will explore the family connections of actors...
~ husbands and wives who are in the business
~ the dynasties of family actors that rule supreme
~ relatives who pop up in period dramas

And so I begin with 3 families who have surely been viewed by fans of period dramas,
if you've seen just a few films from this genre.
Not only are these actors related but most of them can be connected to one another
since many of them are considered to be "la creme de la creme"...

I did a Six Degrees of Separation for the actors on this page...

Edward, Joanna, Emilia, James, Laurence, Robert and their spouses...

read more about the Redgraves
Vanessa, Corin, Lynn, Joely, Natasha, Jemma...

read more about the Thompsons
Emma, Sophie, mom Phyllida, and spouses...

James McAvoy & Anne-Marie Duff
I was surprised to find out that they got married in 2006.
They became parents to a baby boy in 2010.

Anne-Marie acted in these period dramas:
The Virgin Queen (2005), Doctor Zhivago (2002)
The Way We Live Now (2001), Aristocrats (1999)

James acted in:
Atonement(2007), Becoming Jane(2007),
The Last Station (2009) and The Conspirator (2010)

Judi Dench and Finty Williams
Judi Dench has acted with her daughter Finty Williams in the following 4 films:
~ Cranford where Finty played Clara Smith,
~ Mrs. Brown (she played the daughter Princess Helena to Judi's Queen Victoria)
~ Importance of Being Earnest (she played the younger version of Judi's character)
~ both acted in Ladies in Lavender

Maggie Smith and Toby Stephens
I was surprised to find out that Maggie Smith is the mother of Toby Stephens and Chris Larkin.
Dame Maggie has been seen in many films and appears in my Hall of Fame and appeared with son Chris in Tea with Mussolini

Toby recently was noted for his role as the brooding Mr.Rochester in Jane Eyre.
Chris (shown with Toby on left) also appeared in Jane Eyre (1996) as Frederick Lynn.

Timothy West, Prunella Scales and Samuel West
(top left) Timothy West as Sir Dedlock in Bleak House
(top right) West with his wife Prunella Scales (known for her role in Fawlty Towers)
(bottom left) Prunella as Miss Bates in Emma (with Kate Beckinsale) shown with Phylidda Law, mentioned above in the Thompson family.
(bottom right) Timothy is the father of Samuel West (Mr. Elliot in Persuasion)
and they played the same character in Iris.
Samuel also acted with his mother Prunella Scales in Howard's End.

Jeremy Irons and Sinead Cusack
(Left) Jeremy Irons, John Malkovich & Gerard Depardieu in The Man with the Iron Mask. He was also in The Mission, Merchant of Venice, Elizabeth I and Kingdom of Heaven
(Middle) Sinead Cusack & Jeremy Irons (married since 1978)
(Right) Sinead shown as Mrs. Thornton in North and South.
She also appeared in A Room with a View and I Capture the Castle
Their son Max Irons is also an actor.

Blythe Danner and Gwyneth Paltrow
Blythe Danner and her daughter Gwyneth Paltrow both acted in Sylvia.
Blythe portrayed Martha Jefferson in Thomas Jefferson
Gwyneth was in Emma and Shakespeare in Love

Katharine Hepburn and Schuyler Grant
As a fan of Anne of Green Gables, I was surprised to find out that Anne's bosom friend Diana Barry played by Schuyler Grant, is the great niece of Katharine Hepburn.
I didn't recognize Diana grown up as shown on All My Children (pic on right).

Meryl Streep and Mamie Gummer

Meryl Streep and her daughter Mamie Gummer played the same character in Evening.
On left, Mamie in a scene with Claire Danes

Damian Lewis & Helen McCrory
(married in 2007)
Shown: Damian in The Forsyte Saga
Helen in Count of Monte Cristo and Becoming Jane
Sidenote: Damian used to date Katie Razzall, a news reporter who married Damian's good friend Oliver Milburn (who costarred with him in Forsyte Saga)
more pics of Damian

Diana Rigg and Rachael Stirling
Diana Rigg, veteran actress, is the mother of Rachael Stirling.
They played the same character of Rebeccah in the film
In the Beginning and the same character in a stage play of Theatre of Blood.
Diana played Honoria Dedlock in Bleak House,
Rachael will soon be seen in The Young Victoria.

Gena Rowlands was directed by her son Nick Cassavetes in The Notebook.

Michelle Gomez and Jack Davenport
Watching Oliver Twist (2007), I was amused by Michelle Gomez' portrayal of the dour Mrs. Sowerberry. She's pictured with John Sessions as Mr. Sowerberry
[Although some have been known to disagree with me on just how much
Mrs Thornton (N&S) mumbles, Mrs Sowerberry does give Mrs T a run for her money ]
I loved seeing familiar faces in this version of Oliver Twist:
Anna Massey, Edward Fox, Timothy Spall and Morven Christie & Ruby Bentall
(Jane and Mary Bennett in Lost in Austen)
I was surprised to find out that she's married to Jack Davenport
(Norrington in Pirates of the Caribbean, Mary Bryant, The Wyvern Mystery)

James Murray and Sarah Parish
Another acting couple that I haven't mentioned yet!
Sarah Parish who will be seen in the upcoming Pillars of the Earth
is married to James Murray (Under the Greenwood Tree)

Dominic West and Martha West
Martha West, who has been getting noticed for her portrayal of Annie Darwin
in the movie Creation is the daughter of Dominic West.
Martha is seen here with her dad Dominic and her mom Polly Astor.

Janine Duvitski is the mother of Ruby Bentall.
Her father Paul Bentall, is an actor as well.
(Left) Janine played Mrs. Meagles in "Little Dorrit" as well as acting in "Vanity Fair",
"the Young Visiters" (as Queen Victoria) and "Angel".
(Right) Ruby (in centre) took on the role of Mary Bennett in "Lost in Austen"
and she can also be seen in "Lark Rise to Candleford" as Minnie.

The Fiennes Brothers
Joseph Fiennes and his wife Maria Dolores Dieguez have just announced they're expecting! Joseph is the brother of Ralph Fiennes and is known for his role in Shakespeare in Love and is listed as being in production for Vivaldi. His nephew, Hero Fiennes-Tiffin is also an actor, appearing in Harry Potter.
Interesting trivia from IMDb:
Both brothers, Joseph and Ralph have romanced the same leading lady, Cate Blanchett, in different films; Joseph in Elizabeth (1998) and Ralph in Oscar and Lucinda (1997).

Just found out that Pauline Collins (Bleak House)
is married to actor John Alderton (Mr. Casby in Little Dorrit)

John and Pauline played Thomas and Sarah
in 'Upstairs, Downstairs', and its spin-off 'Thomas and Sarah'

Veteran actress Imelda Staunton is married to actor Jim Carter.
They've acted together in Cranford:
He's Capt. Brown and she is the one-and-only Miss Pole with the feather in her cap!

Andrew Buchan and Amy Nuttall 
married in September 2012
(Andrew has been in: Garrow's Law, Cranford, The Nativity, Jane Eyre, The Sinking of the Laconia and Amy is currently in Downton Abbey)

Naomi Watts and Liev Schreiber, shown on left in The Painted Veil
are a couple with two children: Samuel and Alexander

Peter Sarsgaard and Maggie Gylennhall
Maggie shown in 'Mona Lisa Smile' and Peter in 'An Education'
They married in 2009 and have a daughter Ramona.

Matthew Macfadyen and Keeley Hawes
Can't believe I hadn't added this lovely couple before now!
They married in 2004 and are parents to Myles, Maggie and Ralph.
Keeley in 'Wives and Daughters', 'Our Mutual Friend' and 'Under the Greenwood Tree'
Matthew in 'Little Dorrit' and 'Pride and Prejudice'

Blake Ritson & Hattie Morahan
Blake (Mansfield Park, Emma) and Hattie (Sense & Sensibility) met in university
and have collaborated on short films together. They're engaged to be married.

Ioan Gruffudd and Alice Evans
Ioan (Horatio Hornblower, Secret of Moonacre, Amazing Grace, King Arthur, Forsyte Saga)
married Alice (The Abduction Club) in 2007 and they have a daughter Ella.

Colin Firth and his brother Jonathan have appeared in a number of period dramas!

Colin's films include:
Pride & Prejudice, Importance of Being Earnest, Girl with a Pearl Earring, Easy Virtue

Month in the Country, 'Shakespeare' in Blackadder, Shakespeare in Love, Circle of Friends

See more of Colin's films here

Victoria & Albert, Pompeii, Romeo & Juliet, Middlemarch, Luther

Jonathan Firth's period dramas: Victoria & Albert, Middlemarch, Albert Schweitzer, An Ideal Husband, Pompeii: The Last Day, Luther, Inspector Lynley, Far From the Madding Crowd, Agatha's Christie Poirot, Covington Cross, Wuthering Heights, The Black Velvet Gown, and Romeo and Juliet (I didn't realize that he was Romeo to Geraldine Somerville's Juliet)

* * * * * * * * *
Honeysuckle Weeks is well known for her role in Foyle's War, and her sister Perdita and brother Rollo also have their share of film credits in period dramas.

Honeysuckle's period dramas: Foyle's War, Inspector Lynley Mysteries, Agatha Christie's Poirot, Lorna Doone, and Rag Nymph
Foyle's War with Michael Kitchen, The Rag Nymph with Crispin Bonham-Carter

Honeysuckle as Eliza Doolittle in play with Rupert Everett as Higgins

Perdita as young Millie, Honeysuckle as older Millie in Rag Nymph

Perdita's period dramas: The Promise, Lost in Austen, The Tudors, Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Silk Stocking, The Prince and the Pauper, Rag Nymph, and Hamlet.

Perdita in: Lost in Austen, The Tudors

Rollo's period dramas: Blood in the Water, Cheri, The Thief Lord, The Queen of Sheba's Pearls, George and the Dragon, Girl with a Pearl Earring, The Lost Prince, Attila, and Berkeley Square

Rollo in: The Queen of Sheba's Pearls, The Lost Prince

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Bryan Brown and Rachel Ward met while filming The Thorn Birds and have been married since 1983. Rachel's credits include: Love on the Land, Wide Sargasso Sea, Johnson County War, Christopher Columbus: The Discovery, Pirates: The True Story of Blackbeard (as well as being known for her role in Against All Odds). Bryan's credits include: Australia, Dean Spanley, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Against the Wind and he has co-starred along with Rachel in The Good Wife as well as The Thorn Birds.


  1. Great new revelations !
    Did not know that Sinead Cusac was married to Jeremy Irons for instance ; )

  2. I just spotted this posting while browsing at your blog, and was astonished to see the resemblance between Katharine Hepburn and her great niece - quite uncanny! A fascinating posting. Judy

  3. Elva, I love finding out unsuspected connections! Like Sinead & Jeremy! My first thought was What? Mrs. Thornton is married to the priest from "The Mission"?!

    And I didn't really notice the similarities with Hepburn and her niece till you mentioned it Judy!

  4. Elva,

    I really do love to know about the relatives.

  5. How about Jennifer Ehle? Her mother is Rosmary Harris (famous for Spiderman among others) They were both in the film: Sunshine with Ralph Fiennes.

    I know of a few others but don't want to hog up the entire post. :-)

  6. Teresa, I did mention Jennifer and her mom on another post but thanks for reminding me to add her on here! Which other ones were you thinking of? :)

  7. I don't know if you have mentioned any of the following before:

    Well, right off the top of my head: the Harker sisters. Susannah (Jane Bennet in P&P) and Caroline (Mrs. Fitzhurbert (in The Madness of King George). Caroline is also married to Anthony Calf (who has made a gazillion period films: Colonel Fitzwilliam w/ his sister-in-law, in P&P, Our Mutual Friend, The Mayor of Casterbridge, Lorna Doone, etc.)

    And then there are the brothers MacCann (4 all together, all actors) but I'm more familiar with the work of Paul (Mr. Bush in Hornblower) and Mark (Tom in Shackleton)

    And, on the American side of the water, there's Will Smith, who has made three period films to my knowledge, who is, of course, married to Jada Pinkett-Smith, along with his two children who are now actors as well.

    Tom Cruise... even though he is no longer married to Nicole Kidman, (they were in that Oklahoma land rush film, the name escapes me at the moment) and their son, Conner, is starting to act in a few films (one with Will Smith). But Katie Holmes will be in that Kennedy film that is coming out pretty soon.

    Those are the only ones that come to mind. If I remember any others I'll let you know.

    1. There is also the Troughtons... Patrick, probably best know as the second instalment of the Doctor in Doctor Who (though not necessarily a "period" part, as such, but kinda), he was also in: (among others) Hamlet (1948), Inspector Morse, Edward and Mrs. Simpson (tv-series), his son; David has performed with the Royal Shakespeare Company, is a popular narrator of audio books, and has performed with the National Theatre.. HIS son, Sam was in the BBC series Robin Hood, and also in period drama Vera Drake, Sylvia and Foyle's War. :)

  8. Thanks for getting back to me Teresa! I usually add those that have had a number of period dramas behind them so I ouldn't post Will and Jada since she's not been in any. I didn't know that Paul McCann had brothers or that Jane Harker had a sister in the business! I definitely knew about Tom and Nicole being in Far and Away! Guess it would have been nice to post about them while they were still together but we all know about Emma Thompson and Kenneth Branagh. I also just found out about 2 familiar faces in period drama that are dating but biting my tongue to mention them since they seem to want it kept quiet for the time being. Thanks for mentioning, I'll update soon!

  9. Love this sort of stuff and loving the whole site! It came to mind -since I'm in a total Downton Abbey mood- that Penelope Wilton was once married to actor Daniel Massey (son of the great Raymond, brother of Anna, who's done more period stuff than I can think of) and also married once to the wonderful Ian Holm and I think most of his children are also actors.

  10. jbirdsoars,
    thanks for those connections! I've not had time to update this page but will try to get to it in future!

  11. whoa ! i can't believe so many ppl in the british entertaiment are linked , i knew that lots of them were married or sibliges , but now i see there are many more!
    thanks a lot for this article

  12. Thanks so much I really enjoyed this post.
    I had no idea that so many great people were related!!

  13. Wasn't Gwyneth also in Jefferson in Paris (as his daughter)? Another coincidence with her mom, Blythe

  14. colin firth was married to his co-star in Valmont, Meg Tilly, although they are now divorced.

  15. I knew a lot of these but not all. Jim Carter and Imelda Staunton. wow!



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