Thespians going both ways: Actors who are also directors
It’s no surprise that actors within the Hollywood machine want to break out of their mold. Some do so by choosing roles most people would never peg them for (just look at Robert Pattinson as Batman!), while others do so by taking a turn behind the camera.
TV actors are best known for this as they get a taste by directing an episode or two of a show they’re on, until suddenly they’ve immersed themselves behind the scenes. But it’s easy to switch roles and just trade hats. We’re here to talk about the ones who wear all the hats.
A lot of projects feature actors working not only behind the scenes, but as on-camera talent as well. By doing so, they get much more control over the production to see their vision come true. Today, we want to focus on the actors who’ve got a taste behind the camera, but didn’t give up their acting careers.
Elizabeth Banks and her husband Max Handelman were both behind the making of the Pitch Perfect franchise, working as producers on all three installments. Banks got her first directorial gig on Pitch Perfect 2. The movie’s $69 million gross set a record for a first-time filmmaker, giving Banks the confidence to go for a bigger project.
That bigger project was the 2019 reboot of Charlie’s Angels, which Banks directed, wrote, produced, and starred in. Talk about wearing multiple hats. While the film definitely hasn’t done well at the box office, it’s still impressive the A-lister was able to make such a blockbuster film while working behind the scenes in multiple capacities.
The How I Met Your Mother star actually didn’t get his producing start with the hit show he was on, but in film. His first real hit was Forgetting Sarah Marshall, for which Segel wrote the screenplay and the music featured in the film, while also starring as the lead.
Clearly he did a great job, because Disney entrusted him with the 2012 revival of The Muppets. Segel wrote both the script and the lyrics for the movie, while also starring as the lead. But fans of Segel’s TV work can be excited for his upcoming AMC series Dispatches From Nowhere. Segel wrote and directed the first episode, while executive producing and starring throughout the series.
Say what you will about Eastwood outside of the film world, he was one of the first major actors to start jumping between directing and acting. Since 1971, Eastwood has been manning the camera as director while also starring in his films.
From The Rookie to Play Misty For Me, to Eastwood’s more recent work like The Mule and Gran Torino, Eastwood is the man who started this game. Even in Gran Torino, the veteran performer helped write the music and performed it himself.
Streisand was so moved by writer Isaac Bashevis Singer’s short story Yentl: The Yeshiva Boy that she was determined to bring his story to a mainstream audience. Her movie Yentl was in development hell until Streisand became the director herself, so she could star in it even though everyone called her too old.
The musical film telling the story of a Jewish girl dressing as a male to get an education in Poland is definitely something different for Streisand. But it earned her a Golden Globe for Best Director, the first female director to win the award.
We couldn’t make this list without mentioning Happy Hogan. Jon Favreau got his start acting, but he’s mainly made a name for himself as a director, working on Elf, Zathura, and of course, The Jungle Book and Iron Man.
Favreau is best known as Tony Stark’s bumbling assistant and best friend Happy. But we’re here to really shine a light on Chef: Favreau starred, wrote, directed, and co-produced the film about a famous chef who leaves his hoity-toity LA job to run a food truck with his son. Definitely watch it in your free time; it’s the inspiration for his Netflix series The Chef Show.