Filmmaking is a collaborative medium. It takes a village to make any film a reality, and every great film ever made has benefited from having tremendous craftsmanship at every level—not just the script, performances, and directing but also the production design, cinematography, sound design, etc. And while collaboration is the name of the game, expertise at each individual level is sometimes tough to achieve, and you don’t tend to see too much crossover between the various jobs.
One notable exception is the transition from acting to directing or screenwriting. As the faces onscreen, actors have an intimate relationship with the camera and storytelling that can sometimes translate into terrific skills behind the camera (although sometimes it’s a complete disaster). While there are a number of actors over the years who’ve made the successful leap to directing, few have hit it out of the park right out of the gate.
One actor whose directorial debut was a smashing success is Bradley Cooper, who is hot on the Oscar trail for his work directing, co-writing, and starring in A Star Is Born. With that film fresh on the brain, I thought it prudent to take a look back at some other actors whose directorial debuts were notable. Without further ado, let’s dig in.