20 Actors With Insane Family Secrets

Secrets are often times touchy subject. Some people keep their own private facts hidden for their whole lives, never revealing them to anyone, while others are open or at least become more willing to share them as they get older. Considering the revelations are sometimes embarrassing or reputation shattering, one cannot be blamed for wanting to keep these secrets from the public eye. Unfortunately for them, celebrities rarely have the luxury of choice when it comes to deciding whether or not to divulge these personal stories.

A whole other subsection of secrets would be those that involve family members. Many times these do not even involve the celebrity, but they are still tidbits that someone would be less than enthusiastic to share for a variety of reasons. On this list there will be secrets that are somewhat painful memories that no one would want to relive or continuously retell. On the other hand, there are others that don’t appear so dark as they are bizarre.

Maybe some readers will wonder why certain celebrities chose to keep hush about some of these secrets, but it is important to respect that it is always the person’s choice whether they wish to speak of it or not.

Here’s 20 Celebrities With Insane Family Secrets.


Sofia Vergara has had a long, successful career. It all started when she was discovered by a photographer while walking on a beach in her native country of Colombia. Since then, the knockout actress has proven that her beauty is only a small section of her talents, with a leading part on the long running sitcom Modern Family in addition to several other high profile acting roles. Unfortunately, some of her close family still struggles with their own demons.

Sofia has a younger brother named Julio who has lived with addiction for many years, resulting in many run ins with the law.

In 2011, this ultimately resulted in Julio being deported back to Colombia. When speaking about her younger sibling Vergara said “To see somebody [passing] over 10 years, little by little, that’s the worst punishment. Now he’s like another person.” It’s sad to hear this, but it should serve as a reminder to everyone that fame and celebrity does not automatically make one’s life rosy.

This is not the first familial tragedy that Sofia has lived through. Her older brother met his tragic end in 1989 after a botched kidnapping attempt. As unfortunate as it is to hear these tales about her family, it is good to see that she has managed to make something special from her life and find her own success.


Arnold Schwarzenegger’s career path is unlike any other actor. Even before becoming a movie star, the Austrian muscle man gained recognition by becoming the youngest winner of Mr. Universe. Most readers will be familiar with his illustrious filmography filled to the brim with iconic action roles like The Terminator, The Predator, and Conan the Barbarian. Arnold has only recently made his return to the big screen after serving as California’s governor from 2003 to 2011.

The actor famously did not attend his father’s funeral in the seventies, while the stories vary as to why he did not attend the service, we would not attend our parent’s funeral either if they were once a member of the wrong party in WWII. Gustav Schwarzeneggerserved in the the Austrian army after the country was annexed by Germany in 1938 for several years, before being discharged due to severe malaria. Recent research undertaken into Gustav’s military career does not show that he directly participated in any human rights abuses, but it does not ignore the fact that he was a part of an objectively evil empire.

Arnold seems to have no love for his father, who was reportedly abusive during the actor’s youth. Additionally, Gustav even repeatedly denied that Arnold was his biological son.


In addition to her voice being stuck in countless people’s heads for many months after a dropping a catchy single, Rihanna has also appeared in several films of varying degrees of quality. She started her film career off on shaky ground with 2012’s Battleship, but has steadily participated in better projects since then. The most promising being the upcoming heist comedy Ocean’s 8. The Barbados born singer has had her personal life thrust into the spotlight on several occasions, but there is one thing that some people still may not know. Her father is somewhat of a womanizer and all around kind of a wild guy.

Throughout her childhood, her father had struggles with addiction. This resulted in the deterioration of her parents marriage. Additionally, her father’s philandering ways gave Rihanna several half siblings from different women. Though these actions would understandably put a strain on a relationship, it appears that Rihanna and her father do get along great these days.

A couple of years ago the singer bought a mansion on Barbados worth more than one million dollars just for him. She also paid for her father to receive top quality medical treatment for an injury sustained in a severe car accident.


Oprah needs no introduction, as the mere mention of her name is like the clouds parting to make way for the hand of god. The media empire she has amassed is unprecedented, built upon her lovable, relatable, and welcoming personality. As divine a presence she may be these days, the most inspiring part of her life the fact she rose from humble beginnings.

Winfrey was born in Mississippi to a single teenage mother and grew up in extreme poverty. During her childhood, the cost of raising Oprah became too much for her mother to handle so she was sent to live with her biological father (or at least one of the men who is likely to be her father). During this time her mother, Vernita, gave birth to two more children, one of which was given up for adoption. The real kicker here is that Oprah only found out about the sister, named Patricia, in 2010.

While a gut reaction to this news may be to cast harsh judgement on Oprah’s mother, it is important to remember that it is impossible to know what it is like unless you have been in her position. For those who have been, we think you understand the brevity of her decision.


Nicolas Cage is a like a child with an M16 at a shooting range. The recoil is bound to send bullets flying everywhere, but at least one of them is bound to hit the target. Cage’s performances are so ridiculously varied in terms of style and quality that it leaves one wondering just how he chooses his roles. There are the acclaimed performances in Adaptation, Wild at Heart, and Kick-Ass. The awesome action thrill rides of Con-Air, Face/Off, and The Rock. Then there are the hammy overacting in numerous films, that have more in common with dumpster fires than actual movies. Despite this reputation, there is one secret some people may not know about the actor – he is a Coppola.

Yes, Cage’s birth name is Nicolas Kim Coppola and his uncle is famed director Francis Ford Coppola.

The name change resulted from his wish not cash in on the fame associated with the Coppola name in Hollywood, though the actor did end up appearing in several Francis’s films. It is quite believable when thinking about it for a few seconds, as both talents are just as eccentric as the other. The principal difference is that Francis Ford Coppola’s odd ideas gave the world masterpieces like The Godfather and Apocalypse Now, while Cage gifts audiences with wild overacting and melodrama.


It’s hard to imagine what it must have been like for Cheers fans to first watch Natural Born Killersback in 1998. The lovable and rarely intelligentWoody Boyd all of a sudden became the psychopathic criminal Mickey Knox, wreaking havoc throughout the country in the wildly entertaining and poignant Oliver Stone directed film. The juxtaposition of these two roles is a perfect example of Harrelson’s incredibly versatile range. The Mickey Knox role is a little coincidental because the actor’s father was actually paid to eliminate people.

Charles Harrelson wasn’t a nobody either, as his name will forever go down in infamy as committing the first assassination of a federal judge in the twentieth century. This specific crime is the one that eventually got him caught and convicted, though we’d assume he had other crimes along the way. Woody did eventually reconnect with his father and is said to have regularly visited him in prison. Charles Harrelson passed away in prison in 2009 at the age of sixty seven.

It is a bizarre revelation to discover that your father is not only a criminal, but a notorious one. For Woody’s sake, we hope the apple fell very far from the tree.


Helen of Troy may have the face that launched a thousand ships, but Jack Nicholson is the actor that launched a thousand impressions. His distinct style makes him instantly recognizable. However, he still manages to get lost in the roles themselves and convince the audience that they are not watching Nicholson, but the character. This trait is rare among actors and is the principle reason why he is a living legend. That superb acting talent may have been inherited from his family, as they managed to make Nicholson believe that his grandmother was his birth mother and that his true biological mother was his older sister.

Nicholson’s mother, June Frances, gave birth out of wedlock at only eighteen years old. Because of the stigma that surrounded this back in 1937, she decided to pretend to be his sister while her mother and father would act as Nicholson’s parents. The charade was kept up well into the actor’s adulthood and he only discovered the truth from researchers at Time Magazine in 1974. Fortunately, Jack was said to not be overly traumatized by the revelation.

It is understandable why his mother did what she did to avoid the negativity that would have followed both her and her son throughout his childhood.


Nowadays, Robert Downey Jr. is one of the biggest stars in the movie industry, thanks to his iconic portrayal of the legendary comic book superhero Iron Man. However, the actor was not always the box office draw that he is today. This is largely due to his severe lifelong addiction that took a toll on his career, gave him legal troubles, and even landed him a short stint in jail. The addiction was so hard to break for the actor, because he was introduced to illegal substances at an incredibly young age by his own father. The Iron Man actor has said that illegal substances were the way he and his father bonded.

Robert Downey Sr. is also an actor and filmmaker, and had his own struggles with addiction even during his son’s childhood. As a result, it was his father that led the actor down his self-destructive path all starting when RDJ was just eight years old. His father has come to regret his decision and thankfully both actors are now clean and sober.

Addiction is a disease and not a choice, but the battle to defeat it is made all the more difficult when your experience begins when you’re young.


Charlize Theron prosperous career started nearly twenty five years ago and has only kept growing since, except for a couple of self imposed hiatuses here and there. Her most notable roles in Monster, Mad Max: Fury Road, and Atomic Blond defied typical gender stereotypes in film. The South African actress grew up on a farm, where one of the darkest events involving her immediate family took place. Her mother was forced to take the life of her husband, Charlize’s father, in self defense.

Charles Jacobus Theron was an alcoholic who, one night, attacked Charlize’s mother, Gerda Theron, so she defended herself with force. The act was ruled justifiable and no charges were made against the actress’s mother. On the rare occasion, Charlize has talked about the incident. She said that the moment itself was not as terrifying as growing up with an alcoholic father. The actress continuously praises the strength of her mother for living through such a difficult experience.

As tragic of an event this is to live through, the obvious silver lining is that Charlize Theron is now one of the most unique and recognizable talents in film today. Let’s hope her career doesn’t let up anytime soon.


Besides having a difficult last name to pronounce, Peter Serafinowicz is notable for his various comedic roles and for being the voice of Darth Maul in The Phantom Menace. His grandfather, Szymon, settled in Britain after World War II and lived there until he passed in 1997. Besides having an even more complex name than his grandson, he also differs from his heir because he was tried for war crimes.

The crimes in question are for three specific passings and for participating in the holocaust in Belarus. For those who may not be familiar, Belarus itself lost anywhere between one fourth and a third of its entire population during World War II (Come and See is recommended viewing). Szymon was, ultimately, never held accountable, because he was said to be suffering from dementia by the end of his life and deemed unfit to stand trial.

In 2007, Peter attempted to block the press from publishing details regarding his grandfather, but ultimately did not go through with it. It’s definitely a hard truth to live with, that evidence points to your grandparent being a war criminal. However, it is not a reflection of Peter because, after all, we don’t get to choose our relatives.


Kevin Spacey’s own secrets and transgressions have been well documented, but this list is focusing on the celebrity’s family. Spacey was well renowned before his fall from grace, though it was less of a fall and more of a plummet akin to accidentally using a jet pack upside down. His left leaning views were well documented, which makes it all the more surprising that his father was a vehement white supremacist.

Spacey’s father, Thomas Geoffrey Fowler, was reportedly vocal about these terrible views to his family and community.

Spacey has not spoken much about his father, but his siblings have been open about the traumatic childhood describing Thomas as an evil monster. In interviews Spacey’s brother, Randy Fowler, details countless years of abuse and hate-filled lectures. The abuse eventually reached a point where Randy almost took out his father with his own pistol, but Thomas Fowler never opened the door to the closet that Randy was waiting in.

Reading the details of Spacey and his siblings’ childhood is truly unsettling. Of course what the actor has done in his adult life is also reprehensible, but nobody deserves to grow up in the type of home he was raised in.


Richard Pryor is one of the funniest, most influential comedians to ever walk this earth. His “no holds barred” style of stand up opened the gates for later comedians to tackle difficult subject matter through the art of comedy. It was no secret that his personal life was turbulent, as he struggled with addiction and ended up being married seven times. In the late fifties, he spent time in an army prison after severely beating a fellow soldier, who laughed too hard at the racial scenes in Imitation of Life. This hot temper and attitude becomes understandable once you learn that all of Pryor’s immediate family were criminals.

Pryor’s mother, Gertrude, was a woman of the night who worked in a company that was run by his grandmother, Marie. He grew up in all of that and was primarily raised by Marie after Gertrude abandoned Pryor when he was only ten years old. Marie was reportedly very physical, often lashing out at Pryor for any variety of reasons. The comedian’s father, LeRoy, was a boxer and a hustler. Hustling technically is not a crime, but it’s also not the most honest or glamorous way to make a living either.

Pryor turned this painful childhood into comedic gold, but it’s still a lot of baggage to live with


Woody Allen’s reputation has seen better days, but it is entirely at the fault of Allen’s transgressions that his name has been blighted. He started a relationship with Mia Farrow’s adopted daughter, while still romantically linked with Farrow. He has been accused of engaging in inappropriate acts by his own adopted daughter, Dylan Farrow. With this in mind it is obvious to see why his son, Ronan Farrow, has a strained relationship with Allen. What’s more is that Ronan’s biological father might actually be the legendary singer Frank Sinatra. Where is Maury: Celebrity Edition when you really need it?

No known DNA tests have been done and Farrow, despite their troubled relationship, still acknowledges Woody Allen as his father.

In the 1960s, Mia Farrow was married to the legendary singer. The marriage was short lived, but the two remained close until Sinatra died in 1998. Farrow is the one who brought up the possibility that her son, Ronan, is actually Frank Sinatra’s heir. On one hand, it could be groundless speculation from a rationally scorned ex, but there may be truth to what she says if she did indeed engage in a tryst with the singer during the mid 1980s.


Few actors have compromised their health and safety for the sake of film to the degree, or frequency, that Jackie Chan has. His martial arts skills put him up there with all of the greats, while his stunts and physical gags recall the silent film era comedians like Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton. Some of his stunts have actually been direct homages to the latter. Chan has sustained several permanent injuries from his daredevil feats, but we’re glad he is still with us to this day. His attitude towards risk-taking may be attributed the fact that his father was a spy and his mother was a substance dealer.

In his young adulthood, Charles Chan was a secret agent for the nationalist guard and fled to Hong Kong after Mao Zedong took power in 1949. Jackie Chan’s mother, Lee-Lee Chan, resorted to illegal substance dealing to get herself out of extreme poverty. Lee-Lee had already been forced to abandon her first two children, when she fled to Shag Hai after her hometown of Wuhan was invaded by the Japanese.

The two actually first met when Charles busted Lee-Lee for possessing substances, but let her go after taking pity on her. How’s that for a cute meet!


With the plethora of quality superhero films that have popped up in the last ten years or so, it is difficult to imagine a time when Tobey Maguire’s Spider-Man was one of the few that was not utterly abysmal. X-Men may have opened the door on the possibilities for quality comic book films, but Spider-Man blew that door right off the hinges. Tobey’s portrayal of the character played no small part in making that happen. Now a certified a success, Maguire’s childhood was not a financially stable one. In fact, in a desperate attempt to get some quick cash his father robbed a bank.

We’ve all made rash decisions, when we were desperate and not thinking straight.

When Maguire was young, his family adopted several of his cousins after his aunt’s untimely passing. This put a huge financial strain on the entire household, which led to his father making the rash decision of robbing a bank. The robbery failed and Maguire’s father ended spending some time in prison, but it was only his first offense so the sentencing was lenient.

Sometimes the consequences are light and sometimes they end up putting you in jail for a spell.


To readers, Liv Tyler may be most recognizable as Bruce Banner’s constantly whispering love interest, Betty Ross, in 2008’s The Incredible Hulk. She has also appeared in notable films such as Armageddon, Empire Records, and The Lord of the Rings trilogy. These days most people are aware that Liv is the daughter of Steven Tyler, the energetic front man for Aerosmith. However, there was a time when Liv Tyler did not even know this.

Liv Tyler was originally born as Liv Rundgren, believing that famous musician and producer Todd Rundren was her father. However, a chance encounter as an eight years old with Steven Tyler revealed her true parentage. During the meeting, Steven Tyler pointed out eerie similarities between his own daughter and Liv, which led to her mother, Bebe, confessing the secret. Bebe hid the truth because of Steven Tyler’s serious addiction during their brief relationship.

Liv eventually changed her last name to Tyler, but kept Rundgren as a middle name because she still considers him an important father figure. Few people can say they have a rock star for a father, but to say they have two rock star daddies is almost unheard of. Tyler’s case is certainly a unique one.


Joaquin Phoenix is picky with his projects, but he always knows which films to choose. The last name Phoenix is not his birth name, but it also is not a name he chose for the stage like many actors do. To learn why his name is Phoenix, one first has to learn about his past. The most important thing to note is that he was born into a cult with the name Joaquin Rafael Bottom. The cult in question was The Children of God, founded by David Brandt Berg.

By the time Joaquin was born, The Children of God had over one hundred thirty communities all over the globe, with the actor being born in one of the Puerto Rican communes. When Phoenix was around four years old, his parents grew disillusioned with the religious movement and returned to the United States. The name change was meant to signify a new start to life, not unlike the mythical Phoenix bird that rises from its own ashes.

If given the chance to decide our own last names, we’re certain we would also pick something as cool as Phoenix. It worked out for the actor too because it certainly is a memorable name.


Rose McGowan has sometimes been a controversial figure in Hollywood due to her willingness to always say what is on her mind. She helped kick start the Me Too movement and was one of the first people to come forward with their story about Harvey Weinstein’s assault. This resilience dates all the way back to her teens, which she often spent running away from home. Ultimately, she decided to emancipate herself at fifteen years old. Prior to that, she was born into the same Children of God cult that Joaquin Phoenix was raised in.

Her father, Daniel, was actually the head of the cult’s Italian chapter, which explains why she was born there despite having two American parents. Fortunately, her parents left the movement in 1978 and her childhood was spent living in various European cities. At ten years old, her family finally returned to the United States where she would spend the rest of her youth.

This unconventional upbringing may be partly why she is such an outspoken person. McGowan always points out injustice when she sees it, with little consideration of how it may affect her own career and reputation. That is a highly respectable trait in an actress.


With a silky smooth baritone voice and a bombastic performance personality that could put a smile on even the longest of faces, Bobby Darin was one of the finest entertainers the world ever saw. Not only did he have an accomplished genre mixing music career, but he was also a highly acclaimed actor who was even nominated for academy award. The singer was so prolific because a serious childhood illness meant he would not have a long life span. He passed at the age of thirty-seven. His family was said to always encourage his love for music, all while hiding a huge secret. The woman he thought to be his sister, was actually his biological mother.

Much like with Jack Nicholson, Darin’s family did this to avoid the reputation that surrounds a young unwed mother. As if it’s anybody’s business to pass judgement in the first place. The singer only learned of this secret when his birth mother, Nina, confessed the truth to Darin when he was already thirty-two-years old. This discovery was said to be very difficult for him to process. His mother, undoubtedly, only wanted to do what she thought was best for Darin. But, it still meant making a large portion of her son’s life a lie.


Marlon Brando was one of the greatest actors to ever grace this earth and his best performances seem like a gift from God itself. Unfortunately, his life outside of the camera frame was often fraught with strife. Brando was a notorious ladies man whose various affairs and marriages resulted in eight children, with the actor adopting three additional kids. Unfortunately, the children’s lives were sometimes tragic, particularly Cheyenne and Christian Brando’s.

In 1990, Christian shot his sister Cheyenne’s boyfriend, Dag Drollet. The incident was said to happen after Christian confronted Dag about allegations that he had been abusing Cheyenne. Christian, Brando’s oldest child, was charged with manslaughter and served six years in prison. Cheyenne tragically ended up taking her own life in 1995 due to a struggle with mental illness. There is speculation that actor Stephen Blackehart is another biological child of the legendary actor. However, Blackehart does not believe this and has repeatedly disputed the speculation.

Brando was an eccentric figure whose acting was unlike anything anyone had ever seen. Unfortunately, such uniquely gifted talents tend to have a turbulent family life. Being famous often does nothing to make familial hardships any less severe.



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