Most actors are storytellers at heart and so it’s no surprise when one tries their hand at directing. The results can be predictably mixed, ranging from forgettable indies to some of the best films ever made. (These are directors who were nominated for an Oscar on their first try.)
Just as there’s no single fixed style of acting, there are all kinds of ways that one can express themselves from behind the camera.
To determine the best movies directed by actors, 24/7 Tempo developed an index based on IMDb user rating, Rotten Tomatoes audience score, and Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score. All ratings are weighted equally and are current as of October 2022. Only films directed by directors with at least five lead acting credits were considered. Director and cast credit information came from IMDb.
In some cases, the most formidable actors-turned-directors are the ones that we don’t see coming. After all, did anyone think that Ben Affleck would helm some of the 21st-century’s most acclaimed thrillers, including a Best Picture winner? Before him, someone like Clint Eastwood similarly upended expectations by proving himself a prolific director. (These are the highest grossing film directors of all time.)
When assembling the best movies directed by actors, we included directors who frequently act such as Mel Brooks and Orson Welles. We also excluded silent era legends such as Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin since they would have ended up dominating the list. What one gets in return is a healthy supply of classic titles, most of which were released in the last 30 years.
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