For Mother’s Day, we look at some Hollywood moms who’ve dared to team up with their daughters onscreen for better and for worse.
Let’s face it: Mothers take on a lot of crazy for their kids. And in Hollywood, it can get even crazier. Picture this cast of mothers at the next PTA meeting: an evil mom with horns branching out of her head, a pasty-wearing mom who can work a pole better than girls half her age, and a mom who becomes a scratching post for a lion. Who said motherhood was easy?
For this Mother’s Day, we wanted to take a look at a select group of A-listers who’ve shown their maternal ways on the big screen…with their real-life daughters acting alongside them.
Some of these mother-daughter pairings were successful…others, not so much (and they’ve got the literal scars to prove it). Regardless of whether their films were a boon or bust, these famous moms and daughters carry with them a memory that’ll replay over and over again. All you have to do is push the “play” button.
Angelina Jolie and Vivienne Jolie-Pitt: She’d recognize her mother anywhere
Angelina Jolie stars as the title character in Maleficent (2014), which tells the tale of Sleeping Beauty from the perspective of Jolie’s malevolent fairy. Jolie’s daughter, Vivienne Jolie-Pitt, also appears in the film, playing a young Princess Aurora. Interesting to note, though, Vivienne wasn’t cast in the part because her parents didn’t want her to follow in their footsteps.
“We think it’s fun for our kids to have cameos and join us on set, but not to be actors. That’s not our goal for Brad [Pitt] and I at all,” Jolie told Entertainment Weekly in a March 2014 interview. Instead, Vivienne got her role because the production was having trouble filming an encounter between the young Aurora and Maleficent.
“The other 3- and 4-year-old [performers] wouldn’t come near me,” Jolie explained. “It had to be a child that liked me and wasn’t afraid of my horns and my eyes and my claws. So it had to be Viv.”
Only time will tell whether Vivienne, who was 4 when she worked on the movie, will catch the acting bug. But at least we know that the little girl will never be scared off by any of Jolie’s Halloween costumes.
Demi Moore and Rumer Willis: A mother and daughter without boundaries
As the star of Striptease (1996), Demi Moore portrayed a loving mother who is forced to start stripping in order to earn money for a custody battle. Her eldest daughter, Rumer Willis, landed the part of Moore’s onscreen offspring.
In her role, Willis had to see some of her mother’s exotic dancing. Some parents might have hesitated about putting their child in such a situation, but Moore felt differently. As she told CNN in 1996, “We don’t shame the body, we encourage the body as something beautiful and natural, and my children bathe with me, and I walk around naked.”
With this in mind, it helps explain the moment in the film when Willis—after her character has witnessed her mother’s sexy striptease—is able to deliver the line, “You looked really pretty.”
Tippi Hedren and Melanie Griffith: The dangers of working with your mother
Tippi Hedren, who is known for her role in Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds (1963), later decided to make her own animal-centric movie: Roar (1981), which featured lions, tigers, leopards, and numerous other big cats. The project was a family affair that featured Hedren’s then-husband, her stepsons, and daughter Melanie Griffith.
Roar had a lasting impact, though not how either mother or daughter had hoped—in the midst of filming, a lion scratched Griffith deeply enough that she had to undergo plastic surgery. Hedren herself was attacked by a lion that bit the back of her neck, and other members of the crew also experienced serious injuries. Unfortunately, all that pain and suffering did not lead to audience interest—the film bombed at the box office when it was released.
In a 2012 interview with the New York Times that touched on Roar, Hedren was asked, “Does Melanie ever say at Christmas, ‘Mom, thank God I wasn’t eaten by the lions’?”
Hedren’s answer? “Oh, we all say that. Thank God we made it. Thank God nobody was killed.”
Meryl Streep and Mamie Gummer: A talented family
As a successful actress, Meryl Streep knew the media attention that could fall on her toddler daughter, Mamie Gummer, for appearing with Streep in Heartburn (1986). So what’s a protective mother to do? For Gummer’s role as Annie, the daughter of Streep’s character, she was credited under the name Natalie Stern.
But Streep didn’t take into account the formidable acting genes that she had passed on to her daughter. Using Gummer’s pseudonym, a New York Times reviewer wrote that “Natalie Stern, an inordinately cute baby, is already accomplished enough to steal scenes even from Miss Streep.”
With early reviews like that, it’s no surprise that Gummer followed in Streep’s footsteps and chose to pursue her own career as an actor.
Vanessa Redgrave and Natasha Richardson: A cinematic memory
In Evening (2007), another mother-daughter duo—Vanessa Redgrave and Natasha Richardson—got to act out their relationship on the big screen, with Richardson portraying one of the daughters of Redgrave’s dying character. It was the first time that the two had played mother and daughter in a movie.
When talking about the making of the film, Richardson noted, “It’s kind of a joy to be in this subject matter where we can actually use a lot of our own relationship and our own history.” However, she also admitted, “Obviously it’s incredibly painful to watch your own mother lie in bed and seem convincingly ill.”
What no one could have guessed was that Richardson herself would be lying in a hospital bed less than two years after Evening was released.
In March 2009, Richardson was injured in a skiing accident in Quebec, Canada. She was soon transferred to a hospital in New York City, where Redgrave and other family members gathered. There, Redgrave sang “Edelweiss” to her daughter before Richardson was taken off life support.
Evening was one of Richardson’s final projects, and remains a cinematic snapshot of her relationship with Redgrave.