Some of the most memorable onscreen moms have been played by actresses who are moms in real life too. Although not all of them are exactly like their characters (Monica Potter has let it be known she is around 90 percent the same as Parenthood’s Kristina Braverman), they have been able to better relate to these characters because of their own life experiences. And sometimes, their lives even mirror that of their characters. For example, Sofia Vergara and her Modern Family character are both young mothers from the same town in Colombia, who have raised their children as solo parents.
Other actresses find themselves actively seeking out maternal roles, which makes sense because so much of their own lives revolve around their children. Nicole Kidman has admitted she likes playing mothers because she is able to resonate with them, explaining, “My maternal force is probably my strongest energy in the world. It’s my life.”
Being a mother teaches women a lot about themselves, and Elizabeth McGovern has spoken about how she was able to better understand her roles, while Ellen Pompeo has shared the valuable lessons that her children have taught her. Below are 20 memorable onscreen mothers, who are even better in real life.
20 Nicole Kidman Likes Being A Mom In Real-Life And OnScreen
Nicole Kidman is a mom to four children; her first two, she adopted when she was in a relationship with Tom Cruise, and later, when she married Keith Urban, the pair had two daughters.
Being a mom is the role that Kidman enjoys both onscreen and off, and she has taken on the maternal role multiple times, including the film, Boy Erased. She spoke about her decision to choose a maternal role in an interview, and according to Page Six, she said, “I like playing mothers. My maternal force is probably my strongest energy in the world. It’s my life. Where I resonate right now...”
19 Reese Witherspoon Is One Of The Most Relatable Celebrity Moms Out There
Reese Witherspoon is another actress who is a mother in real life, and a mother onscreen. In real life, she has three children, two who she shares with ex-husband Ryan Phillippe, and a son, Tennessee, who she had in her current marriage to Jim Toth.
As for her roles as a mother onscreen, these include the TV series, Big Little Liars, and Devil’s Knot. She has managed to find a balance between raising her family, and working on projects she is passionate about, something which she thinks her children will understand.
"My mom worked, and I think it’s good for kids to see women working and being successful," she told InStyle (via People). "I think it’s going to make them hard workers because they see that I don’t get much sleep."
18 Angelina Jolie Played The Role Of A Mom Who Would Do Whatever It Takes In ‘Changeling’ -- She's The Same With Her Kids
One of Angelina Jolie’s most memorable roles was as a distraught mother in the 2008 drama film, Changeling. The film is based on a true story, and Jolie played the character of a mother whose child went missing, and the lengths she went to try and get him back.
Being a mother herself, to a particularly large brood of children (three boys and three girls) this film was very hard for her to do. In an interview with Indie London, she said, “as a mum it was [tough].” The serious script also made her want to spend more time with her children on set, and just be silly, and she explained that she found herself “being very, very goofy with them.”
17 Meredith Baxter Starred As One Of T.V.’s Most Memorable Moms, And Her Life Is Just As Interesting
Meredith Baxter held the role of one of the most famous TV moms of all time, Elyse Keaton, in Family Ties. And according to New York Times, in real-life, she is a mother to five children.
There was a point in the show when her own life mirrored that of her characters, and People notes that in the third season when Baxter’s character gave birth, she had become a mother to twins, four months earlier. The publication notes that motherhood is something Baxter embraced and always brought her children on set, and even nursed them in an interview.
16 Amy Brenneman Dislikes Leaving Her Babies To Work On Set
Amy Brenneman’s character on Private Practise didn’t have the easiest journey into motherhood, but Brenneman’s own life is much happier. She is a mother to two children, Bodhi and Charlotte, who she shares with her husband Brad Silberling, and although she seems to enjoy being an actress, she has had to deal with working mom guilt.
She has shared her thoughts on the topic, and according to Working Mother, has said she felt conflicted "a lot" by having to work and be a mom. She continued, “I'm in agony all the time. I say to Brad that it’s confusing and agonizing all the time. I do think culturally it’s not as agonizing for dads…”
15 Sofia Vergara's Storyline On ‘Modern Family’ Mirrors Her Own In Some Ways
Not many people realize Sofia Vergara is a mother to an adult son. According to Daily Mail, she married her high school sweetheart, and when she was 19, she gave birth to their son, Manolo Gonzalez-Ripoll Vergara.
Now, she is known and loved for her role on Modern Family, and it seems that some of her character Gloria’s life, mirrors her own. For starters, both she and Gloria were young mothers from Colombia, who ended up raising their son on their own (at least, until Gloria married Jay). That said, Vergara told Colombian newspaper El Heraldo (via Fox News) that she drew inspiration for her character from her aunt, Gloria.
14 Julie Bowen Has Three Kids On ‘Modern Family’ And Three Kids Offscreen
Another Modern Family star worth mentioning is Julie Bowen, who plays the role of Claire Dunphy on the hit series. She is a mother of two daughters and a son on the series, but in real life, she has a brood of only boys.
Being a mom to three boys can be tiring, but Bowen told People she is “never bored.” However, the greatest thing about being a mom is when her children are happy and taken care of. She said, “I don’t need much to be happy if my kids are doing well, so it’s a gift. They occupy so much of my time and my brain, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
13 Jennifer Lopez Was A Doting Mom In ‘Maid In Manhattan’ And She’s Thankful Every Day She’s A Mom In Real-Life, Too
Jennifer Lopez is an entertainer, and she is a very diverse one at that. In addition to being a fantastic singer and dancer, she has also tried her hand at acting. One of her most memorable mom roles was with the 2002 romantic comedy, Maid In Manhattan.
Offscreen, Lopez is a mother to twins, Emme and Maximilian, who she shares with ex-husband, Marc Anthony. She is incredibly grateful to experience motherhood, and spoke about this during an appearance on Today, saying, "They just made my life so much better. I'm forever grateful that ... you know, I didn't have kids until later and so I almost thought that it wasn't going to happen for me, so I'm very aware that I was blessed with that."
12 Ellen Pompeo’s Kids Have Taught Her So Many Valuable Lessons
Ellen Pompeo is best known for her role as Meredith Grey on Grey’s Anatomy, and you may remember that while her character was many things, she was also a mom. Pompeo is a mom in real life, too, and she and husband Chris Ivery have three children, all of whom have taught her very valuable lessons about herself.
In an interview with InStyle, Pompeo spoke about these lessons, explaining that one of the most important things she’s learned is “That every mistake and every moment is a teaching moment.” Her children have taught her not to dwell on the mistakes, and instead, she tries to take an optimistic approach.
11 Drew Barrymore Has Her Daughters To Thank For Making Her The Person She Is Now
Drew Barrymore makes everyone laugh with her role in Santa Clarita Diet. Of course, her home life is not as strange, but having her daughters has shaped her life and made her want to become a better person.
Barrymore spoke about this in an interview with Good Housekeeping, saying, "I'm an overachiever parent, and not because I think I'm going to repeat the patterns of my parents. That's not my worry — I've already [shattered] that pattern in my life. But having grown up in the opposite way, I'm raising my children with all consistency, all protection. This is my chance to get it right."
10 Courtney Cox Wants To Have An Open And Close Relationship With Her Daughter
Courtney Cox is a talented actress, especially when it comes to comedic roles, and her most memorable role as a mother was on the series, Cougar Town. In it, she starred as co-star Dan Byrd's mother. But she has a daughter, Coco Arquette, in real life, who she shares with ex-husband, David Arquette.
Coco is incredibly important to Cox, and the actress spoke to New Beauty about her parenting approach to things like her daughter’s clothing and makeup. She said, “I want to keep an open relationship with her. I care more about what she’s watching than what she’s putting on her face.”
9 Teri Hatcher Makes Motherhood A Priority Over Her Career And Everything Else
Teri Hatcher starred on Desperate Housewives as the character, Susan Meyer. Her character may have been insecure and flawed, but one thing no one can deny is the close bond she shared with her daughter, Julie. And the same can be said for Hatcher’s relationship with her real daughter, Emerson Rose (who she had in 1997, while married Jon Tenney, Daily Mail reports).
According to People, during an appearance on The View, Hatcher spoke about motherhood and revealed that everything else comes second. She said, “I’ve always made mothering the priority of my life. Over my career, over everything.”
8 Felicity Huffman Knows That There Is No Such Thing As A Perfect Mom, And She’s Helping Women Realize That
In keeping with the women from Desperate Housewives, and their very memorable characters, we bring you Felicity Huffman, or as she was known on the show, Lynette Scavo. In many ways, she was the most relatable mom of them all, and a mother who loved her children, but could also admit that there were times when she needed a break to focus on herself.
In her own life, Huffman also wants moms to know that there is no such thing as a perfect mother, and to prove it, she created a website, What the Flicka?. Speaking about the inspiration behind her creation, she told Forbes, “I wanted to create a safe, funny community where we could hop on the virtual kitchen countertop and share advice and problems and it would all be safe.”
7 Connie Britton Was An Amazing Mom On ‘Friday Night Lights,’ But She’s Even Better In Real Life
Connie Britton has played a mother onscreen a number of times, most notably as Tami Taylor in Friday Night Lights, and as Rayna James in Nashville -- both strong female characters, and exceptional mothers.
Britton has a son, Eyob Britton, who she is raising as a solo mom. Motherhood has changed her life for the better, and Britton told Good Housekeeping she considers it to be her biggest role yet. “Motherhood has been the greatest gift of my life,” she stated. She also told the publication that she had been to Ethiopia to spend time at the orphanages there, and would consider adopting a second child.
6 Lauren Graham Is A Step Mom And It’s A Role She Values
The bond Lorelai Gilmore and her daughter, Rory, share on Gilmore Girls is truly special, and it’s why we watched the series with such dedication. Lauren Graham did a superb role as a mother, and she was incredibly believable, and you may expect that she drew inspiration from her own brood of children. The thing is, she’s a little different to the other women on the list because the role she has is of step-mother.
It’s an incredibly important role, too. And according to Mom.me, Graham had this to say on the subject: “I have several kids in my life—most importantly, my boyfriend's son.” She also commented on how she knows a lot of people with children and gets to be the "friend-adult."
5 Meryl Streep Actually Starred In A Film With Her Daughter Mamie Gummer
Meryl Streep has a marriage that has withstood the test of time (especially in Hollywood) and she has been married to Don Gummer since 1978. Together, the couple has four children; three daughters and one son, and it was their eldest daughter, Mamie, that Streep starred in a film with.
According to Today, the two women have actually appeared alongside each other twice, first with Heartburn in 1986, when Mamie was just a toddler, and more recently, the 2015 film, Ricki and the Flash. Streep revealed she was proud of her daughter, adding, "[Mamie has] always been dramatic ... She's always been fierce and fearless and has no trouble expressing her feelings, and that's sort of the job description."
4 Elizabeth McGovern Better Understands Her Characters Because Of Her Own Experiences With Motherhood
We loved Elizabeth McGovern as Cora Crawley in the drama series, Downton Abbey. In it, she was a mother to daughters, and after the show, she was drawn to another character, Mrs. Conway in Time and the Conways. So, why the roles that focus on motherhood? It seems McGovern is drawn to these characters because her own experiences make them more relatable.
In an interview with New York Times, she said she could easily understand Mrs. Conway. She continued to explain why, stating, “The need to be attractive, the need to be the center of attention, the need to be the star, despite the fact that you’re supposed to be passing all that onto your children, I can definitely relate. I’m sure my children would agree.”
3 Monica Potter Says Her Character In ‘Parenthood’ Is About 90 Percent Similar To Who She Is
Monica Potter plays the role of Kristina Braverman on Parenthood, and it’s a role that has a few similarities to her real life, namely that Potter plays a mother of three, and that both she and her character “shine on the homefront,” The Stir reports.
But how much of herself is really in her character? Potter answered this question in an interview with The Stir, saying, “People have asked me how much of myself is in Kristina, and I would say about 90 percent. We've sort of become one person.” She also revealed that they are both go-getters.
2 Sally Field Played The Overbearing But Most Loving Mom Ever, On ‘Brothers & Sisters’
Sally Field has taken on a maternal role a few times, but the one that really stands out is her role as Nora Walker in the series, Brothers & Sisters. She may have been overbearing at times, but she was accepting and had the biggest heart, and the latter can be said for how Field is as a mother -- as proven by her youngest son, Sam Greisman’s comments on how she supports him.
Addressing a crowd at the Human Rights Campaign (H.R.C.) Gala (via Vanity Fair), he spoke about her reaction to him coming out, saying, “She couldn’t be more supportive of me; if anything, I wish she was a little less supportive of me.”
1 Patricia Arquette’s Role As A Mom Prepared Her For Her Role In ‘Boyhood’
Patricia Arquette’s role in Boyhood earned her an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress, so to say that the project, which took 12 years to create, was a memorable onscreen moment is probably an understatement. But fewer people will know about Arquette’s motherhood journey offscreen, and how it prepared her for her role in Boyhood.
"I was a [solo] mom when I was 20, and there were times where I didn't know if I could buy him [her eldest child, Enzo Rossi] diapers and could buy food," Arquette told HuffPost Live. "I knew what that was like.”