If an actor or actress has made it big in Hollywood, they are more than likely a very talented individual who is able to play a diverse number of roles. Not all the parts that stars take on are true to real life, although it makes it easier when they can draw inspiration from personal experiences, like many A-listers who are moms do, when they take on a maternal role.
But there are many actresses who do not have children and have still given a convincing and memorable performance as a mother onscreen.
Some, like Tracee Ellis Ross, thanks to her performance in Black-ish, and Winona Ryder in Stranger Things, are so convincing that their fans are certain they are mothers in real life. It’s also triggered an onset of personal questions relating to whether or not they want to have children, and it's gotten to the point where Ross has to tell people to leave her alone.
Below are 20 stars who’ve had maternal roles, but who have no desire to become a mother in real life. All of their reasons differ; some feel being a mother was never an aspiration, and others are content with focusing on their professional lives, but one thing these celebs remind us is there are many women who choose to remain childfree.
Susan Kelechi stars as Beth Pearson on the hit series, This Is Us, but despite playing the role of a mom onscreen (and doing a very convincing job of it) she is not actually a mother in real-life. That said, there are some similarities between Kelechi and character, namely that on the show Pearson is Jamaican, and she is a Jamaican/U.S. actress. Speaking of this, she told The Mary Sue (via The List) that the show was a great way for her to represent her culture.
She said, "There's this richness, this beauty, this light and so I get the opportunity to be some sort of symbol of that and for us, it's a new thing in a lot of ways to see that on TV."
Anyone who has ever watched Stranger Things would have been impressed with Winona Ryder’s performance as Joyce. The character is a single mom who was working hard to support her children, and when her son went missing, she was not willing to give up. But people are interested in Ryder’s personal life, and she has admitted that she gets questions about playing maternal roles.
Speaking about her character, she told New York Magazine's The Cut, "I’m getting asked a lot, ‘You don’t have kids, so how do you know how to act like a mother?’ I know nothing could compare, and I haven’t had that experience, but when my niece was born, I felt like I [would do anything] for this little person I didn’t even know yet."
Tracee Ellis Ross is a total queen on Black-ish but there are times she wishes that people were not trying to make a comparison between her onscreen character and her real life. Especially when it comes to the constant questions about her having children.
She spoke about her feelings relating to the questions about motherhood with Vanity Fair, and her comments make it clear she’s had enough.
She said, "I literally have said to people, for real, no joke, 'Why don't you just get out of my womb? Like, get out [...] What are you doing in there? And why are you asking those questions? And what makes you think you can ask that?'"
Many people are convinced Lauren has a daughter (or a whole brood of children) because of how convincing she was in her role as Lorelai Gilmore on Gilmore Girls.
Despite Graham not having biological children, she is a stepmom of sorts because her longtime boyfriend, Peter Krause, has a son.
A family is incredibly important to Graham and she shared her thoughts on the topic with Mom.me, saying, “I have an amazing family, and they never don't benefit from more communication. I also have a family that I've created, which is my boyfriend and his son, and our friends—our extended family, in that sense. Both are important to me.”
Who can forget Kitty Forman from That ‘70s Show? The role was played by Debra Jo Rupp, and she did a fantastic job of it, which is why she is recognized now, more than 10 years after the show ended. Speaking of being recognized in public, she told The Los Angeles Times,
“And it's kind of great and lovely, but I don't look like Kitty Forman anymore. I'm older, and I don't have that wig on. But I'm [really] glad that she was a loved character.”
And if you were wondering whether her onscreen mirrors her real life in any way, well it does not.
Christina Hendricks has had many memorable roles, but in Mad Men, she played the character Joan Holloway, who was a hardworking single mom to her son. In real life, Hendricks is incredibly happy and married to Geoffrey Arend, but the couple does not want children, and she has been vocal about this.
She told The Times newspaper, "There were a lot of people who came and thanked me for saying it out loud, and I thought, 'Well isn't it sad, that we can't say it out loud?' I really don't understand the hullabaloo around it. There's people who have kids and people who don't have kids. We're the people who don't have kids."
Lily Tomlin has had a great professional life as an actress, and recently she has been on everyone’s radar for her comedic role in Grace and Frankie, opposite Jane Fonda.
She is a mom in the series, but Tomlin has never wanted to be a mom offscreen.
Not that it’s anyone’s business, but Tomlin has been asked why she never became a mom a few times, and she told The Guardian she simply never had the “aspiration.” She said, "I mean, sometimes I think it would be nice to have somebody who looks like a replica of you in some fashion, but I don’t think it ever was an aspiration of mine."
Renee Zellweger’s latest Bridget Jones movie was called Bridget Jones's Baby, and as the title would suggest, it involved her becoming a mom. But for Zellweger, motherhood is not something she has experienced. She told The Times (via People),
"Motherhood has never been an ambition. I don’t think like that. I never have expectations like, 'When I’m 19 I’m going to do this, and by the time I’ve hit 25 I’m going to do that'."
She also added, "I just take things as they come, each day at a time, and if things happen, all well and good. I just want to be independent and be able to take care of myself. Anything else is just gravy."
Justina Machado has been enjoying her role as Penelope Alvarez on the series, One Day at a Time. In the series, she is a hardworking nurse and mother to two daughters. But she has played many roles as a mother, some when she looked far too young to be one.
According to Vox, she said, “It doesn’t matter how old you are. You can look 2 and they’re gonna make you a mom. If you watch Six Feet Under, I was 27, 28 years old. I look like a baby. Freddy [Rodriguez] and I look like babies, but we had two kids. Even though that was one of the greatest shows…”
In Joy, Jennifer Lawrence took on the role of Joy Mangano, which follows the real-life story of a mom who made it big with her business idea (in part thanks to the fact that she got it featured on the home shopping network).
Lawrence is not a mom, and as she ages, the thought of having a child has become less appealing to her.
In an interview with E! News, she was asked whether she felt the “pangs” of motherhood, to which she responded, “Not at all. They are actually getting less and less as I get older, which is starting to worry me. I don’t think that’s how it’s supposed to work!”
Betty White is an onscreen legend, and she has enjoyed not just success but also longevity, with many memorable roles. One of the best characters she played was in the 2009 film, The Proposal, when she played Ryan Reynolds cool granny, Grandma Annie.
She is not a granny in real life and has never wanted children. She told CBS Sunday Morning (via Heavy), “I’ve never regretted it. I’m so compulsive about stuff. I know that if I had ever gotten pregnant, of course, that would’ve been my whole focus. But I didn’t choose to have children because I’m focused on my [acting] and I don’t think as compulsive as I am that I could manage both."
Cameron Diaz gave birth in the film, What to Expect When You're Expecting, but she is not expecting in real life. She spoke about children in an interview with Esquire magazine in 2014 (via Huffington Post), telling the publication,
"It's so much more work to have children. To have lives besides your own that you are responsible for - I didn't take that on. That did make things easier for me. A baby - that's all day, every day for eighteen years…”
She also admitted that although she does like “protecting people” she was just “never drawn to being a mother."
Helen Mirren played the role of Jason Statham's character’s mom in Fate of the Furious, but her busy life as an actress kept her from motherhood in her own life. She told Popcorn with Peter Travers (via Hello Giggles),
"I was always too engaged in my life as an actress. [...] At that time, I couldn't comprehend that you could incorporate a child into that without letting a child down in some way. It was never an absolute conscious decision, it was just, 'Oh, maybe next year, maybe next year,' until really there was no next year."
Allison Janney has played several memorable maternal roles, including in the series, Mom. However, she has no children, and this is not something she has any regrets over.
“I know what it feels like to love and care about things, but I’ve never had that instinct to have kids,” she told the New York Times (via Hollywood).
“There’s a friend of mine who just graduated from high school, and I was at her party with all these little kids, and she was like, ‘I can’t wait to have kids!’ At her age, I was thinking, ‘I can’t wait to have a dog’. I really am at peace with not being a mom.”
Not much is known about Jennifer Coolidge’s personal life because she seems to enjoy keeping it out of the limelight, what we do know her for, is the unforgettable role she took on when she played the role of a mother to the character Stifler (although her character probably wouldn’t have won mother of the year).
In real life, she doesn’t have children. Although, some of her onscreen character’s life is similar to her own, as she told USA Today (via Yahoo!) that she was grateful for the role, explaining,
“I don't know if life would be this fun if I didn't have that. As a single woman, I reap the benefits of being Stifler's mom."
Kim Cattrall has held multiple roles throughout her professional life and she’s nothing if not a diverse actress, but most recently she is playing the role of a young grandmother on the HBO series, Tell Me a Story. But this is not a title she holds offscreen, and Cattrall has spoken about children in an interview with Oprah.com. She said,
“Being a biological mother just isn't part of my experience this time around. However, I am a mother who continues to give birth to ideas and ways of experiencing life that challenge the norm."
"My foundation is me. I follow life's changes, continue with my time-outs, and remain curious about what's next,” she continued.
Eva Green played the particularly memorable role of Miss Peregrine on the Tim Burton film, Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children. Although none of the children in the film were her biological children, she was still a maternal figure for them, and according to The New Paper, she had this to say about her character: "She will be ready to sacrifice herself to defend her little creatures.”
Green is not a mother, but she is someone who has a very caring personality.
"One of my best friends always calls me Florence Nightingale," she said."I love helping people and it kind of makes me happy as well. Just, you know, to be kind."
Mean Girls has become a classic because of how hilarious, and at times, relatable, it is. You may remember that Amy Poehler played the role as Mrs. George, the mother to one of the main characters, Regina George (played by Rachel McAdams), and some (like MTV News) may go so far to say she was the best character in the film.
She may not have been a very relatable mother, but she was convincing in her role, despite not having children at the time.
She is now a proud mama to two kids, who she had with ex-husband, Will Arnett.
Jennifer Aniston is a woman who is constantly questioned about her personal life and whether or not she wants to start a family.
Why there is the expectation that she needs to do this is confusing, but it’s also something that really annoys Aniston.
She spoke about this during an appearance on The Today Show with Carson Daly, saying,"It is such an issue of, like, 'Are you married yet? Are you going to have your babies yet?' I don't have this sort of checklist of things that have to be done, and...if they're not checked, then I [haven't achieved] some part of my feminism or my being a woman or my worth and my value as a woman because I haven't birthed a child."
"I've birthed a lot of things, and I feel like I've mothered many things. And I don't feel like it's fair to put that pressure on people," she also added.
In Hollywood, actresses are often cast as the mother or grandmother in roles when in real life this would never be possible because of the close age gap. Lesley Fera had a 14 year age gap to the actress Troian Bellisario (aka Spencer Hastings) whose mom she played on Pretty Little Liars.
The character she played, Veronica Hastings, was not exactly a great mom, but Fera was asked if she felt paternal towards Bellisario in an interview with Cosmopolitan, to which she replied:
“I don't feel parental, per se. We are much more equal peers. We're mostly friends. She's got her act together, so I really never feel the need to step in or try and advise her because she's got a great head on her shoulders. She's very much an old soul.”