5 Great Actors-Turned-Directors
It takes great skill to become a prolific actor, just as it takes great skill to become a successful film director. Only a handful of extremely talented people are capable enough to move from the front of the camera to behind it. For this list, I’ll be taking a look at five terrific actors who also proved their talents in the director’s chair. This list is primarily focused on people most known for their acting, who went on to direct; while Woody Allen and Orson Welles are terrific actors, they’re definitely most famous for their work behind the lens
1. Clint Eastwood
Perhaps the most famous actor-turned-director in history, Eastwood first made his name in Sergio Leone’s spaghetti western trilogy, before starring as maverick cop Harry Callahan in the Dirty Harry series.
Making his directorial debut in 1971 with Play Misty For Me, Eastwood has since won the Academy Award for Best Director twice, for brutal western Unforgiven and boxing weepie Million Dollar Baby. He continues to regularly release features, earning a Best Picture nomination in 2014 for war biopic American Sniper.
2. Joel Edgerton
While not particularly well known to mainstream audiences, Australian Joel Edgerton has proven himself as a versatile star of independent cinema, stealing the show in everything from drag queen comedy Kinky Boots to MMA drama Warrior and cult gangster flick Animal Kingdom.
In 2015, Edgerton wrote, directed, and starred in creepy psychological thriller The Gift, one of the most impressively written and performed films of the year. A critical and commercial triumph, The Gift announced Edgerton as a major directorial talent and one to watch.
3. Ben Affleck
Despite mainstream breakthrough Good Will Hunting being a big awards and box office success, Affleck became something a joke in the early 00’s with a string of terrible films (Pearl Harbour, Surviving Christmas, Gigli) and an infamous partnership with Jennifer Lopez.
He changed all that in 2007 with classy debut Gone Baby Gone, a gritty mystery that somewhat redeemed him in the eyes of moviegoers. He fully redeemed himself with his next two features, heist thriller The Town and Best Picture winner Argo, both of which he also starred in. Keep your eye out for his next project, a new Batman film due out in the near future.
4. Paddy Considine
After spending a decade establishing himself as one of Britain’s finest character actors (best known for his awards winning performance in Dead Man’s Shoes or his hilarious turn in Hot Fuzz), Considine won a BAFTA for Best Short Film with grim alcoholism drama Dog Altogether.
Expanding it to feature length, and casting the talented Peter Mullan and Olivia Colman in the leading roles, Considine released Tyrannosaur in 2011 to huge critical acclaim and another BAFTA, this time for Outstanding British Debut. After a long six year wait, Considine is currently directing and starring in his second feature, boxing drama Journeyman.
5. George Clooney
Since 1998’s Out Of Sight, George Clooney has been the biggest star on the planet. Conquering the acting world, he starred in blockbusters and indie fare alike, earning three Best Actor nominations and the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for 2006’s Syriana. It’s not surprising therefore to learn that since 2002’s Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, he’s been conquering the directing world as well.
While his films haven’t always been great (Leatherheads and The Monuments Men have already been forgotten by time), he earned a Best Director nomination for 2007’s Good Night, and Good Luck, and released The Ides of March in 2011 to critical acclaim. His next film, the Coen Brothers-scripted Suburbicon, looks set to be another triumph.
By Harry J. Ford
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- Posted in: Lists
- Tagged: academy awards, actors turned directors, american sniper, argo, batman, ben affleck, best actor, best director, best picture, clint eastwood, george clooney, joel edgerton, journeyman, million dollar baby, paddy considine, suburbicon, the gift, the ides of march, tyrannosaur