Ansel Elgort’s Famous Father Has More A-List Connections in Hollywood Than the ‘Tokyo Vice’ Actor

Ansel Elgort showed promise as a leading man for the next generation of Hollywood actors. His early movies established him as a bankable star who could easily appear in franchise fare and original IP.

Elgort appeared to have a bright career ahead of him, but multiple allegations of sexual assault have thrown his veracity as an actor into doubt. The Fault in Our Stars actor has slowly begun his comeback, making public appearances again after a year in hiding. 

It probably helps his prospects that his parents are both highly regarded in different parts of the entertainment industry. There’s no better broom to sweep a scandal under the rug than nepotism.

Ansel Elgort was a star on the rise before sexual assault allegations threw his future into question

Growing up in New York City, Elgort attended The Professional Performing Arts School and Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School, taking his first acting classes at the age of 12. He made his film debut in 2013 in the remake of Carrie. Then he broke out as a leading man the next year in Divergent and The Fault in Our Stars.  

Baby Driver represented a different type of success. The movie was an increasingly rare phenomenon as a box office hit that wasn’t based on a pre-existing universe. It also showed that Elgort’s stardom translated to movies not aimed at a YA audience. 

Elgort’s immediate work after Baby Driver failed to gain traction. But he had enough goodwill in the bank to get more chances. That seems much less likely after he was accused of being a sexual predator. In 2020, a Twitter user accused Elgort of assaulting her in 2014 when she was 17 years old. Other users came forward alleging the actor of creepy behavior toward underage girls. (Vulture published an in-depth report.)

The people reportedly hurt by Elgort’s actions are the biggest victims of all. Additionally, productions involving Elgort faced an awkward situation. Steven Spielberg already wrapped West Side Story when the allegations came out. Still, the timing forced the studio to attempt to put together an Oscars campaign for the movie while mentioning the movie’s male lead as little as possible. 

The HBO Max show Tokyo Vice, which Elgort stars in, was in the middle of shooting at the time. The show received good reviews, but it’s tough to watch when Elgort is at the center of the frame. 

Ansel Elgort’s parents have friends in very high places

Grethe Barrett Holby, actor Ansel Elgort, Arthur Elgort, Warren Elgort and Sophie Elgort attend the "Allegiant" New York premiere in 2016
Ansel Elgort with his mother Grethe Barrett Holby, father Arthur Elgort, and siblings Warren Elgort and Sophie Elgort in 2016 | Michael Stewart/Getty Images

When an actor suddenly pops up in mainstream roles early in their career, the likely story is that their parents are rich or attached to the industry. In Elgort’s case, it’s all of the above.

The Goldfinch actor’s father, Arthur Elgort, is a renowned fashion photographer. Mostly known for his work with Vogue magazine, he has also worked for Glamour, GQ, Rolling Stone, and Teen Vogue. Arthur’s expertise was eventually sought by upscale fashion labels Chanel, Valentino, and Yves Saint Laurent for their advertising campaigns. 

Arthur has released eight books — Camera Ready: How to Shoot Your Kids features an infant Ansel — and two documentaries in the mid-’90s. You can see some of his work for yourself on his website

Ansel’s mother is equally respected in her field. Grethe Barrett Holby is a stage director and choreographer who primarily works in the world of opera. She is the founder of American Opera Projects in 1988, Family Opera Initiative in 1995, and Ardea Arts in 2006. Holby left American Opera Projects in 2001. But she is still the executive artistic director of the latter two opera companies. (You can read more about her here.)

Holby has worked with several theater luminaries in her career, serving as associate director and choreographer for Leonard Bernstein’s A Quiet Place and the 1988 Michael Kaye version of Offenbach’s Tales of Hoffman starring Placido Domingo. Holby also performed a dance piece, “Beta Hookups,” to Lou Reed’s Metal Machine Music, which Reed filmed himself.  

With connections like that, it makes sense that Ansel is becoming more of a public figure again. He did some press for West Side Story during the awards cycle. Recently, fans spotted Ansel in photos of Britney Spears’ wedding reception. Tokyo Vice was also renewed for a second season. 

Nepotism is an inevitable byproduct of Hollywood success

You don’t have to look far to find other examples of successful actors with parents who are also well-known entertainers. Zoë Kravitz, Elizabeth Olsen, and Sam Levinson are some of the most obvious examples in modern pop culture. 

It can be disheartening to be reminded that luck and connections play a huge role in who makes it in a creative field. Just getting in front of the right producer or talent agency at the right time is a skill unto itself. 

More opportunities need to be given to people from different backgrounds. It would lead to a wider and more interesting range of stories. But getting rid of nepotism entirely is impossible. And think about it from the perspective of these famous parents. If your kid dreams of becoming an artist and you can help them reach that dream, it’d be hard not to leverage your celebrity.

In some form, nepotism will always be a possible result of fame and power. We just have to hope that the beneficiaries of that privilege also have the talent to make good on their situation. 

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