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The Huston Family

The acting dynasty proves it can rule TV, too

For generations, the Hustons have been proving that talent may just have a genetic component. Oscar-winning actor Walter Huston (The Treasure of the Sierra Madre) begat Oscar-winning directing legend John Huston (The African Queen), who begat Academy Award-winning actress Anjelica Huston (Prizzi's Honor) and critically celebrated character actor Danny Huston (The Constant Gardener). Now, after decades of making their presence felt in film, the clan is taking over our TV sets. This year will see the return of three Hustons to the small screen — Danny on Starz's Magic City, his half sister Anjelica on NBC's Smash, and their nephew Jack on HBO's Boardwalk Empire. And while the word dynasty in the context of television may evoke catfighting and hair pulling, this particular family is about as supportive as you can get.

''We have a very, very tight bond'' says Jack. Since both their shows shoot in New York City, Jack and Anjelica get plenty of time together. ''Our sets share a lot of crew members,'' says Anjelica.''So I'm apt to hear what's going on at Jack's set and he from mine.'' Jack approached his more experienced relatives for advice before signing on for the role of Boardwalk's disfigured Richard Harrow, but one of the best bits of wisdom had already come from his uncle years earlier. ''Danny said to me when I was young, 'If people ask you about your family, don't be the a- -hole who says, 'I'm my own person!' '' he recalls. ''It's an incredible family to be a part of.''

It can also be a source of inspiration: Danny built his character, Magic City's merciless gangster Ben Diamond, out of parts that included Edward G. Robinson's similarly Florida-trapped heavy in Key Largo, a 1948 noir directed by his father. ''Then there are times when I see Ben Diamond and I see elements of Noah Cross,'' he says, referring to John Huston's role in Chinatown. ''It's uncanny sometimes.'' Anjelica also gave a nod to her family's work on Smash, where, as no-nonsense Broadway producer Eileen Rand, she did a rendition of ''September Song,'' a standard first sung by her grandfather in the original production of Knickerbocker Holiday. (As for more singing in the upcoming season 2, Anjelica says, ''I'd love to sing again. They haven't asked me to, but there's still a few months [of production] left.'')

Soon the Huston legacy will be extended further — Jack's girlfriend, model Shannan Click, is expecting their first child. ''Another Huston!'' Jack exclaims. ''Whatever she wants to do, I'll support. But I'm open to her joining the family business.''

Originally posted Jan 11, 2013 Published in issue #1242 Jan 18, 2013 Order article reprints