Nepotism in Cannes: Francesca Scorsese and Sawyer Spielberg’s movie premiere sparks debate on nepo babies

News that the children of the legendary filmmakers will be starring in the comedy ‘Christmas Eve in Miller’s Point’ has reopened debate about how the children of celebrities are encroaching upon Hollywood

Francesca Scorsese y Martin Scorsese en la Vanity Fair Oscar Party 2024
Francesca Scorsese and Martin Scorsese at the Vanity Fair Oscar Party 2024.Amy Sussman (Getty Images)

If you read it quickly, the headline is striking: “Scorsese and Spielberg are going to star in a Christmas comedy.” At a second glance, the headline is almost even more surprising: “Francesca Scorsese and Sawyer Spielberg are going to star in a Christmas comedy.” Christmas Eve in Miller’s Point, the second movie by a semi-unknown director named Tyler Taormina, has already become one of the most anticipated and talked about premieres of the upcoming Cannes festival due to the illustrious surnames of its cast.

The film — which looks at the tensions and quarrels of a family’s past during a Christmas Eve dinner — is coming into the Cannes festival as a viral sensation, boosted both by the excitement around seeing the children of two cinema legends — and close friends — take their first steps in acting, and by allegations that it is a blatant sign of Hollywood’s nepotism. “Crazy,” “hilarious” and “pathetic” are some of the adjectives that have been used on social media to describe the professional marriage of two of the most famous nepo babies in the Hollywood Hills. “They should have involved a Coppola too,” said one user on X, formerly Twitter.

Although the actors will share the screen at Cannes, the two have followed radically different paths. At 24 years old, Francesca Scorsese — the youngest daughter of the filmmaker Martin Scorsese and book editor Helen S. Morris — has become one of the most famous figures in the Hollywood universe. She has starred in TV shows such as Luca Guadagnino’s We Are Who We Are, but it has been her talent on TikTok, where she has more than 200,000 followers, that has catapulted her to fame.

Videos of Francesca and her father, where she teaches him Generation Z slang or urges him to choose his favorite movie by moving his head in different directions, have received millions of views. Indeed, many media outlets say it was thanks to Francesca’s promotion that the filmmaker’s latest film, Killers of the Flower Moon, received such a strong response among young viewers.

Unlike the children of other celebrities, Francesca — who grew up playing with Leonardo DiCaprio and has Robert De Niro as a godfather — recognizes the privileges of her surname. “I just try to be the best nepo baby that I can be,” she told Nylon.Of course, I get the upper hand with a lot of things — I’m very fortunate. The one thing I can do is try to keep myself humble, grounded, and spoil the fuck out of my friends.”

In contrast, Sawyer Spielberg — one of Steven Spielberg and actress Kate Capshaw’s six children — isn’t even on social media. Although, like Francesca, he also spent his childhood on the sets of some of the greatest works of cinema, the 32-year-old avoids any type of media exposure. In the three years that have passed since his debut as a lead actor in a feature film, he has barely given any interviews, avoids appearing with his father on camera, and seems allergic to red carpets. It was only in 2024 that he became more widely known to the public thanks to a small supporting role in the Apple TV+ series Masters of the Air, produced by his father.

Married to fellow performer Raye Levine, Sawyer has worked exclusively in theater since he was 17. But it seems inevitable that he will make the leap to the big screen: he aspires to follow in the footsteps of his icon, Spanish actor Javier Bardem. His vocation for acting is thanks, above all, to the efforts of his father, who converted the family home into a film set.

“When I was a teenager, I had a hard time getting up to go to school. One morning, he came in and he said, ‘Okay, I’m a director, you’re an actor. I’m going to barge into your room and I’m going to say, action and you have to get up, brush your teeth, get dressed and head down for breakfast.’ And sure enough: he came in, he said, ‘Action,’ and I got up, brushed my teeth, and came downstairs for breakfast and everything worked. His directing skills have worked both in the cinema and at home,” he said on The Drew Barrymore Show.

Sawyer Spielberg at the premiere of 'Masters of the Air.'ROBYN BECK (AFP via Getty Images)

The rise of the children of celebrities was already a big issue in the entertainment industry in 2023. In the article She Has Her Mother’s Eyes. And Agent, journalist Nate Jones sparked the controversy by analyzing the privileges and handicaps of nepo babies — a long list of names that includes Dakota Johnson, John David Washington, Zoë Kravitz, Maude Apatow, Maya Hawke and Lily-Rose Depp. “The stir over Hollywood nepotism had begun to percolate at the start of the pandemic, which both supercharged the backlash against celebrities and heightened the salience of their dynastic ties,” wrote Jones.

Shortly after the article was published, the trailer for Let Me Go (The Right Way) sparked further debate on nepotism in Hollywood. The short film tells the story of a young soldier who seeks help for his traumas from a psychiatrist, but it was met with outcry on social media over the number of celebrity children involved in the production. It was directed by Destry Spielberg (Steven Spielberg’s daughter, who is already preparing a feature debut), written by Owen King (the first child of the famous writer Stephen King) and stars Hopper Penn, the son of Sean Penn and Robin Wright.

But there is at least one person who defends nepo babies in Hollywood Hills. “I think it’s kind of an ugly moniker,” Gwyneth Paltrow, the daughter of an actress and producer, told Bustle, explaining that she is upset by the comments over her eldest daughter Apple. “Nobody rips on a kid who’s like, ‘I want to be a doctor like my dad and granddad.’” At age 19, her daughter Apple is becoming an “it girl of fashion. Perhaps she will be soon be walking the red carpets of Cannes and Venice...

Lily-Rose Depp at the 2023 Cannes Film Festival.
Lily-Rose Depp at the 2023 Cannes Film Festival.Marc Piasecki (FilmMagic)

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