06 May 2008

Actors turned director

Today would have been the 93rd birthday of the late Orson Welles and is also George Clooney's 48th. Both very different actors that have also directed movies to great effect. Does being directed in movies make you a better director? Many of the greatest actors have tried their hand with the megaphone only to fall flat (and go back to what they do best). With John Favreau's Ironman now making waves at the box office and Ben Affleck's Gone Baby Gone finally being released in the UK this is quite topical. So today's list is of celebrate or commiserate) those thespians who've taken the step behind the camera.

:: Orson Welles:
Shook up Hollywood with his first foray into film (Citizen Kane) he broke all the rules, partly through ignorance but also through brilliance. Considered one of the greatest actors and directors of his generation he was voted the greatest film director of all time in the British Film Institute's poll of Top Ten Directors in 2002.

Must see: as director: Citizen Kane, as actor: The Third Man

:: George Clooney
His good looks and charm brought him from TV hospital drama ER via Attack to the Killer Tomatoes to Hollywood A-lister (Oceans' 11, From Dusk Til Dawn, Batman and Robin, O' Brother Where Art Thou, Syriana) and even more acclaim as a director (Goodnight and Good Luck, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind). The man's got it all!

Must see: as director: Goodnight and Good Luck, as actor: Out of Sight

:: Ben Affleck:
Burst into Hollywood, sharing the best original screenplay (along with Matt Damon) for Good Will Hunting, in which he also starred. Whilst Damon went on to become a huge star and well respected actor, Affleck became a tabloid joke, with his relationship with Jennifer Lopez and a string of turkeys (Pearl Harbour, Jersey Girl, Gigli, Daredevil). Back on the scene after directing his brother Casey in Gone Baby Gone (finally being released in this country this month, after being put oin hold because of the similarities to the Madeline McCann case), critics are saying Affleck has found his calling.

Must see: as director: Gone Baby Gone, as actor: Shakespear in Love

:: Charlie Chaplin:
Most famous silent movie star of them all (and a favourite of Hitler, who he lampooned in The Great Dictator) Chaplin excelled as both an actor as well as director.

Must see: as director: Modern Times, as actor: too many to mention but try The Great Dictator or The Kid

:: Clint Eastwood:
Hard man, gritty thinking man's action hero, Eastwood has moved on from his classic Westerns roles (The Good the Bad and the Ugly, Rawhide) through his amazing 1970's output (Dirty Harry, Play Misty for Me, The Outlaw Josey Wales) to emerge as a brilliant director (Mystic River, Million Dollar Baby, Flags of Our Fathers/Letters from Iwo Jima), reinventing the western along the way (Unforgiven) and winning two Oscars and more nominations for acting, producing and directing, in the process. Not to mention his political career.

Must see: as director: Unforgiven, as actor: Dirty Harry

:: Ron Howard:
Best know for his role as Richie Cunningham in Happy Days, Howard surpassed his acing career becoming one of Hollywood's most successful director around today (Cocoon, Far and Away, Apollo 13, The Da Vinci Code).

Must see: as director: Ransom, as actor: American Graffiti

:: Jodie Foster:
Probably the greatest actress of her generation (winning best actress Oscars for The Accused and The Silence of the Lambs) her directing career hasn't hit the same critical or commercial heights (Little Man Tate, Home for the Holidays, Flora Plum).

Must see: as director: err, Little Man Tate I guess, as actor: Taxi Driver

:: Kevin Costner:
When the biggest star at the time (The Untouchables, Bull Durham, Field Of Dreams, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves) turned to directing Hollywood thought they had a new directing star on their hands (Oscar winning Dances With Wolves). They didn't anticipate Waterworld or The Postman.

Must see: as director: Dances With Wolves, as actor: JFK

:: Sean Penn:
Intense, bad boy actor with a good body of work under his belt (At Close Range, Carlito's Way, The Game) turned to directing with The Indian Runner and has critical, if not huge commercial since (The Crossing Guard, The Pledge, Into the Wild)

Must see: as director: Into the Wild, as actor: Dead Man Walking

There are plenty out there. What are your favourite actors turned directors (or the ones who didn't cut the mustard)?


Sandra Ree said...

Robert Redford! Ordinary People - Academy Award in 1981 for Best Director. Also A River Runs Through It starring none other - Brad Pitt.

Love love Ben Affleck and Sean Penn as well!

Not thrilled with Kevin Costner.

We still watch Ron Howard every day at 5:30 p.m. :)

DeeDubya said...

How could I forget The Sundance Kid? He also has a film festival named after him! Another fine body of (directing) work (Lions for Lambs, The Legend of Bagger Vance, The Horse Whisperer, Quiz Show, A River Runs Through It) and of course Ordinary People somehow beat Ragging Bull to the best picture Oscar.