Being the creative people that they are, not all actors are content with just acting: a lot of them also enjoy producing, writing, and even singing like those in my top 5 singing actors. Directing, however, is a whole different ball game and stepping behind the camera can be more challenging than being in front of it. Here are my top 5 actors who I think have done well on both sides of the camera.
Ron Howard currently appears to be a full time director but once upon a time he starred in TV classics like The Waltons, Bonanza, M*A*S*H, and Happy Days. With a lengthy list of film and TV work under his belt Howard soon turned his attention to making some top notch films. Cocoon, Backdraft, Apollo 13, A Beautiful Mind and The Da Vinci Code are just a few of the films that have helped Howard become one of the most notable directors in the business.
After playing J.D. on the successful TV series Scrubs for a few years, Zach Braff soon made his directorial debut with the independent film Garden State. Braff starred, wrote, and even selected the film’s music, making this film a true labour of love. His acting credits are not as extensive as someone like Brad Pitt and the film is not going to give Woody Allen sleepless nights but Garden State is a surprisingly sweet film that made a substantial profit: proving that a big budget and a big name aren’t necessary to ensure a film’s success.
Matt Damon and Ben Affleck hit the jackpot when their award winning film Good Will Hunting (which they wrote together) propelled them into Hollywood’s elite overnight. While Damon’s career was on an upwards trajectory, Affleck’s was definitely not where he would have wanted it and it appeared that many had begun to write him off. After a few carefully chosen roles and a venture into directing, the Boston native was finally able to show us what he was made of. Gone Baby Gone and The Town are two solid films that will certainly make you forgive him for his lack of judgment when he starred in Gigli.
With a career that has taken a serious nose dive since his numerous indiscretions, Mel Gibson’s work as an actor and director is so good that you wish he would pull himself together and direct again. The Australian’s humour and good looks made him popular with films like Mad Max and Lethal Weapon. However, his love for directing was evident when he made the Oscar winning epic Braveheart, the controversial Passion of the Christ and Apocalypto. Gibson’s attention to detail and ability to tell a story in an interesting way make each film he makes vastly different from the other and exciting to watch.
If there is one actor that seems to have mastered both acting and directing it has to be Clint Eastwood. For decades, he has forged a respectable acting career in a number of roles like Harry Callahan in the Dirty Harry films. As a director, his films (Unforgiven, Mystic River, Million Dollar Baby) are highly respected and have been awarded a number of accolades and have been praised by critics. Out of all the films he has directed it is The Bridges of Madison County that stands out from the rest. Eastwood stars alongside Meryl Streep in this emotional romantic drama that is a nice departure from the monosyllabic tough guy we have become accustomed to seeing.