The Top 17 Actors Turned Directors

Entertainers typically aren’t satisfied with being stuck in one profession. Actors and actresses try to sing. Musicians get bit by the acting bug. And, then there are the entertainers that moonlight as artists, photographers, writers, etc. There’s even a select few, like Orson Welles, Woody Allen and Albert Brooks, that are capable of writing, directing and starring in a film flawlessly.

However, we decided to focus on actors and actresses that have found success behind the camera as a director.

17. Sofia Coppola

Being the daughter of Francis Ford Coppola has it’s benefits, like being featured in all three Godfather flicks. However, Sofia wasn’t blessed with acting talent, like her cousins Nic Cage and Jason Schwartzman, as evidenced in The Godfather: Part III. So, she followed in her father’s footsteps and became the director of films like The Virgin Suicides and Lost in Translation.

16. Sylvester Stallone

How can we forget Sly when he’s directed manly classics like Rocky II, III, IV, Rocky Balboa, Rambo and The Expendables?

15. Peter Berg

Berg has acted in films ranging from Cop Land to Corky Romano, but his directorial resume includes The Rundown,Friday Night Lights, Hancock and the upcoming Battleship.

14. Penny Marshall

Most of us remember Penny Marshall as Laverne, but she’s managed to helm movies like Big and A League of Their Own.

13. Sydney Pollack

Pollack had been acting since the late 1950s, but you may recall him from his roles in Tootsie, Eyes Wide Shut and The Sopranos. However, he had been directing for almost just as long with films that included Jeremiah Johnson, Tootsie, Out of Africa and The Firm.

12. Ben Stiller

Before essentially popping up in every comedy within the last ten years, Stiller made the rounds in theater and starring in lesser roles in TV and film. He became a bit more well known in 1992 with The Ben Stiller Show, and the rest is history. Along the way he’s also directed, and starred in, Reality Bits, The Cable Guy, Zoolander and Tropic Thunder.

11. Kevin Costner

There was a time in the late 80s and early 90s where Kevin Costner was one of the biggest actors around, thanks to films like The Untouchables, Field of Dreams and The Bodyguard. He’s also directed the Oscar-winning Dances With Wolves, as well as, the-not-so-great-The Postman and the-underrated Open Range.

10. Mel Gibson

Sure, Gibson has gone off the deep end as of late, but let’s not forget that at one time he was perhaps the most popular leading man in Hollywood. Mad Max has since gone on to direct The Man Without a Face, Braveheart, The Passion of the Christ and Apocalypto.

9. George Clooney

Clooney has gone from Return of the Killer Tomatoes to ER to Ocean’s Eleven to Up in the Air during his career in front of the camera. Within in the last decade he’s directed Confusions of a Dangerous Mind, Good Night, and Good Luck, the lame Leatherheads and the recently released The Ides of March.

8. Ben Affleck

Love him or hate, you can’t deny that he was the bomb in Phantoms. Despite being panned by most critics as an actor, Affleck has directed two well received flicks already, Gone Baby Gone and The Town. He’s currently directing his third film Argo.

7. Sean Penn

Penn made a name for himself as Spicoli in Fast Times At Ridgemont High, but became an Oscar-worthy actor in I Am Sam and Mystic River. He’s also been behind the camera with The Crossing Guard, The Pledge, and Into The Wild. His next directing effort The Comedian, starring Robert De Niro, is in pre-production.

6. Jon Favreau

Favreau got his big break as the loveable oaf in Rudy, before going on to star in PCU and Swingers. While he’s been in some pretty forgettable movies, like Couples Retreat, he’s directed some modern classics, like Made, Elf and Iron Man.

5. Robert Redford

Robert Redford is a Hollywood icon, but he’s not too shabby of a director either. He’s directed Ordinary People, A River Runs Through It, Quiz Show, The Horse Whisper, The Legend of Bagger Vance, and Lions For Lambs. He released The Conspirator earlier this year and is currently filming The Company You Keep.

4. Rob Reiner

Rob Reiner became a household name with his role of Michael ‘Meathead’ Stivic in All in the Family, but today, he’s more known as a director then occasional actor after directing films such as This is Spinal Tap, The Princess Bride, When Harry Met Sally…, A Few Good Men and The Bucket List.

3. Ron Howard

Ron Howard is probably the greatest-success-story-of-a-former-child-star in history. After starring in The Andy Griffith Show and Happy Days, Howard focused on directing. He’s directed some 33 films that have included Splash, Brackdraft, Apollo 13, Ransom, A Beautiful Mind, The Missing and The Da Vinci Code. He currently has two films in pre-production.

2. Charlie Chaplin

Chaplin is considered one of the most pivotal stars of the early days of Hollywood, particularly with his “Little Tramp” character. Although he directed many of his shorts, Chaplin directed his first “talkie” feature film with the classic The Great Dictator. He directed five more films after The Great Dictator, including A Countess from Hong Kong that starred Marlon Brando.

1. Clint Eastwood

The quintessential actor turned director. The former Dirty Harry actor has directed about 35 films, including The Outlaw Josey Wales, Unforgiven, Mystic River, Million Dollar Baby, and Gran Torino, just to name a few. His next film, J. Edgar, will be released on November 9, 2011.

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