Actors turned directors

Even though they have very successful acting careers, some movie stars simply need greater challenge and fall in love with the whole process of film making so they decide to step behind the camera and direct. And in many cases we see some impressive results. Take a look at our list of some of the most popular actors who are also good directors.

Ron Howard








The kid from The Andy Griffith Show and the teenage star of Happy Days has become one of the most successful directors around, but he started as an actor. However, he moved almost entirely into directing, and with some considerable success. Some of his movies are: Splash, Cocoon, Backdraft, Apollo 13, A Beautiful Mind (Best Picture and Best Director award), How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Frost/Nixon, The Da Vinci Code, and Angels & Demons.

Rob Reiner








Reiner became famous playing Michael Stivic, better known as Meathead, on 1970s sitcom All in the Family. He made his directorial debut with This Is Spinal Tap and has been quite successful ever since. Movie fans in general will also forever appreciate him for Stand By Me, The Princess Bride, Throw Momma From The Train, When Harry Met Sally and A Few Good Men.

George Clooney








This A-list actor wasn’t always the superstar we know him today. He struggled for a while in Hollywood before getting the big break on ER, then jumping to major films with the legendary From Dust Till Dawn. Today he is not only the star of some great movies but he’s also a rather good director. His directorial debut came with 2002’s Confessions of a Dangerous Mind. In 2006, Clooney was nominated as Best Director for Good Night and Good Luck, but he won for Best Supporting Actor in Syriana instead. He’s also given us the football comedy Leatherheads and the political drama The Ides of March.

Sean Penn








As an actor, he’s notched up an impressive CV, including two Academy Awards (Mystic River and Milk) and he has directed a long list of movies, including hit flick Into The Wild. He was also working behind the camera on The Indian Runner, The Crossing Guard and The Pledge.

Mel Gibson








Exploding onto the scene in 1979’s Mad Max, Mel Gibson became one of Hollywood’s most bankable stars by playing action-thriller-sexy throughout the 80s. His directorial debut was 1993’s Man Without a Face, and after that he did Dances With Wolves. But he leapt into the stratosphere with 1995’s Braveheart, which won the Best Picture and Director Oscars.

Robert Redford








Founder of the Sundance Film Festival, Redford is one of the greatest actors with an Academy Award nomination. However, he has always dreamed of directing and, with two Oscar wins for the discipline, is arguably more successful at it. Ordinary People was his debut at the helm, and other notable credits include A River Runs Through It, Quiz Show, and The Legend of Bagger Vance.

Ben Affleck








Ben Affleck has to be one of the most celebrated actors turned directors of all time. He’s starred in a string of big movies, including Pearl Harbor, Armageddon and The Town. In 1997, Ben and his best mate Matt Damon wrote the screenplay for Good Will Hunting. At just 25, Ben became the youngest ever winner of the Best Original Screenplay prize. Most recently, though, Ben played Tony Mendez in Argo, a film he also produced and directed. He won numerous awards for his work on the hit movie, including a Best Director Golden Globe and Best Picture Oscar.

Clint Eastwood








Clint Eastwood became an icon of Old West action in the 60s, exchanged six-guns for Dirty Harry‘s 44 Magnum in the 70s, and began double duties as director/lead in revisionist westerns High Plains Drifter, The Outlaw Josey Wales, and the thriller Play Misty For Me. He continued this throughout the 80s (Pale Rider, Heartbreak Ridge and Bird), finally getting Oscar recognition – Best Picture and Best Director – for Unforgiven. Mystic River got nominations for those two awards and, a year later, 2005’s Million Dollar Baby saw him win them both again. He is 83 years old and has no intention of retiring.


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