Helen Hunt has a long, illustrious Hollywood career. She’s been in everything from medical TV dramas to Oscar-winning movies to stage productions of Shakespeare plays. No matter the genre, Helen is a strong presence. You may know her from Mad About You or Twister, but she’s left her mark all over popular culture. Though she’s earned some iconic roles, her career hasn’t been a fairytale experience.
Helen Hunt was born on June 15, 1963, in Culver City, California. Her mom, Jane, was a photographer and her dad, Gordon, an acting coach and theater director. The Hunt family home definitely was an artsy environment.
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She grew up in both Los Angeles and New York. Helen knew by 9 that she wanted to be an actor, so her parents helped her get an agent. In 1973, she was cast in Pioneer Woman, a made-for-TV movie. It was enough to impress other casting directors.
After this, she appeared in a bunch of different TV series as a guest star: Amy Prentiss (1974-75), Swiss Family Robinson (1975-76), The Fitzpatricks (1977-78), and It Takes Two (1982-83). All this work was leading somewhere.
In 1984, Helen began a recurring role on St. Elsewhere, a medical drama series. The year before, she starred in Quarterback Princess. She earned acclaim playing a female student on an all-male football team who leads the team to the state championship.
Even while she was earning TV roles, she was also starring in feature films, like Rollercoaster (1977), and was a supporting actor in Girls Just Want to Have Fun (1985), Peggy Sue Got Married (1986), The Waterdance (1992), and Mr. Saturday Night (1992).
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But 1992 was a big year for Helen — she was cast as Jamie Buchman on the TV sitcom Mad About You, beating out Teri Hatcher for the part. She would win four consecutive Emmy Awards for this role from 96-99. Everyone loved her and Paul Reiser’s onscreen relationship.
While she was achieving sitcom stardom, Helen continued to audition for movies, landing something major in 1996: Twister. Alongside co-star Bill Paxton, she was in a summer hit that would go on to be one of the top-grossing films of the year. But making it was no treat.
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Both Hunt and Paxton paid for the film’s success with their health. Excessive lighting damaged both of their eyesight for a time. After diving into a filthy ditch for one take, not only did both stars have to be vaccinated for hepatitis, but Helen also got a concussion!
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But her dedication paid off. In 1997, Helen took a role as a single mother who worked as a waitress in As Good As It Gets, in which she went toe-to-toe with Jack Nicholson. She earned the Academy Award for Best Actress.
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This honor put Helen among the most highly sought actors in Hollywood. Instead of taking on another major film, however, she decided to try theater instead. She played Viola in William Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night and took some time for herself.
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In 1999, she married Hank Azaria. Apparently, it wasn’t meant to last — the couple would separate about a year later. She returned to the spotlight in 2000 with several big movies Pay It Forward, What Women Want, and Cast Away. Could she keep up her hot streak?
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The next year, Helen worked with controversial writer-director Woody Allen on The Curse of the Jade Scorpion, a comedy with Dan Aykroyd and Charlize Theron. She took a much-needed movie break for a few years afterward.
Her next project was A Good Woman (2004), and that same year, she gave birth to her first child, Makena Lei with her partner writer-producer Matthew Carnahan. Being a new mom, Helen took another short break, but soon decided she was up for a big challenge.
In 2007, Helen to directed, co-wrote, and starred in the film Then She Found Me. She drew well-received performances from Matthew Broderick, Bette Midler, and Colin Firth, but critics overall were lukewarm about the movie. Hunt let her next idea marinate before diving into another project.
It wouldn’t be until 2011, that Helen appeared in Soul Surfer, which was about surfer Bethany Hamilton’s terrifying shark attack. Bethany lost an arm from the encounter, and Hunt played the girl’s mother.
After a string of movies with meh reviews, Helen starred in the independent drama The Sessions in 2012. She played a sex therapist who has a patient in an iron lung. The movie was well-received at the Sundance Film Festival, winning two awards.
While continuing her regular acting career, Hunt also directed an episode of Californication in the same year. It seemed she had the directing bug, because she went behind the camera for many more of the hottest shows of the decade.
Helen continued directing, taking on episodes for Life in Pieces and House of Lies. She also appeared in Louis C.K.’s movie I Love You Daddy, though its distribution deal fell through after his sexual misconduct came to light. But that scandal couldn’t hurt Hunt’s starpower.
In 2017, Helen and Matthew split after 16 years as a couple. A close source described it as “messy” and instigated by Helen based on trust issues for her ex-boyfriend. Supposedly, the couple remained together for longer for their daughter’s well-being. Hunt kept her head down during the ordeal.
In the wake of her second major public relationship ending, she took a supporting role in Candy Jar (2018) and headlined I See You (2019), a horror flick about a local detective investigating a missing boy and having increasingly strange things happen along the way.
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The most telling sign of Hunt’s dedication was when Helen was in a car accident while driving in Los Angeles in 2019. She didn’t sustain any major injuries and was working again the next week. Hunt never spends too much time dwelling on her fears; she always gets to work. And that resiliency was part of how she meshed so well with co-star Jack Nicholson.
As a 37-year-old movie star, Jack Nicholson didn’t spend too much time thinking about his childhood. There were too many extravagant parties and premieres that demanded his attention. But a tip from Time magazine sent him sorting through old memories.
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By all accounts, the actor’s earliest years were pretty quiet. Jack’s parents, John and Ethel May Nicholson, were a bit on the older side, but quite compassionate. They encouraged their boy to chase his passions.
Nicholson fit in quite well with his New Jersey schoolmates. Besides being active in multiple clubs and sports teams, the boy took a shine to the stage and performed in various local productions. He had some big cheerleaders in addition to his parents.
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He had two older sisters, June and Lorraine, who were already teenagers by the time Jack was born in 1937. Despite the age gap, the girls always looked out for him and encouraged him to chase his dreams.
Seeing how much Jack enjoyed performing, they suggested that he give Hollywood a shot. In fact, one of his sisters already moved out to Tinseltown, so a 17-year-old Nicholson went to visit her and find his big break.
He had a surprising amount of early success. On that initial trip, Hanna-Barbera tried to hire Jack — a nimble artist — as one of their animators. The rising star turned them down, as he had only one profession in mind.
Jack desperately wanted to be an actor, and that wish came true in 1958. His first part was the titular character in The Cry Baby Killer, a melodramatic thriller. Though not his finest work, it set up Nicholson for steady employment.
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A breakthrough in the late ’60s finally gave Nicholson the career he really wanted. Easy Rider erupted into a counterculture blockbuster, earning Jack his first Oscar nomination and international stardom.
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Following acclaimed performances in Five Easy Pieces and The Last Detail, Nicholson probably could’ve walked into any newsstand and picked up a magazine with his likeness. Ahead of the release of Chinatown, however, a reporter from Time came across an inconsistency that no one else ever noticed.
The emerging truth was so jolting that the publication reached out to Nicholson directly for comment. They had to make sure they weren’t missing some crucial piece of information, after all. But Nicholson knew nothing about their findings.
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It had revolved around the actor’s true parentage. According to Time’s research, John and Ethel May Nicholson weren’t his biological parents at all. They’d lied about that story for their entire lives…
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They were actually Nicholson’s grandparents! And his “sisters” June and Lorraine were his mother and aunt, respectively. Apparently June — underage and unmarried — couldn’t deal with the stigma of having a child, so the Nicholsons invented a cover story to maintain her respectability.
Jack saw that all of the reporter’s sources were accurate, though the truth was hard to believe on some level. He’d been at the deathbeds of John, Ethel May, and June in years prior, and none of them told him anything.
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Because of this, Nicholson would never truly know who his birth father was. The strongest candidate was a vaudeville performer named Donald Rose, whom June unsuccessfully tried to marry, but she was also involved with other men in that period.
With the bizarre cover-up confirmed, Time broke the story. Chinatown, the reporter’s original impetus behind the Nicholson profile, coincidentally featured a similar twist where one character is revealed to be the sister and the daughter of another.
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That parallel only made the Nicholson revelation more eerie. After seeing the actor deceived for his entire life, fans and loved ones alike speculated how he would respond. Would he feel traumatized? Would it send him spiraling into lunacy?
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Not quite. “By the time I found out who my mother was, I was pretty well psychologically formed,” explained Nicholson, jokingly adding,”I was very impressed by their ability to keep the secret if nothing else. It’s done great things for me.”
Though he might’ve made light of his parentage, that report very could have influenced Nicholson’s own fathering style. He strove to always be there for his kids — and owned up to his mistakes. That wasn’t easy, considering he had five children with four different women.
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The actor never seemed to take marriage too seriously, whether in his own life or his family’s. But there was one woman who ruled his heart for a time. He spent nearly two decades with Anjelica Huston. Her family life was vastly different, but came with no less baggage.
When you’re the daughter of a major Hollywood director, a “normal” childhood is pretty much out of the question. Huston had a lot expected of her and huge shoes to fill. Her director father was a force and helped mold the Huston we know today.
The award-winning filmmaker John Huston was far from perfect. Along with his heavy drinking, he participated in many extramarital affairs throughout Anjelica’s childhood. That wasn’t even the worst of his parenting.
Because John was an Irish citizen, the young family spent most of Anjelica’s childhood in Ireland. Her mother was ballerina and model Enrica Soma. Ireland still holds a special place in Huston’s heart as it’s where she grew up.
An adolescent, Anjelica began seeking out acting roles. Both her grandfather and father before her had won Oscars, so she needed to work hard if she expected to do the same. She had her eye on one specific role.
When she heard Franco Zeffirelli was casting for his version of Romeo and Juliet, she was desperate to audition. Unfortunately for her, her controlling father had other plans for her route to stardom. He wanted to be in charge of her trajectory.
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Instead of the Zeffirelli film, she was forced to work on her father’s own movie called A Walk with Love and Death. This would create a huge rift between father and daughter, along with his harsh and open criticism of her on set.
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Critics tore Anjelica’s performance apart. One described her as having “the face of an exhausted gnu, the voice of an unstrung tennis racket, and a figure of no discernible shape.” Things would turn around, but it would take some time and some sad setbacks.
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Sometimes it gets worse before it gets better. When Anjelica was still a teenager, she lost her mother in a horrific car accident. This lead her to make a big change in her life that would define her career.
Upon her mother’s death, she left Ireland and her father and went to make her way in the United States. She started modelling in addition to acting, and she became fairly popular from her photo campaigns.
When she began to collect recognition for her beauty, so began her complicated love life. She entered relationships with much older men, some almost the same age as her father. One of the worst of them was photographer Bob Richardson.
Much like her father, Richardson was extremely controlling and obsessive over Anjelica. He wouldn’t allow her to be photographed by anyone but him, and he was constantly barking orders at her. She was much happier when the relationship ended.
During the 1970s, Anjelica fell in love with actor Ryan O’Neal. One night, he lost track of her at a party and became enraged. When he finally found her, he was physically abusive to her. She called him a “deeply disturbed individual.”
One bad relationship after another yielded painful scars for Huston. But everything changed when she met actor Jack Nicholson. The pair would become one of the most famous couples in Hollywood for almost seventeen years.
They even acted together in the film Prizzi’s Honor. The role would prove to be one of the most important of Huston’s career. In 1986, the Academy Awards would be a Huston family affair.
The director of Prizzi’s Honor was none other than John Huston, Anjelica’s father. That legendary night was a big win for the family when Anjelica won Best Supporting Actress, her then-boyfriend Jack Nicholson won Best Actor, and John Huston won Best Director.
Even considering the troubled relationship they shared, when Anjelica found out she won, she ran to her father. The pair hugged with tears streaming down their faces. John was incredibly proud of how far his daughter had come.
Her love life would once again take a hit when Nicholson informed her had an affair with another woman resulting in a child. As a goodbye gift, Nicholson gave Huston a diamond bracelet that Frank Sinatra once gave Ava Gardner
In 1992, Huston found the man who would end her lifelong struggle with romantic relationships. Artist Robert Graham and Anjelica Huston fell in love and enjoyed a loving marriage until 2008 when tragedy would strike yet again.
Graham passed away in 2008, making Huston a widow. She would never remarry after his passing. Huston admits she was attracted to “difficult men” in her life, but she lost the one partner who made it all make sense far too soon.
Anjelica Huston’s life has been a storm of pain, triumph and exceptional accomplishment. Even with all that she’s been through, she has been the architect of some of the most iconic characters of modern cinematic history.
From Morticia Addams to the quintessential wicked stepmother in Ever After her characters have taken on a life of their own. It’s easy to forget the person behind the character, and the life of Anjelica Huston harbors as much drama as any movie plot.
Born into fame, she proved herself and her talent on every level from her acting ability and inspiring independence. No one can know what it was like to go through what she has, but her accomplishments speak for themselves.
Another actor who knows what it’s like to grow up with family in the business is Jamie Lee Curtis. Though you’d never guess it, Curtis is actually a huge World of Warcraft fan. She’s attended several Comic-Cons and Bliz-Cons in full cosplay and was even invited to attend the premiere of 2016’s Warcraft.
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Despite her fame within the horror genre, Curtis has admitted she’s not a fan of the scary stuff: “I do not like horror movies. I do not say this for a joke, although it gets a laugh, I really don’t. There’s nothing I like about being scared.”
Since 1993, Curtis has penned a total of 13 children’s books. Her 1998 book Today I Feel Silly, and Other Moods That Make My Day was actually a New York Times best seller for ten weeks.
Curtis is the daughter of actors Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh, with the latter known as the original “scream queen” from her role in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho (1960). She also has several half-siblings and an older sister, Kelly Curtis, who is an actress as well.
One of Curtis’ longtime friends is actress Sigourney Weaver, a fellow “scream queen” from the Alien films. Hilariously, Curtis admitted in 2015 that she’s never watched the original Alien all the way through because it was too scary!
During her highly publicized partnership with L’eggs, Curtis’ long legs attracted plenty of customers to the pantyhose brand. In fact, her legs were so prized by the brand that L’eggs actually insured them for $2.8 million.
After spotting a picture of This Is Spinal Tap star Christopher Guest, Curtis turned to her friend Debra Hill and told her, “Oh, I’m going to marry that guy.” The pair wed five months later and have been together ever since.
Before pursuing a career in Hollywood, Curtis actually had very different plans for her future. While attending the University of the Pacific in Stockton, California, Curtis majored in social work before dropping out after one semester.
Along with being one of Hollywood’s most beloved leading ladies, Curtis is also literal royalty. Following the death of her father-in-law, Curtis’ husband inherited the title of 5th Baron Haden-Guest, making her a baroness!
A Hungarian Jew, Curtis began delving deeper into her heritage in the early ’90s and made an incredible gesture. Together with her father, Curtis helped finance the reconstruction of the “Great Synagogue” in Budapest, Hungary.
Curtis made her big-screen debut as Laurie Strode in the 1978 horror classic Halloween. Her performance was highly praised, and she went on to reprise the role in Halloween II (1981), Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998), Halloween: Resurrection (2002), and the 2018 remake, Halloween.
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An LGBTQ-rights activist, Curtis appeared alongside Martin Sheen and Brad Pitt in 8, a staged reenactment of the trial that overturned California’s Prop 8 ban on same-sex marriage. She also appeared in a tribute video for the victims of the 2016 Orlando night club shooting.
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Following the success of Halloween, Curtis established herself as a leading Hollywood “scream queen” with performances in several other horror classics, including Prom Night, The Fog, and Terror Train.
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Strangely enough, Curtis actually owned a patent for a diaper designed with a built-in pocket for wipes until 2007. Since 2017, however, she’s held the rights to another diaper design, this one relating to biodegradability.
Curtis shed her “scream queen” image after starring in 1983’s Trading Places, a role that earned her a BAFTA award for best supporting actress. She followed up with 1988’s A Fish Called Wanda, a cult film that established her as a comedic actress.
In a 2019 interview, Curtis revealed that she suffered from alcoholism and became addicted to painkillers early in her career. She sought help for her addiction and has been sober since 1999.
With nearly a hundred acting credits to her name, Curtis is easily one of Hollywood’s most iconic leading ladies. It should come as no surprise, then, that she received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame back in 1990.
In addition to her humanitarian work, Curtis is also heavily involved in philanthropy. She currently serves on the leadership board of Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and also works with the Children Affected By AIDS Foundation.
Following her parents divorce in 1962, Curtis’s relationship with her father began to deteriorate. In fact, Tony Curtis’ relationship with his children was so nonexistent that by the time he passed away in 2010 he’d cut all of them from his will — Curtis included.
In addition to being the mother of two adopted children, Curtis is also godmother to actor Jake Gyllenhaal, having been close with his parents — director Stephen Gyllenhaal and screenwriter Naomi Foner — for years.
Incredibly, Hollywood is filled with more godparent-godchild relationships than you’d think. Miley Cyrus and Dolly Parton are one notable pair; during Miley’s radical image shift, Parton was one of the few people that stood by the young star.
2. Marisa Tomei & Zoë Kravitz: After starring alongside Lisa Bonet on A Different World, Marisa Tomei was named godmother of her daughter Zoë, whom she had with first husband Lenny Kravitz.
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3. Mariah Carey & Patti LaBelle: Not only is Patti LaBelle the “Godmother of Soul,” but she’s also godmother to none other than Mariah Carey! The pair actually performed together in 2016 for the VH1 Divas Holiday: Unsilent Night benefit concert.
4. Sting & Rocco Ritchie: The son of Madonna and Guy Ritchie, Rocco has all the tools and connections he needs to become a success. If he ever needs a little extra help, however, he can always look to his godfather, Police frontman Sting.
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5. Steven Spielberg & Drew Barrymore: After Barrymore’s role in E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial made her a star, Steven Spielberg was named the young actress’ godfather — and a protective one at that. Following her 1995 Playboy shoot, Spielberg sent her a quilt and told her to cover up!
6. Jennifer Aniston & Coco Arquette: Who knew that Friends co-stars Jennifer Aniston and Courteney Cox-Arquette are actually close friends in real life? Cox never had any kids on the show, so Aniston will just have to settle for being one to Coco Arquette.
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7. Macaulay Culkin & Paris Jackson: In 1998, child star Macaulay Culkin became godfather to longtime-friend Michael Jackson’s daughter, Paris. Despite their godparent-godchild relationship, the two are more like close friends.
8. Sugar Ray Leonard & Khloé Kardashian: Not many would expect boxing legend Sugar Ray Leonard to be Khloé Kardashian’s godfather, but the famous fighter was actually friends with Khloé’s late father, Robert.
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9. Steven Spielberg & Gwyneth Paltrow: That’s right — Drew Barrymore has some competition. Steve Spielberg also serves as godfather to Gwyneth Paltrow, whom he cast as the young Wendy Darling in his 1991 film Hook.
10. Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman & Rupert Murdoch’s daughters: Aussies like to stick together, so it’s no wonder that media mogul Rupert Murdoch named the Australian actors godparents to his daughters Chloe and Grace.
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11. Michael Jackson & Nicole Richie: After adopting Nicole, Lionel Richie chose friend and longtime collaborator Michael Jackson to be her godfather. The pop icon shares this title with jazz legend Quincy Jones.
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12. Lady Gaga & Elton John’s sons: Being named godparent to one child is flattering enough, but to serve as one to both of Elton John’s sons is an incredible honor. That’s the case for Lady Gaga, who’s godmother to both Zachary and Elijah John-Furnish.
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13. Hugh Grant & Damian Hurley: Remember when Hugh Grant’s high-profile relationship with Elizabeth Hurley ended in scandal? Well, it seems all is forgiven, as Hurley named Grant godfather to her son, Damian.
14. Bono & Brangelina’s twins: Citing their shared passion for improving the world through humanitarian efforts, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie named U2 frontman Bono the godfather of their twins, Knox and Vivienne.
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15. Henry Winkler & Bryce Dallas Howard: This should come as a surprise to no one, as Bryce’s father, Ron Howard, co-starred with Winkler on Happy Days. Could you imagine having the Fonz for a godfather?
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16. Johnny Depp & Tim Burton’s children: With their shared Hollywood history, it’s no wonder that Depp and Burton are close friends. That’s why he and Helena Bonham Carter named Depp godfather to their children, Billy Raymond and Nell.
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17. Elton John & Sean Lennon: Elton John has ten godkids in total – but not many know that he also plays the part for John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s son, Sean Lennon.
18. Eva Longoria & Harper Beckham: As far as Hollywood besties go, Eva Longoria and Victoria Beckham are as close as it gets. That’s why in 2011 Posh Spice named the Desperate Housewives star godmother to her daughter, Harper.
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19. Sonny Bono & Anthony Kiedis: The resemblance between godfather and godson is uncanny! Sonny Bono was a close friend of Kiedis’ father, Blackie Dammett, and would even take the Red Hot Chili Peppers frontman on weekend trips as a kid.
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