While most actors like to focus wholeheartedly on their craft, there are a few over the years who have moved behind the camera to also successfully explore the director’s chair. However, there are a few instances when the filmmaker is not only manning the camera but starring in front of it as well.
Fans of classic movie stars like Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton are no strangers to stars who also direct, and Orson Welles has made history with both his film acting and directorial debut in Citizen Kane. So today, it’s worth taking a closer look at a few other actors who’ve directed their own movies, which has become an ongoing trend for a few of the following filmmakers.
10 Danny Devito Has Starred In & Directed A Few Movies Like Matilda
Comedic actor Danny Devito quickly made a name for himself behind the camera with movies like 1987’s dark comedy Throw Momma From The Train, his directorial debut which he also starred in with Billy Crystal. He followed that up with 1989’s The War of the Roses which he also starred in alongside Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner.
However, it’s likely the live-action adaptation of Roald Dahl’s Matilda that is most familiar to some fans. Devito directed and starred alongside Mara Wilson as Matilda’s father Mr. Wormwood as well as the movie’s narrator.
9 Warren Beatty Brought Comic Hero Dick Tracy To Life On The Big Screen
Actor Warren Beatty might be best known for his dual roles as actor and director in movies like 1978’s Heaven Can Wait, 1981’s Reds (which won him an Academy Award for Best Director), or even 1998’s Bulworth which he starred in alongside Halle Berry.
However, it was his live-action adaptation of popular newspaper strip hero Dick Tracy in 1990 that most fans remember. Not only did Beatty perfectly cast himself as the iconic police detective, but he also surrounded himself by a talented cast of actors like Dustin Hoffman and Al Pacino who dived wholeheartedly into their colorful roles in the practical-effect-filled movie.
8 Kevin Costner Directed Himself In The Award-Winning Dances With Wolves
1990’s Dances With Wolves served as star Kevin Costner’s directorial debut, which explored a Civil War soldier’s decision to abandon his old life in favor of a new one with a Sioux tribe that takes him in as one of their own.
Dances With Wolves impressed audiences and won a few Academy Awards including Best Picture and the Best Director win for Kevin Costner. He would return to direct and star in movies like 1997’s The Postman and 2003’s Open Range, though neither managed to reach the acclaim or accolades of Dances With Wolves.
7 Barbra Streisand Has Starred In & Directed A Few Movies Including Yentl
While she might be best known as a singer, Barbra Streisand is a multi-talented actress and filmmaker who is part of the elite group of EGOT winners who are recognized for taking home an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar, and a Tony award, as well as many other accomplishments over the years.
Streisand starred in her directorial debut Yentl in 1983, which told the story of a Jewish girl forced to live her life as a man in order to receive an education in Talmudic Law. She would also star and direct critically-acclaimed movies like 1991’s The Prince of Tides and 1996’s The Mirror Has Two Faces.
6 Mel Gibson Directed & Starred In The Man Without A Face & Braveheart
Mel Gibson’s directorial debut was 1993’s The Man Without A Face, where he played a man scarred due to burns from a traffic accident who began tutoring a troubled young boy who uncovered the secrets of his new friend’s dark past. However, most fans will be more likely to remember his starring role as Scotsman William Wallace in 1995’s Braveheart.
Gibson also directed the epic historical film and won both a Best Picture and Best Directing Academy Awards for Braveheart. Gibson would continue his directing career with movies like The Passion of the Christ and Apocalypto, though he stayed behind the camera for those movies.
5 Sylvester Stallone Has Directed Movies From His Big Franchises Like Rocky & Rambo
Sylvester Stallone has always had a presence behind the camera in his movies. That all began with writing movies like Rocky and his work on the screenplay for First Blood, the first in the long-running Rambo franchise.
However, he also stepped into the role of director while playing the main character in sequels like 1979’s Rocky II, 1982’s Rocky III, 1985’s Rocky IV, and 2006’s Rocky Balboa. He also directed 2008’s return of Rambo before he took on one of his biggest action movies as director of The Expendables in 2010, which also saw him as the leader of a team of elite mercenaries.
4 Ben Affleck Directed & Starred In Movies Like The Town & Argo
Matt Damon and Ben Affleck made early names for themselves in Hollywood when they wrote and starred in 1997’s Good Will Hunting. However, Affleck would find himself behind the camera for the first time with 2007’s Gone Baby Gone starring his brother Casey Affleck.
He starred as the leader of a team of successful bank robbers from Boston in 2010’s The Town which he also directed. Affleck then wowed fans as the star and director of 2012’s Argo which was based on the fictitious movie plot that led to the rescue of U.S. diplomats during the Iran hostage crisis of 1979.
3 Joel Edgerton Wrote & Starred In His Directorial Debut The Gift
2015’s The Gift was actor Joel Edgerton’s directorial debut, which he also wrote and co-produced. He played the role of Gordo, an odd acquaintance of a recently relocated couple (Jason Bateman and Rebecca Hall) who soon began to reveal their dark shared history together.
The Gift was an intense psychological thriller that had fans on the edge of their seats which undoubtedly caused a number of mouths to drop when the credits rolled after the unforgettable twist. He followed this up with 2018’s Boy Erased, which he also starred in alongside Lucas Hedges, Nicole Kidman, and Russel Crowe.
2 John Krasinski Directed & Starred In The Tense Horror A Quiet Place
While Krasinski had starred in and directed movies like 2009’s Brief Interviews With Hideous Men and 2016’s The Hollars, fans were surprised and impressed by The Office star John Krasinksi’s 2018 sci-fi horror A Quiet Place. Krasinski starred alongside his wife Emily Blunt as parents struggling to keep their family alive in a post-apocalyptic world filled with sound-hunting monsters.
The movie was memorable for the heavy use of American Sign Language as a main form of communication thanks to the family’s deaf daughter. Krasinski remained behind the camera and returned for an appearance in 2021’s highly-anticipated sequel A Quiet Place II.
1 Clint Eastwood Has Directed Over Thirty Movies & Starred In Quite A Few
The celebrated actor may have risen to fame as an international leading man in classic spaghetti westerns like A Fistful of Dollars, but he soon found his way behind the camera for his directorial debut and starring role in 1971’s Play Misty for Me. Eastwood has directed over thirty movies in the last few decades, and he’s starred in quite a few.
The most memorable roles in his own movies were in 1992’s Unforgiven, 2000’s Space Cowboys, 2008’s Gran Torino, and his most recent with 2018’s The Mule. Eastwood was also the oldest recipient of the Academy Award for Best Director, which he won at 74 with 2004’s Million Dollar Baby.
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