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Top 10 British Actors Who Overshadow Their Famous Parents

VO: Richard Bush WRITTEN BY: Marc Turner
Success certainly runs in these families. Welcome to WatchMojo UK, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 British Actors who Overshadow Their Parents. For this list, we’re looking at actors who achieved the impossible and found greater success in their careers than their already famous parents. Special thanks to our user WordToTheWes for submitting the idea on our interactive suggestion tool: WatchMojo.comsuggest

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Top 10 British Actors Who Overshadow Their Parents

Success certainly runs in these families. Welcome to WatchMojo UK, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 British Actors who Overshadow Their Parents.

For this list, we’re looking at actors who achieved the impossible and found greater success in their careers than their already famous parents.

#10: Rosamund Pike

Pike’s parents Caroline and Julian were both successful opera singers, and it was while watching them perform that Rosamund contracted the showbiz bug. The now-actress was a gifted cellist at first, but what she really wanted was to be a film star. Of course, her breakthrough role came in the Bond film “Die Another Day”, and she has since starred in movies ranging from “Doom” to “Pride & Prejudice”. Now Rosamund is a household name, much more so than her parents, mostly thanks to her chilling, Oscar-nominated performance as Amy Dunne in “Gone Girl”.

#9: Jerome Flynn

“Game of Thrones” fans will recognise Flynn as the ever-cunning Bronn, but they might not know his father was also an actor. The late Eric Flynn was a star of both TV and film, with his CV including a part in “Doctor Who”. There’s no doubt, though, that the son has eclipsed his dad’s fame, not just for his role in HBO’s fantasy drama, but also as one half of the ’90s duo Robson and Jerome. And Jerome’s success doesn’t end there, with notable roles in programmes like “Ripper Street” and “Black Mirror”, for example.

#8: Daniel Day-Lewis

Day-Lewis’s father Cecil was Poet Laureate from 1968 to 1972, but it was actually Daniel’s mother who inspired her son’s chosen profession. Jill Balcon was a successful actress on stage and screen, perhaps best known for her role as Lady Bracknell in “An Ideal Husband”. Daniel, though, has easily outshone both his parents. A renowned method actor, he is widely considered to be one of the greatest of all time in his profession, winning Oscars for his roles in “My Left Foot”, “There Will Be Blood” and “Lincoln”.

#7: Kate Beckinsale

It is perhaps inevitable that Beckinsale went into acting, since both her parents were actors too. Richard Beckinsale appeared in sitcoms like “Porridge” and “Rising Damp”, while Judy Loe’s career includes a small part alongside her daughter in the 2015 comedy “Absolutely Anything”. Kate made a name for herself in British costume dramas, but she has since become a Hollywood regular with roles in “Pearl Harbour” and the “Underworld” franchise. And, with her award-winning work in 2016’s “Love & Friendship”, Kate’s career has clearly hit highs that her performer parents’ failed to reach.

#6: Keira Knightley

Like other actors on this list, Knightley comes from an acting family. Her father’s career includes TV roles such as Doctor Mortimer in “The Hound of the Baskervilles”, whilst her mother, Sharman Macdonald, worked as an actor for seven years before turning her hand to screenwriting. Interestingly, the romantic drama “The Edge of Love”, in which Knightley stars, was written by her mother with her daughter in mind. Since then, Knightley’s career has gone from strength to strength, thanks to roles in blockbusters such as the “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise.

#5: Ralph Fiennes

Neither of Fiennes’ parents are actors, yet they still have an artistic streak. Ralph’s mother was a painter and novelist, whilst his father was a photographer and illustrator whose work appeared in museums all around the world. All but one of Fiennes’ siblings have had careers in the arts, but there is no doubt that Ralph’s star has risen highest among them. Along with a BAFTA award for “Schindler’s List”, Fiennes has a CV that boasts films such as “The Constant Gardener” and the “Harry Potter” franchise.

#4: Emma Thompson

Thompson is another actress to come from an artistic family, with both her sister and her mother – Phyllida Law – forging careers on screen. Law is best known for TV shows like “Rumpole of the Bailey”, though she also appeared with her daughter Emma in “Much Ado About Nothing” – and more prominently in the 1997 movie “The Winter Guest”. Law once revealed that she spent most of her acting life unemployed, but Thompson has seemingly never struggled for work, starring in films like “Love Actually” and “The Remains of the Day”, and winning an Oscar for her performance in “Howards End”.

#3: Tom Hardy

Hardy’s father, Edward – known professionally as Chips Hardy – is a successful scriptwriter for the small and silver screen, and he actually co-created the BBC series “Taboo” with his son. Both of them wanted to work together on a TV drama, and Edward built the series around a fictional character that Tom considered his dream part. The younger Hardy’s breakthrough role came as Bane in 2012’s “The Dark Knight Rises”, and he has, of course, gone on to become one of Hollywood’s biggest stars with parts ranging from “The Revenant” to “Venom”.

#2: Tom Holland

Funny man Dominic Holland could well be a familiar name to comedy aficionados, as he won the best newcomer award at the 1993 Edinburgh Fringe Festival. But Dominic is the first to admit his career hasn’t been as successful as he’d hoped, and in 2018 he even created a stand-up show entitled “Eclipsed” – which focussed on how his son's career has done exactly that to his own. Having made his Marvel debut in “Captain America: Civil War”, Tom Holland is now an integral part of the MCU, with his portrayal of Spider-Man ranked by many as one of the best ever takes on the comic book character.

#1: Benedict Cumberbatch

Both of Cumberbatch’s parents are actors, yet reportedly they wanted their son to become a barrister. Timothy Carlton and Wanda Ventham have had successful careers on stage and screen, but Cumberbatch is the more renowned performer. According to his father, he’s the more gifted too… with Carlton once telling his son: “You’re better now than I was or ever will be”. Appropriately, Carlton and Ventham have starred as Sherlock Holmes’ parents in the BBC’s “Sherlock”. That show catapulted Cumberbatch’s career into orbit, and he has since earned Oscar buzz for his part in “The Imitation Game”, and also found a home in the MCU.

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