8 Actors Discuss the Supportive Influence of Their Fathers

June 17, 2018

Dads come in all shapes and sizes, and the love, support, and vision for their children are ineffable. In the spirit of Father’s Day, here are some actors who’ve expressed some of the valuable lessons they’ve learned–and cherished gifts they’ve received–from their dads.

Jeff Bridges

It’s not a coincidence that the two brothers Jeff and Beau Bridges became celebrated actors. After all, their father, Lloyd Bridges–who acted in over 150 feature films, one of which was the classic spoof disaster movie Airplane!–actively encouraged his children to get into show business. He likewise taught them acting fundamentals; but most of all, he passed along an undeniable joy for the work of an actor. Jeff said of his dad, “My father was my teacher. But most importantly, he was a great dad.”

Ashton Kutcher

Ashton Kutcher’s father was a factory worker; he and his wife certainly had challenges raising their three children especially with Ashton’s beloved twin brother, Michael, needing an emergency heart transplant as a teenager and being diagnosed with cerebral palsy. Ashton said of his parents, “My parents couldn’t give me a whole lot of financial support, but they gave me good genes. My dad is a handsome son-of-a-gun, and my mom is beautiful. And I’ve definitely been the lucky recipient. So, thank you, Mom and Dad.” Ashton’s career in the spotlight started when he was plucked by a model scout which lead to his opportunity to model for Calvin Klein. It wasn’t long before Ashton moved to Los Angeles where he was cast in That ‘70s Show.

Saoirse Ronan

Saoirse Ronan’s dad, Paul Ronan, worked in construction and tended bars before he moved to New York to work as an actor. He insists he saw something special in his daughter at an early age and believed she’d make a great actress. In turn, Paul volunteered his seven-year-old daughter to play the part of a child who gets hit by a car in a film for which he was cast. Saoirse’s career picked up momentum quickly. The Lady Bird actress said, “I’ve always been quite mature because of the way my parents brought me up. They were very good at talking to me like a person rather than a baby. And I was around so many actors and directors from such a young age because my dad is an actor.”

James Earl Jones

James Earl Jones’ father left his mother just after he was born. James would only get to know his dad after serving in the Army. In fact, for practical reasons, James moved in with his father in New York while he was figuring out what next to do with his life. His dad, Robert Earl Jones, was a boxer-turned actor. In turn, James started to study drama. Robert told his son, “I can’t make a living [acting], so if you want to enter this world, do it because you love it.” James says, “That was good advice.” Later on, Robert saw his son perform, and told him, “You can act.” “Father to son, that’s all I needed to hear,” The Great White Hope star told The Guardian.

Michael Douglas

Michael Douglas once recalled, “I thought I could never be the actor Dad was, so I avoided it for a while.” Indeed, his father was the legendary Kirk Douglas. Kirk, likewise, didn’t want his son, Michael, to become an actor. In fact, the first time Kirk saw Michael perform, he told his son, “Michael, you were absolutely terrible.” The elder Douglas was certain Michael would never become an actor. But Michael didn’t give up. Instead, he honed his craft, and in a later performance, was rewarded with his father’s choice words: “Not bad.”

Neil Patrick Harris

Neil Patrick Harris once gushed to Bravo! about his father: “[Dad] is just a really wonderful, right, regular, true man. And so I was very lucky to have him as a dad. He didn’t steer me towards anything. When I wanted to play the xylophone in the band, he didn’t say anything like, ‘No, you should be playing the trumpet.’ Or, ‘You should be playing the football.’ He let me follow what was my passion.”

Eva Longoria

Desperate Housewives actress Eva Longoria talked about the value of persistence that her mom and dad, Enrique Longoria, Jr., infused into their children. “I was born in Corpus Christi, Texas–the youngest of four girls, including my oldest sister, Lisa, who had special needs. My mom was a special education teacher, and my dad worked on the Army base. We weren’t wealthy, but we were determined to succeed.” Her persistence would later lead her to enter a talent contest which then led her to Los Angeles where she got signed by a theatrical agent.

Sam Rockwell

On Jimmy Kimmel Live!, the Three Billboards in Ebbing, Missouri star Sam Rockwell gave us a glimpse of the support he feels from his father. In a New York Times essay in which the author questioned both the enthusiasm for Three Billboards as well as its meaning, Rockwell’s dad apparently decided to make his opinions known. In the comment section, “Pete Rockwell” wrote: “I loved the movie and intend to see it again. My son, Sam, won a Golden Globe for playing Jason Dixon. I think I would still love the movie if another actor had played Dixon … But not quite as much.” 

How Supportive Is Your Dad of Your Acting Career?

June 21, 2015

Adam DeVine is a comedian, actor, voice actor, singer, writer, and producer. He both created and starred in the Comedy Central series Workaholics, and Adam DeVine’s House Party. You may recognize him as Bumper Allen in the Pitch Perfect musical films or as the voice of Pizza Steve in Cartoon Central’s Uncle Grandpa. He’s a talented go getter that would make pretty much any dad very proud–that is, except his own! His manly-man father struggles to accept the fact that his son’s career requires him to wear makeup.

Although there are certainly many dads out there who are passionate supporters of their sons’ and daughters’ acting careers, there are likewise countless fathers who discourage the theater arts with their notoriously unpredictable and unstable work conditions; instead, many dads prefer their children chose a career in something seemingly more stable. You know, jobs like writing contracts, accounting, engineering, maybe taking over the family business. But the thought of these kinds of jobs is enough to make many actors dance on the street with a tin cup!

Some Hollywood dads have been strong supporters of their children’s decision to pursue acting. Take, for example, Martin Sheen who bolstered the careers of his sons Emilio Estevez and Charlie Sheen; Kirk Douglas supporting Michael Douglas; Will Smith encouraging Jaden and Willow Smith; Donald Sutherland supporting Kiefer Sutherland. And director-producer Bruce Paltrow found a way to cast his daughter, Gwyneth, in her acting debut in a TV film he directed. But it doesn’t take a dad in the entertainment industry to support his son or daughter’s acting career. How supportive has your father been of your choice to pursue acting? Please share!

Watch below to see a dad who’s head-over-heals supportive of his son’s singing career.

Happy Father’s Day from Casting Frontier!