Jane Fonda's handsome son, Troy Garity, has inherited more than just showbiz genes. Born to provocative peaceniks from the Vietnam era, the actor's passion for social justice is also his legacy. While his mother earned the nickname "Hanoi Jane" for her liberal activism back in those days, dad Tom Hayden was on trial with the radical Chicago Seven. (He's since earned a distinguished reputation in politics as a California state senator.)

"Growing up, I knew that my parents had a good deal of notoriety and often evoked strong emotions from people," says Garity, who co-stars in the screwball comedy Bandits (opening Friday). "But for every person who threw a stone at our house, probably five people came by and gave a hug."

In the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Garity yearns for a similar pacifist spirit to play a role in world events. "I hope and pray we can find an intelligent solution and not retaliate for the sake of pride," he asserts. "I'd like to be able to go over [to Afghanistan] and talk to people. It's really sad that the world can harbor such misery. At what point do we evolve?"

Perhaps wary of controversy, Garity declines to act as a mouthpiece for his famous folks' current political opinions. Still, he did end up speaking for his father when he portrayed Hayden in last year's Abbie Hoffman biopic, Steal This Movie. "It was a brief role, but it was a real honor," he says. "When I was doing the scene in the courtroom [where he is] on trial for conspiracy, it really hit me what a pivotal moment that was in regard to my life. If my father had been found guilty, I wouldn't be here right now."

Since Movie, Garity jokes that his mom has been demanding equal screen time. "She asked when I was going to play her," he quips. "But I'm not in good enough shape!"