TORONTO — What’s in a (family) name?
Quite a bit, apparently, when it comes to the next generation of actors and directors trying to make their way in the film world.
This year’s cinematic offerings at the Toronto International Film Festival featured a slew of young movie makers and up-and-coming stars with famous last names who are trying to step beyond the shadow of their well-known relatives.
But while having a recognizable surname can certainly have its perks, it seems a memorable moniker also brings certain pressures.
Colin Hanks, the witty son of the famed Tom Hanks, knows all too well what it’s like to be compared to his popular father.
“Definitely, there is more attention than most,” said the actor who was in Toronto promoting his upcoming JFK drama Parkland.
“This sort of idea of ‘Oh well, he’s not as good as his dad’ — that always makes me laugh because I was getting that when I was 23, and I’m like ‘OK … he had time to get to where he is.”’
The younger Hanks noted that while his last name creates a point of interest, he’s stopped stressing over unfair comparisons to his dad.
“There’s not really a whole lot I can do about it so I don’t really think about it too much,” he said with a shrug.
“(Acting) is a profession that I’ve chosen because I love it and I don’t want to do anything else.”
Sarah Sutherland is already learning to think along the same lines.
The 25-year-old said being the daughter of Canadian actor Kiefer Sutherland — perhaps best known for his leading role on TV’s action-packed 24 — and the granddaughter of esteemed actor Donald Sutherland does come with “certain assumptions”
But the budding actress, who was promoting her new movie Beneath the Harvest Sky at TIFF, hopes she can come to be known for her own work, and not just her name.
“My father and my grandfather have an incredible body of work and both have an incredible work ethic so I’m just proud to be associated with them and to be making my own mark in this industry,” she said.
“We always keep business and personal things very separate and they’ve always been very respectful of me figuring things out on my own.”
There’s no doubt that the progeny of big-name celebrities get held up to higher standards. But there are some among the next generation of stars who are driven by that added scrutiny.
Take Gia Coppola, for instance.
The granddaughter of Hollywood heavyweight Francis Ford Coppola (the man behind The Godfather) and niece of Sofia Coppola is well-aware of the critical analysis her own directorial debut is being subjected to.
“It does add a lot of pressure, but it just makes me want to work harder and prove that I can stand on my own,” said the soft-spoken 26-year-old.
, who has adapted a book by James Franco for the big screen with her film Palo Alto.
“I hope that people see the film because they’re interested in the story and not so much to see what the spawn of the (Coppola) family … can do.”
At the same time, the young director said she appreciates the support a family with a rich film-making background can provide.
“I have wonderful resources with my family, they’ve all made films that I love and I did ask them for some advice,” she admitted. “I’m still finding my voice. And in making a movie it’s a process where you figure it out.”
The Toronto International Film Festival wrapped up Sunday.
Cassandra Cronenberg can identify with that sentiment.
The daughter of famed Canadian director David Cronenberg (who was responsible for movies like “A Dangerous Method” and “Cosmopolis”) premiered her first short film “Candy” at TIFF this year.
Although she’s been bracing herself for comparisons to her father and other film-making relatives, the 41-year-old said she’s taking a positive approach to any extra criticism that might come her way.
“I’m happy to hear what people have to say,” said the Toronto native.
“He’s my father, my brother is my brother, my cousin is my cousin. All of these people before me have made films, they’re all related to me, I’ve grown up with them, we’re family. So how I fit into that is interesting to me. Right now, I’m enjoying it.”
She points out that while eager to stand on her own merits, it’s impossible for her own work not to be impacted in some way by her family’s background in the industry.
“I worked on my dad’s films for 10 years. I’ve seen all the films, I’ve read all the scripts,” she explained.
“There’s no way to completely separate me from him. He’s my father, I’m his child. Yes I’m doing my own thing but am I influenced? Of course, how could I not be?”