Emma Roberts followed her famous father’s footsteps into acting
Emma Roberts comes from quite the famous family.
The American Horror Story star is the daughter of prolific actor Eric Roberts and Kelly Cunningham, who welcomed her on Feb. 10, 1991, before splitting months later.
On the other hand, Emma sings her mom’s praises every chance she gets. For her mom’s birthday in October 2022, Emma gushed about her “bestie” and “queen” Cunningham, saying she’s “the best mama and mims anybody could ask for. I love you so much.”
Here’s everything to know about Emma Roberts’ parents, Eric Roberts and Kelly Cunningham.
Eric and Cunningham split shortly after Emma’s birth
Eric and Cunningham never married, but they were living together in New York when they welcomed their first child on Feb. 10, 1991. The pair began dating in 1988, and broke up shortly after having the Scream Queens actress together in 1991.
The next year, Eric married actress Eliza Garrett. Eric told Howard Stern in 1994 that he met her on an MGM Grand Air plane flying from New York to Los Angeles.
“I was in another relationship at the time,” he said. “I’m reading a script, she’s reading a script, I tell her who my favorite writer is, the names' David Rayfield … he just happens to be her father.” While the pair met years before, they maintained a friendship until Eric was single. “We didn’t start kissing until 1991 and we got married in ‘92,” he said.
For her part, Cunningham married and later divorced American bassist Kelly Nickels, with whom she welcomed Emma’s half-sister, Grace Nickels. Cunningham has been very private about her relationships, instead using social media to highlight her children.
Eric is a prolific actor
Emma’s family is full of talented people, including her father, who has been in more than 700 TV shows, films and music videos. He first appeared on TV in 1974's How to Survive a Marriage, and on film in 1998’s King of the Gypsies, which earned him a Golden Globe nom. He’s since appeared in the music video for “Mr. Brightside” by The Killers, 2008’s The Dark Knight, Heroes, The Young and the Restless, Suits, Runaway Train, Babylon and many more.
"We get anywhere from eight to 30 offers every single day from all over the world," Eric told The Hollywood Reporter of his never-ending stream of acting work. "It's just so much fun to have all these offers and get to play such an extreme range of characters."
Eric loves acting, and works 200 days per year. “I can get an offer on Friday to come on the Saturday,” he said. “You have to be prepared to learn your lines very quickly. And you know what, every time it's fun.”
Despite their shared profession, Eric has said he "never" talks to his daughter about their work. “We have never discussed it since she was 9 years old,” he said. “We have a whole other relationship. I don’t want to be too sappy but I’m head over heels in love with the whole thing.”
Eric’s younger sister is actress Julia Roberts
Eric’s parents are actors and playwrights Betty Lou Bredemus and Walter Grady Roberts, who welcomed Eric in 1956. The family later grew with the addition of Eric's two sisters, actresses Lisa Roberts Gillan and Julia Roberts, born in 1965 and 1967, respectively.
“I was crazy about my sisters. Loved them, adored them," he told Vanity Fair in 2018. "They were precious to me, and we had times of great closeness.”
Emma has said spending time on set with her aunt Julia while she was filming hits like Erin Brockovich inspired her to get into acting. "I never aspired to be her,” she explained to Tatler in 2022. “I love her so much, I love her work, but I'm just doing my own thing."
Eric is very proud of Emma’s acting career
Even though they don’t talk much about it, Eric is still very proud that his daughter took after him in the industry.
“[Watching her has been] so much fun,” he told Hollywood Reporter. "And she's never had any training, so she's been on-the-job training her whole career, and it's been lovely for me to watch her become an actor, and she has. I love her work."
Specifically, Eric’s favorite projects of Emma’s are We’re the Millers and American Horror Story. “I love [AHS], I love that series, of course I do,” he told the Behind the Velvet Rope podcast in 2022. “[Those are] my two favorites.”
When asked if he would be interested in doing a film where Emma plays his daughter, he told THR, “Are you kidding? I would love that!"
While Eric often speaks highly of his daughter, Emma tends to stay more private about their relationship. They haven’t been photographed together since she was a child, and she doesn’t talk about him in interviews or post anything about him on social media the way she does her mother.
For his part, Eric gushes about Emma whenever he gets the chance, including a sweet Instagram post he shared for her 32nd birthday. “The love on my face, even in profile, for her is undeniable,” he wrote alongside a throwback photo with Emma as a kid. “I knew she'd grow up to be all that and more. One of the rare things I was right about. I love you, Emma.”
Emma is extremely close with her mother
While speaking to PEOPLE about being a mom to her son Rhodes in January 2023, Emma praised her own mother for the support she's given her daughter.
"I'm so lucky my mom helps me a lot," she said. "I would die without my mom."
When Jamie Lee Curtis, interviewing Emma for Violet Grey in 2021, asked the actress who inspires her most, she shouted out her mom. "Especially after having a baby," she said, "I kiss the ground she walks on!"
For Mother’s Day 2022, Emma shared a sweet Instagram tribute to her mom, thanking her for “teaching her how to be” a parent herself. And for her birthday in 2022, Emma called her “the best mom anyone could ask for,” adding that she’s “Always up for an adventure. Always answers the phone in the middle of the night. & nobody makes me laugh as hard as you do Mommy!”
Cunningham’s own Instagram is full of photos and videos with and about Emma, shouting out her projects and supporting her at events like the Dolce & Gabbana Alta Moda fashion show in 2022.
Cunningham accidentally spilled the beans on Emma’s pregnancy
Emma became a mom when she welcomed her son Rhodes Robert Hedlund on Dec. 27, 2020. While she wanted to keep her pregnancy private, her mom shared the news a little prematurely. "I was keeping my pregnancy pretty low-key, but unfortunately my mother has Instagram," Emma told Jimmy Kimmel. "She spilled the beans."
When fans began speculating about Emma’s baby bump, they messaged her mom to send congratulations on the happy news. Cunningham responded by thanking them and sharing her excitement, in turn confirming the pregnancy against Emma's wishes.
"It was a disaster, and I found it all out on a plane so I couldn't get to her, I couldn't call her or attack her," she continued. "I could just iMessage with her and DMed her and ask her to please stop."
"When I said to her, 'Mom you revealed my pregnancy,' she goes, 'Emma, you announced it.' ” Emma explained. “And I said, 'No I didn't, that was a tabloid.' She was like, 'Oh, that wasn't clear.' "
Cunningham also posted a photo of Rhodes’ face while Emma planned to keep him off social media. Luckily, Emma has a good sense of humor about the situation, even poking fun at her mom on Instagram.
“When your mom posts your son's face without asking but you love them both so whatever 💖," Emma wrote. Teasing back, Cunningham posted, “The battle continues!!"
Eric and Cunningham both love being grandparents
Cunningham is crazy about her grandson and loves posting photos of him while spending time together. “I love this little guy so much. Pure joy,” she wrote beside a sweet April 2022 snap. Emma has called her mom “the best mims ever” to Rhodes.
Meanwhile, Eric is “a two-time grandfather” now after the birth of Rhodes and his step-daughter’s daughter. “[Being a grandparent] is weird,” he told Reel Talker. “It’s like you get up on Christmas morning and you have all these gifts. But you don’t know what they are, they’re all wrapped. You have this little bitty person, you don’t know what it’s going to be, but it’s a gift.”
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