8 Actors You Didn't Know Secretly Directed Films

Edward Norton loves the directing process... even when he's just meant to be acting.

Tom Cruise The Mummy
Universal Pictures

"Ghost Directing" is an odd phenomenon in Hollywood. It's a strange case of being a very common, often vital act within the industry that no one likes to actually acknowledge.

After all, it would meddle with the auteur image somewhat if someone else on set could just sit in the director's chair when mister big shot is getting uppity and drag the production those last crucial days over the finish line.

Oh and Heaven forbid if an ACTOR got it into their heads they could do that.

So yeah, a lot of actors like to do just that. It's actually way more common than most would have you believe.

Whether credited or not, there are tons of films out there attributed to one director's vision while being hijacked at some point by either one of the actors on set or another director who also just happens to be an active screen actor when they aren't directing.

Either way, so long as the film started with a full director, but then got secretly shanghaied by an actor along the way, it counts for this list.

8. Edward Norton - American History X

Tom Cruise The Mummy
New Line Cinema

Tony Kaye is best known for two things. One: the late nineties drama, American History X, and two; how hard he was to work with during production of late nineties drama, American History X.

It got so bad that New Line Cinema, desperate to get the film done on time for its August 1998 release date, contacted the film's lead, Edward Norton, who had experience in film editing, to put the last finishing touches on the movie. Rumor has it they even had to lock Kaye out of the editing room to make sure it actually got done.

Now, that last part is technically allegation, but it would certainly explain why Kaye proceeded to complain to the DGA to remove his name from the film's credits entirely. It also helps to explain why New Line had to reach out to the film's leading man to make sure the film was actually completed on time for its 1998 release.

There was at one point a director's cut of the movie, but that original version is considered lost to Hollywood history.

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John Tibbetts is a novelist in theory, a Whatculture contributor in practice, and a nerd all around who loves talking about movies, TV, anime, and video games more than he loves breathing. Which might be a problem in the long term, but eh, who can think that far ahead?