When Actors Direct

Our List of the Most Interesting Actors Turned Directors
They’ve watched the masters of direction on set, they’ve studied their techniques, they’ve watched them multi-task and make 1,000 decisions every day... now they want a piece of the action. Read on, for our list of the finest actors turned directors. 

Ben Affleck

He’s a director of gritty, raw and uncompromising tales - Gone Baby Gone The Town and Argo, which took out Best Picture at the Oscars. Now Affleck turns the heat up even further with Live By Night, which he also stars in. Set during prohibition era, it’s the dark and deadly story about the son of a Boston police chief who turns to a life of crime, first as a bootlegger, then becoming a notorious gangster. Star of Live By Night Sienna Miller had only praise for the director, “I think Ben makes movies that are entertaining and have soul at the same time, and as a director he made me feel that he believed in me and had my back. I don’t think I have ever been on a happier set.” Live By Night comes with a 95% ‘want to see’ score on Rotten Tomatoes, so anticipation is high.

Bradley Cooper

For a first-time director, Bradley Cooper is making a serious impact. A remake of the 1954 film of the same name, A Star Is Born stars Cooper as Jackson Maine, a singer whose relationship with Ally (Lady Gaga) begins to buckle when her career begins to overshadow his. Cooper doesn’t do anything by halves, either – he and Gaga wrote and produced all the songs together, and he went through 18 months of vocal training to get ready. A Star Is Born premiered at the Venice International Film Festival to critical acclaim and an eight-minute standing ovation. Heck of a way to kick off your directing career, Brad!

Clint Eastwood

Eastwood is the most prolific and successful actor turned director- debuting with 1971’s Play Misty for Me. He’s done comedy (Bronco Billy), romance (The Bridges of Madison County), historical dramas (Flags of our Fathers, Letters from Iwo Jima, Changeling, Invictus), politics (Absolute Power, J. Edgar) and of course, westerns- for which he’s won Oscars for Best Director and Best Picture (Unforgiven). 

His film Sully starring Tom Hanks is based on a true story of the pilot who miraculously landed his plane on the Hudson River in New York, saving the lives of all the passengers. A smash hit in the box office, Eastwood and Hanks have been called a dream team by Rolling Stone. Here’s hoping for more film collaborations from these cinema titans.

George Clooney

Our George may have had his start in soaps, but his aspirations and intellect have always been on a higher plain. So when George directs a movie, it’s not going to be a fluff piece. His heavyweight canon includes Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, Good Night and Good Luck, Leatherheads, Ides of March, The Monuments Men and Suburbicon, penned by the Coen brothers. 
On top of the accolades for his acting achievements, Clooney has been celebrated for his directing as well, garnering a Golden Globe nomination for Best Director, Motion Picture for The Ides of March. This talented multi-disciplinarian has also received several Oscar nominations for his writing (The Ides of March, Good Night and Good Luck) and even took one home for his producing work (Argo).

John Krasinski

John Krasinski is one of Hollywood’s most relatable, hard-working, talented and down to earth stars. He got his first big break in the US version of The Office - where he played sardonic nice guy Jim Halpert. Krasinski then surprised everyone and took the director’s chair for the acclaimed ensemble drama The Hollars. The performances of the entire cast – including Richard Jenkins, Margo Martindale and Anna Kendrick - are exemplary which just re-affirms the notion that actors have the inherent ability to direct other actors.

Mel Gibson

Mad Mel is very serious when it comes to directing- his latest Hacksaw Ridge is on everyone’s list as one of the best films of the year and it has serious awards buzz surrounding it.  But his other notable efforts also include The Passion of the Christ, Apocalypto and Braveheart, which one 5 Oscars including Best Picture and Best Director.
Looks like Mel has returned to the lights of Hollywood thanks to what many consider a modern day masterpiece in Hacksaw Ridge.

Angelina Jolie

Angelina and her brood made Sydney their home while she crafted her directorial debut –Unbroken - the harrowing WW11 true story of survival based on the life of Olympian Louis Zamperini. The actors and crew have said in interviews that Jolie was a calm, clever, empathetic, astute director, delicately handling her cast of mainly young actors. As brilliant and committed an actor that she is, Jolie has also proved she has an eye for directing stories of exceptional emotional power and depth.

Joel Edgerton

Finally an Aussie on the list! Not just any Aussie – one of our hero actors. Edgerton has been slowly but surely building one of the most interesting acting portfolios working internationally. He might look rock solid but Edgerton has more layers than an onion and his characters always have something deep and conflicted going on behind the eyes. So it’s no surprise that when he decides to write and direct a film, it’s going to be fascinating. A totally original and ‘can’t-guess-what’s-going-to-happen-next’ thriller, The Gift delivers on all levels and we can’t wait for him to helm another one. 

The list goes on...

Ron Howard (Apollo 13), Penny Marshall (Big), Sean Penn (Mystic River), Robert Redford (A River Runs Through it), Sylvester Stallone (The Expendables), Ben Stiller (Zoolander), Gary Oldman (Nil by Mouth), Jack Nicholson (The Two Jakes), Tim Robbins (Bob Roberts), Danny DeVito (Throw Momma from the Train), Bill Bob Thornton (Sling Blade), Julie Delpy (2 Days in Paris)... have we missed any on your hot-list?  Let us know.

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