Surprise! 'American Hustle' Costars Jennifer Lawrence and Jeremy Renner Are Related

Jeremy Renner and Jennifer Lawrence are cousins, and their common ancestor is Kentucky farmer Robert Tague

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Jennifer Lawrence and Jeremy Renner aren’t just American Hustle costars, they’re family – literally!

After looking into the family lineage of both stars, the research team at Ancestry discovered that Lawrence, 25, and Renner, 44, are 5th cousins, once removed, PEOPLE has learned exclusively.

“The discovery of the connection between Jennifer Lawrence and Jeremy Renner was complete happenstance,” Michelle Ercanbrack, a family historian at Ancestry, tells PEOPLE.

It all began when researchers started looking into the cast of The Hunger Games, thinking that perhaps there would be a connection between Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson, as they “both have deep Kentucky roots.”

While they didn’t find any relation, they made sure to keep files on their family trees.

“Later, we were researching Jeremy Renner and noticed he had a Tague family line from Kentucky, which looked familiar. Once we realized Jennifer Lawrence had the same family in her tree, finding the relationship between the two was not only quick, it was really close,” says Ercanbrack.

Renner and Lawrence’s common ancestor is Kentucky farmer Robert Tague. According to Ercanbrack, Tague is Lawrence’s 5th great-grandfather and Renner’s 4th (Once removed just means that Lawrence is a generation younger than Renner).

Ercanbrack says finding a connection this close between the stars was shocking even to the research team.

“With how closely Jennifer Lawrence and Jeremy Renner are related, we’re surprised they haven’t bumped into each other at a family reunion,” she joked.

Ercanbrack also points to their acting careers to show just how deep their connection runs. Renner and Lawrence have ancestors that fought in the American Revolutionary War, and both stars have played strong fighters in The Hunger Games and Avengers: Age of Ultron.

“The similarities between the two are striking: both have deep Kentucky roots, both are parts of wildly successful franchises, and both play family-oriented, freedom-fighting archers,” she says.

While Ancestry did not find a connection between Lawrence and Hutcherson, there were similarities between them and their Hunger Games counterparts. In the franchise, the pair live in District 12 – aka the coal mining district – and in real life the Bluegrass State is rich in coal mines.

They also found parallels between Lawrence’s historical ties and the life of Katniss Everdeen.

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“There is something timeless and globally appealing about Katniss: She is modern fiction’s Joan of Arc,” says Ercanbrack. “That Jennifer Lawrence has direct ties to other revolutionaries in history makes you wonder if her ability to channel and portray fighters is something she’s inherited.”

Regarding both Lawrence and Renner, Ercanbrack points out “it just goes to show how meaningfully the past can inform anyone’s present.”

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