Movie stars appear in movies. That’s their job. And while we recognize their faces, love their characters and obsess about their performances -- many actors choose to expand their careers (and ultimately their understanding of their craft) by venturing to the other side of the camera. Here are some of our favorite actors turned directors.
Though he’d been acting for a while, the comedian busted into the public eye opposite Vince Vaughn in the indie classic Swingers which he also wrote and co-produced. The film, about an actor struggling to find his ground in LA, poetically ended Favreau’s own struggles to really break into the industry. He’s best known on TV as Monica’s ultimate fighting millionaire boyfriend on Friends. Though he continues to act, write and produce, it’s his directorial efforts that get the biggest box office headlines (and profits): Elf, Cowboys and Aliens and a niche little franchise called Iron Man (I & II). We can’t wait to see what Favs (thanks IMDB) comes up with next.
Affleck originally came to the forefront of Hollywood consciousness as the friend, co-writer and supporting actor to the arguably more acclaimed Matt Damon with their Oscar-winning film Good Will Hunting. Though the two remain close, Affleck has left Damon’s side and gone on to many other high profile relationships, poker tournaments and Red Sox games. He’s also starred in, written produced and directed many great films (we aren’t going to mention his ill-fated stint as a superhero, or that one thing he made with that one pop music superstar). Most recently he impressed audiences and studios alike directing Gone Baby Gone and The Town, both nominated for Oscars. He also continues to work with Damon on Project Greenlight, giving first time filmmakers a chance to direct a feature length film. Not bad considering he started out Dazed and Confused as a MallRat.
Daughter of Academy Award winning actor John Voight, Angie was literally born for this. A string of amazing indie film roles define her early career, culminating in an Oscar for Girl, Interrupted. But it was her turn as the video game sex-symbol-come-to-life, Lara Croft in the Tomb Raider series, which proved she could make box office millions. She continues to ride the line between big box office blockbusters -- using the money she earns to fund her philanthropic efforts -- and smaller roles she finds more socially responsible in nature of creatively rewarding. Her feature directorial debut, In the Land of Blood and Honey (about a couple torn apart by the Bosnian war), reflects her more political interests and was met with much critical acclaim. She’s also gotten quite a bit of media attention for…. a lot of other stuff.
From his humble career beginnings as a handyman on the TV show The Facts of Life to becoming a multiple recipient of the “Sexiest Man Alive” title, Clooney keeps getting better with age. He’s expanded his resume in recent years to include screenwriter, producer and obviously, director. Like his friend Jolie, Clooney’s interests reach far beyond and above the infamous Hollywood sign. His philanthropic and humanitarian efforts span the globe and his political interests are evident in the films he writes and directs -- most notably Good Night and Good Luck and The Ides of March. He’s also one of the world’s most notoriously eligible bachelors. Just a side note.
Dirty Harry’s accomplishments and the arc of his career are pretty much too impressive to paraphrase, so let’s just say this: Clint = Bada**. From cowboy to soldier to police officer he ruled all terrain- from the plains to the streets- with equal swagger and the understated flair of total intimidation. While we’re all familiar with some of his amazing directorial efforts as of late (Mystic River, Million Dollar Baby, Gran Torino, Invictus) some of us don’t know that he’s been directing some of the films he also starred in since the 70’s. At nearly 82 years old, he’s still going strong.