We’re not expecting Bob Odenkirk to succeed King Charles III on the throne, but the actor is indeed related to the British monarch, as he was surprised to find out on the January 30 episode of Finding Your Roots.
And dozens of other celebrities have been genealogically gobsmacked on the PBS show. Here are some of the biggest revelations from Finding Your Roots’ run so far — including one that threatened to end the show.
Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgwick are distant cousins.
Hollywood supercouple Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgwick were two of Finding Your Roots’ first guests, appearing on the show in 2012. And in that first-season episode, host Henry Louis Gates Jr. dropped the bombshell that the married actors are distant cousins. “So talk about six degrees of separation, right?” Gates quipped, per People.
Ben Affleck is descended from an enslaver (and tried to hide it).
PBS paused production on Finding Your Roots in 2015 after a Sony hack revealed that Ben Affleck had lobbied producers to omit mentions of an enslaver in his ancestry from his 2014 episode of the show, as The New York Times reported at the time.
Affleck later wrote in a Facebook post that he contacted Gates about the matter because he was “embarrassed” and “didn’t want any television show about [his] family to include a guy who owned slaves.”
Kerry Washington’s father was not her biological father.
It was only when Kerry Washington asked her parents for DNA samples for Finding Your Roots that they told her, in 2018, that the man she knows as her dad is not her biological father and that they had used a sperm donor for her conception.
“I’ve always had this weird disconnect with my dad, but I thought that was my fault,” the Scandal alum told The New York Times in 2023. “I thought I wasn’t a kind enough person. But the idea that I was not his never occurred to me. It was just, why can’t I be better to him? Why can’t we be closer? What’s wrong with me? What’s wrong with us?”
Edward Norton is directly descended from Pocahontas.
In Finding Your Roots’ 2023 ninth-season premiere, Gates confirmed lore from Edward Norton’s family, informing the Glass Onion actor that a paper trail proves that the famous Powhatan woman Pocahontas is his 12th great-grandmother. “It just makes you realize what a small piece of the whole human story you are,” an amazed Norton observed.
Through a direct paper trail leading to Pocahontas and John Rolfes’ 1614 marriage certificate, @EdwardNorton learns that his family lore appears to be true. His 12th great-grandmother is Pocohantas!
— Henry Louis Gates Jr (@HenryLouisGates) January 2, 2023
Julia Roberts is not actually a Roberts.
In that same episode, Gates told Julia Roberts that a man named Willis R. Roberts, whom the movie star thought was her great-great-grandfather, couldn’t have been her great-grandfather’s father. Instead, her actual great-grandfather is Henry McDonald Mitchell Jr. “So we’re Mitchells?” Roberts replied, amazed. “Wow. Is my head on straight still?”
Billy Crudup and Terry Crews are distant cousins.
Billy Crudup, star of The Morning Show, learned in a 2023 episode of Finding Your Roots that he and Brooklyn Nine-Nine alum Terry Crews are distant cousins.
Months later, the two Hollywood actors met for “one of the most satisfying, wonderful afternoons I’ve ever spent,” Crews told TODAY.com. “The fact that we are blood relatives, to me, is a statement about what America is. It’s also a statement about humanity. Because we all think, you know, he’s white, I’m Black. But the reality is we are true blood relatives.”
Valerie Bertinelli’s grandfather had a secret family.
In a 2024 episode, Valerie Bertinelli realized that her paternal grandfather was once married to a woman in Italy who was not the One Day at a Time star’s paternal grandmother — and that he had a son with that woman, per People. That son, Ernesto, even tried to contact his American relatives in 2004.
Bob Odenkirk and King Charles III are eleventh cousins.
Odenkirk told Gates in the January 30 episode of Finding Your Roots that he doesn’t believe the U.K. should have a monarchy. But when the host revealed that Odenkirk is an 11th cousin of King Charles III, the Better Call Saul star burst out laughing and said he may change his mind on the matter.
Tracy Morgan and Nas aren’t just friends; they’re third cousins.
While filming an upcoming episode of Finding Your Roots, Tracy Morgan discovered that he and Nas, a longtime friend of his, are third cousins on his mother’s side, as he revealed on the Connect the Dots podcast in December 2023.
After filming the show, Morgan called the rapper and delivered the news. “He started crying, I started crying,” the 30 Rock actor recalled. “And I said to him, ‘If you ever need me, I’m there, cuz.’ He said, ‘Cuz, if you ever need me, I’m there.’”