genius.” Martin Sheen — born Ramon Estevez — was 21 and his wife 17 when they married in 1961, and in time they had four kids who all went into the business — Charlie Sheen and Emilio, Ramon and Renée Estevez. While Charlie took on his fathers stage name, Emilio chose not to and recently opened up on the Today show about doing so.

Charlie Sheen, Martin Sheen and Emilio Estevez

Jim Smeal/Ron Galella Collection/Getty Images

Martin Sheen has worked with his other kids as well, playing Emilio’s dad in the 1996 drama The War at Home and costarring with daughter Renée in Emilio’s 2010 dramedy The Way. Calling those experiences “beyond joy,” he once added, “You work with your kids … you know where all the buttons are. You helped build that machine. But you forget, they know your machine as well.” It’s no surprise that during and after Charlie Sheen’s famous meltdown — being dismissed from Two and a Half Men, claiming that he was a “warlock with tiger blood,” serving several rehab stints and finding a greater sense of self-care after an HIV-positive diagnosis — his famous father remained by his side. “I adore him,” Martin Sheen later said. “I’ve always, always adored him. His life is a miracle and he’s an extraordinary man.”

Charlie’s making an appearance on Tommy Howell‘s new series on May 19, live in Nashville.

Michael Douglas & Kirk Douglas

ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD, from left: Kirk Douglas, Michael Douglas, (circa 1953), 2005.

Greg Gorman/HBO/Courtesy Everett Collection

It’s fitting that Cast a Giant Shadow, the 1966 postwar drama costarring Kirk Douglas, featured his then 22-year-old son Michael Douglas in an uncredited role as a jeep driver. As Michael — later an Oscar winner for Wall Street — once said, “As an actor, it was really intimidating watching my father, because his personality, his presence was so strong and so dynamic that, forget acting, you just didn’t even know how to be a man.” Kirk was Hollywood royalty, playing Spartacus and Vincent Van Gogh, and starring in The Bad and the Beautiful and Paths of Glory. But he also inherited an aggressiveness from his own unhappy childhood, along with an ambition he passed down to his oldest son. Divorce and remarriage made life complicated between Kirk and his four boys, all of whom went into the business — Michael; Joel and Peter (both producers); and Eric, an actor who died in 2004 of a drug overdose. And while Kirk once said, “I had sworn that I would never ignore my children the way my father ignored me,” there were years of bristling, made worse when Kirk sold his son the film rights to One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and then Michael didn’t cast his dad in the main role (which won an Oscar for Jack Nicholson). But during Kirk’s later years, the rift was mended. When Kirk died in 2020 at age 103, Michael paid sweet tribute: “To the world, he was a legend … but to me and my brothers, he was simply Dad.” 

A FATHER&A SON&ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD, from top: Michael Douglas, Kirk Douglas, 2005.

Michael (now 78) and wife Catherine Zeta-Jones, who have been married since 2000, were making headlines over the weekend as they traveled to Italy on a family vacation with their grown-up children Dylan (22) and Carys (20).

Hollywood Dynasties
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Hollywood Dynasties

May 2023

Moviemaking is definitely in the family business for some of Hollywood’s most notable icons

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