By People Staff
August 13, 2001 12:00 PM

As a kid growing up in Hollywood, Oz Perkins knew all about singing for his supper. He and his younger brother Elvis—the sons of Psycho star Anthony Perkins and his wife, Berry Berenson, 53—”would put on plays and circus acts for dinner guests like Clint Eastwood and Joan Collins,” recalls Perkins, 27.

He’s still playing to rapt audiences, currently as Reese Witherspoon‘s nerdy pal David in the hit flick Legally Blonde. “He does smart comedy,” says director Robert Luketic. “It’s so instinctive to him.” Indeed, Perkins inherited more than his father’s intense gaze. The resemblance scored him a role as a young Norman Bates in 1983’s Psycho II. When he was a teen, his talents made him the toast of the Harvard-Westlake School drama club. Not that acting was always his career goal. “I knew my dad as a guy trying to get work,” says Perkins, who was born after his father’s fame peaked. “So it didn’t seem so glorious.”

When his father died of complications from AIDS in 1992, “I got really spun around,” Perkins says. He earned a B.A. in English from New York University, then returned to Hollywood in 1999, moving into a two-bedroom duplex with his wife, yoga instructor Sidney, 27. Now Perkins is focusing on both the family business and the business of starting a family. “I really care about having children,” he says. “I want to give them a fair shot in this world.” Just like his dad gave him.