It’s surprising just how many actors have tried their hands at directing. Most make one or two pet projects and than slink back to the day job (Ahem, Tom Hanks’ Larry Crowne… I say no more!), whilst others carve out an interesting second career behind the camera.
Below is what I feel are the top 10 actors turned directors….
10. Paddy Considine
It might be risky starting this list with a director with only one feature film under his belt, but when that film is 2011’s Tyrannosaur, it is entirely justified. Building on his superb Bafta award winning short film Dog Altogether, Tyrannosaur is an incredibly emotional watch. Considine lets his camera stand back and devotes the film to his cast, which includes Peter Mullen in a career best turn and revelation Olivia Coleman.
What’s next: Nothing on the radar just yet, but hopefully we wont have to wait to long!
9. Ron Howard
Films: Splash, Apollo 13, A Beautiful Mind, Cinderella Man, The Da Vinci Code, Angels & Demons, Frost/Nixon.
Ron Howard is a safe pair of hands; you give him a camera crew, some actors and a solid script, he’ll get the job done. Howard has been an integral part of Hollywood for the past 30 years, and has even managed to eclipse his breakthrough role as Richie Cunningham on 70’s TV show Happy Days. Yes, he has had a couple of misses (The Dilemma was a real stinker) but work such as Apollo 13 has cemented his position as a major filmmaker.
What’s next: F1 feature Rush.
8. Peter Mullen
Films: The Magdalene Sisters, NEDS.
He has already made an appearance on this list as an actor, but Mullen’s achievements also lay as a film director. Like Considine, Mullen is very much an ‘actors director’; he works well with ensemble casts and slowly draws performances out from his actors. I can’t imaging anyone else making films about the same subjects that interest Mullen, which is why we’re lucky to have him!
What’s next: It took Mullen 8 years to direct his third feature NEDS, so don’t expect anything soon!
7. Ben Affleck
Films: Gone Baby Gone, The Town.
In Ben Affleck’s case, some actors may find that their talents really lay behind the camera. With only two films under his belt it may be slightly premature to make a career prediction, but we could well have another Ron Howard in the making here. Gone Baby Gone was a nice character piece and gave his brother Casey his best screen role to date, but it was with his 2010 feature The Town that Affleck cemented his talent in the director’s chair.
What’s next: Political thriller Argo.
6. Kenneth Branagh
Films: Henry V, Peter’s Friends, Sleuth, Thor.
Branagh not only directed his first feature, Henry V, in 1989 but also wrote the script and starred in the film; this was a man with ambition! Since than he has worked across a wide number of genre’s, including thriller, comedy, action and a wealth of Shakespeare adaptations.
What’s Next: Branagh is rumoured to direct a Jack Ryan film starring Chris Pine.
5. Robert Redford
Films: Ordinary People, Quiz Show, Lion’s for Lambs.
I can’t foresee many of today’s contemporary film stars directing a feature debut as powerful and emotional as Ordinary People. I have not been a great fan of most of his work since, but his Redford should be commended for his work with American Independent film at Sundance.
What’s next: Thriller The Company You Keep
4. George Clooney
Films: Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, Good Night and Good Luck, The Ides of March.
Whilst some actors choose to run both directing and acting careers concurrently I could easily see George Clooney focusing on directing in the second half of his career. Although I really enjoyed his debut Confessions of a Dangerous Mind it did feel like a kooky side project, since than though Clooney has found his niece in political drama and become an Oscar worthy director.
What’s Next: Nothing yet, but don’t except Clooney to wait around for long.
3. Clint Eastwood
Films: Bird, Mystic River, Millions Dollar Baby, Gran Torino.
No figure has had such a large impact on American cinema in the last 60 years as Clint Eastwood; both behind and in front of the camera he has been integral to the shaping of American film. Eastwood’s films are traditional and generally he directs dramatic pieces, although he has dabbled in action and comedy. Now in his 80’s he still works at a pace of nearly 1 film per year, and has no signs of slowing down anytime soon!
What’s next: No directing gigs lined up yet, but he is starring in Trouble With the Curve later this year.
2. Woody Allen
Films: Annie Hall, Manhattan, Husbands and Wife’s, Match Point, Midnight in Paris.
Okay this may seem a bit like cheating since Allen was primarily known as a comic before his 1966 directorial debut What’s up, Tiger lily? But he had acting in a few films, and well known as a comic performer. Can any film fan see the New York without immediately thinking of Manhattan? Working at the rate of 1 feature a year since the early 70’s his back catalogue is varied (in both terms both of subject and quality) but a late career renaissance has brought Allen back into the limelight.
What’s next: Ensemble comedy To Rome with love, released later this year.
1. Charlie Chaplin
Films: The Kid, The Gold Rush, City Lights, Modern Times, The Great Dictator.
And finally at no.1 it’s not only the greatest actor turned director, but maybe the greatest film director of all time. Charlie Chaplin’s films changed cinematic language and made huge advances in plotting, pace and editing. Most of his work is as hilarious, moving and touching today as it was nearly 100 years ago.
What’s next: Nothing, since Charlie Chaplin passed away in 1977.
Have I made any glaring emissions to this list? Get back to us with you’re your suggestions.
This article was first posted on May 2, 2012