It’s always a fun fact when you find out that two celebrities who you never thought had anything to do with each other are in fact related. And it’s always then fun to imagine what life may be like at home at Christmas when the family gets together.
Also, imagine what things were like when they were growing up? It’s certainly fun to think about!
With that, here are some British comedy and film stars that you didn’t realise were related:
5.Benedict Cumberbatch and Wanda Ventham
Benedict Cumberbatch is all over the place these days, and as an actor with a classically trained background, it’s no surprise that he has made the transition from TV star to Hollywood A-lister (mind you, these days TV seems to be the true king of entertainment).
Coming from an acting family, Cumberbatch first caught the notice of the nation with his now legendary turn in Sherlock, a programme so complex, intelligent and thoughtful that you actually have to stock scrolling through twitter, put your phone down, and pay attention to it. Higher praise can’t be given these days.
His turn in Sherlock afforded Cumberbatch the opportunity to hit the big screens, and he hasn’t looked back since, with roles in huge films such as Star Trek Into Darkness, 12 Years a Slave, Dr Strange, The Hobbit films and as Alan Turing in The Imitation Game, which landed him a nomination for Best Actor at the Oscars.
Cumberbatch is one of the biggest actors in the world with a legion of devoted fans rivalled by few in his field, but one thing you may not know about him, if you watch Only Fools and Horses, is that he is in fact related to the actress who plays Cassandra’s mum, Wanda Ventham. That’s right, Wanda is his dear ol’ mummy!
With both of his parents being actors, they were initially resistant when confronted with the notion of their boy going into such a notoriously fickle and unstable business. Instead, the upper-middle class couple wanted their son to become a barrister.
Benedict explained: “[Acting is] a very odd, peripatetic, crazed, out of your control work and social schedule.
“It’s very hard to plan a family life, yet alone know where the next pay cheque is coming from so they worked very, very hard as my parents, and actors, to afford me an education whereby I had the opportunity and the privilege to try and channel myself towards other goals.
“For a while, I wanted to be a barrister because there’s definitely a crossover with criminal law – with trying to persuade an audience and a jury and a judge of the case and your client’s story so I did go down that root for a little bit. I think they would have been very happy if I ended up there.”
But he will no doubt feel happy with his decision, as he has gone on to become one of the most loved and bankable stars of our time, having gone to Manchester University to study drama to chase his “primary dream” of becoming an actor.
His ambitions became stronger when his dad took him to one side after his performances and gave him some of the most important praise he had ever recieved.
Benedict explained: “Much to dad’s amazing selflessness as a man, and I hope to echo that when my time comes to be a dad, he said to me in a car park after a play I’d done at Manchester University, when I was a student there, he said, ‘You’re better now than I was or ever will be,’ which is a huge thing for a man to say to his son.”
4.Freddie and Toby Jones
The 90-year-old actor has made a name in the film industry through an illustrious career on the big and small screen, including roles in films like The Elephant Man, Zulu Dawn, and The Neverending Story 3.
Over the years, he has also appeared in TV shows such as the original Avengers in 1967, Inspector Morse, Lovejoy and Heartbeat.
Freddie Jones was interviewed by The Radio Times regarding his recent decision to retire, and when asked what has kept him going at Emmerdale for so long, he said: “Actors need to act. Plus, it’s the only thing I can do with any decency and I draw great satisfaction from it. I try to wring all I can from a sentence. It’s rewarding and it depends upon creativity and invention.”
“Undoubtedly…” he said, when asked if it keeps his mind going. “People do seem to stay young in this profession — there’s something rejuvenating about it. I’ve found being in Emmerdale incredible — I’m almost in love with the people here. And that isn’t actors’ hyperbole!”
Well, it’s demanding [keeping pace with the busy soap schedule] when there are last-minute changes to the script. For a long time, I was nervous because one word can throw the rhythm of a line.
“I did introduce a very large vocabulary of Anglo-Saxon to the studio — people were fainting in the gallery! But the hippocampus is like a muscle — if you exercise it, it will work for you. And when you do conquer the difficulties, it brings you great joy.”
And when asked why he decided to leave, Freddie Jones said: “It’s about the balance of my life. The company generously offered me another 12 months. But I just thought, ‘I have no idea what I’m going to do in another bloody year!’ The drama that Ashley’s death [Jones’s screen son, played by John Middleton] gave me last year was monumental.
“But that’s gone now. I travel three hours by car, book into a hotel and then get up the next day to say maybe three sentences. And then do a three-hour journey back. I can’t justify staying, even though Emmerdale was very generous in asking me to.”
“…actors don’t retire — they die. The story goes that Sir John Gielgud, at the age of 96, rang Maggie Smith and said in a deep depression, ‘They’ve forgotten me — they don’t know who I am anymore.’ He apparently added, “I’m seriously thinking about changing my agent.” He then died, so — in some sense — he did.”
Freddie Jones has had an illustrious career – a career on which he is finally calling it a day, but his son will no doubt take the Jones acting family forward, and has arguably carried the family name to places that his veteran father never did.
So, are you finally ready to find out who Freddie Jones’ son is? You’d never guess.
Well, get this – his son is the Hollywood star Toby Jones. Who’d have thunk it!
Toby Jones, in recent years, has become one of the most recognisable faces in Hollywood, and has enjoyed success on the big screen with films such as Captain America, Atomic Blonde, the Harry Potter series as the voice of Dobby, and The Hunger Games.
His career also covers many years as a TV actor, which includes shows like Doctor Who, Detectorists, The Girl and his masterclass of acting as Culverton Smith in Sherlock’s fourth series.
Just as his father’s career is winding down, Toby Jones’ career in the USA is climbing to new heights, as he will appear alongside Bryce Dallas Howard and Chris Pratt in the Jurassic World sequel Fallen Kingdom, which will come out later this year.
3Hugh Grant and Thomas Sangster
As Jez from Peep Show once said about the mid 90s: “Brit pop was kicking off, Four Weddings had just come out, it was amazing…”
And in 1994, Four Weddings and a Funeral introduced the world not only to the leafy green, upper middle-class oh-golly style of so-very-British romantic comedy, it also introduced the world to Hugh Grant – a man who not only became an overnight heartthrob to millions of American women who thought that that’s what all British men are like, but a name that also ended up becoming a noun.
Many romantic comedies followed, such as the charming but ridiculous Notting Hill (oh really, you live in Notting Hill in a three-storied house, but you’re a million miles away from her? You’re doin’ okay, buddy), Sense and Sensibility (naturally), Bridget Jones’ Diary (of course), Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason (yep), and About A Boy (a slight step in a different direction, but only slightly).
We’re beginning to see a pattern here, he’s got somewhat of a proclivity for romcoms.
But all joking aside, Hugh Grant over the years has become not only one of the most recognisable as well as loved actors of the past quarter century, he was also an influential defender of celebrities’ rights in the wake of the phone hacking scandal.
But even the most die-hart of Hugh Grant’s fans may not know this about him – in fact, he didn’t know much about it himself until just ten years ago, which is that a fellow actor happens to be his long-lost cousin.
It was on the set of the Pulp-Fiction-for-girls (shout out to Honest Trailers) Christmas flick Love Actually that Grant, who played the prime minister, was related distantly to the child actor Thomas Sangster, who in the film played the role of Liam Neeson’s character’s son, who rushes through the airport to get the girl – original stuff!
Sangster, whose starred in projects such as Game of Thrones and Maze Runner, revealed to Grant on the set of Love Actually that his great-grandmother and Grant’s grandmother were sisters, which makes them cousins however many times removed.
“His grandmother and my great-grandmother are sisters,” Sangster revealed. “He didn’t know. I said, ‘Apparently, you are my uncle or my cousin or something’. Then he kind of remembered my mum and uncle. So for the rest of the shoot he went round saying: ‘Hello cousin’. That felt quite cool,” he added.
.2.Gary Oldman and Laila Morse
I know right? I couldn’t believe it either!
Fresh of winning the sorry-we-haven’t-given-you-one-already Oscar for admittedly impeccable turn as Winston Churchill in Darkest Hour, the internet went wild when people realised that Gary Oldman, easily one of the top three or four greatest living actors, was the brother of Laila Morse, who played Big Mo in EastEnders.
“If there is a better fact out there than Big Mo being Gary Oldman’s sister I want to hear it,” wrote one stunned fan after Gary Oldman wowed the world with the Best Actor award that he should have won years ago (and that, in all honestly and in my opinion, probably should have gone to Andy Serkis for War of the Planet of the Apes).
“Finding out Big Mo off Eastenders is Gary Oldman’s sister has absolutely blown my head off this morning hahaha,” posted another tickled commenter.
One quipped, “Disgraceful that Gary Oldman did not give special thanks to Big Mo in his speech,” whilst others were simply dubfounded.
“How did I not know Laila Morse aka Big Mo (eastenders) and Gary Oldman are brother and sister?! Wtf,” added another.
Leila, 72, was actually born Maureen Oldman but was given her stage name from actress Isabella Rossellini, who was with her brother at the time.
1.David Mitchell, Alexander Armstrong and Giles Coren
Okay, so this one may be somewhat of a tenuous link, but if you count in-laws, then this one definitely counts! Since 2012, Peep Show star David Mitchell has been married to Victoria Coren. Aside from being a world-class poker player, Victoria Coren (who is now Coren Mitchell) one thing that may surprise you is that the current Mrs. David Mitchell is the sister of columnist and food critic Giles Coren.
Giles, meanwhile, is married to the food writer Esther Walker, whose sister Hannah Bronwen Snow is married to the Pointless star Alexander Armstrong.
So what does that mean? Well, to some degree or another, that means that the boys are all brothers-in-law.