Talented moviemaking progeny seem to have become a commonplace sight among the Hollywood ranks—Michael Douglas, Charlie Sheen, Emilio Estevez, and more recently Jaden Smith have all carried on their families’ film legacies—but somehow Nick Cassavetes stands out. Perhaps it’s because he’s the son of John Cassavetes and Gena Rowlands, and is therefore bred of great artistic talent on both sides. Or maybe his cinematic vision is just that good.

Last January the writer-director watched his latest movie, Alpha Dog (which opened on January 12), close the Sundance Film Festival. As the lights went down on Park City, this little film (starring some big names—Sharon Stone, Bruce Willis, Justin Timberlake and Emile Hirsch among them) seemed to have generated the most buzz. Cassavetes wrote and directed this take on the true story of Jesse James Hollywood, a notorious young drug dealer who made the FBI’s “Most Wanted” list at the tender age of 20.

Cassavetes had minor success as an actor (see Face/Off and The Astronaut’s Wife) before moving on to directing (including his father’s screenplay, She’s So Lovely, and The Notebook, in which his mother starred). More recently, Cassavetes has moved on to penning the films Blow and Whatever We Do before starting work on the controversial Alpha Dog (Cassavetes was given access to the Hollywood case files while the trial was still pending). Next up for the writer-director is God is a Bullet, which follows one cop’s attempt to take down a dangerous cult, with the assistance of a former member of the organization.  The film is currently in production, but is slated for a 2007 release.

Check out www.alphadogmovie.com for more information on Cassevetes’ latest flick.

Sound Off: Although Nick Cassavetes has made it in Hollywood largely on his own merit, he is an undeniable part of the Cassavetes dynasty. What Hollywood dynasties do you see as being under-appreciated? Which are most talented? The least? Talk back in the comments section.