It seems like actors get the itch to direct their own movies after years of toiling away on the job. A couple of perfect examples showed up this year at Cannes, one in an announcement and the other in an actual in-competition screening. The announcement came from Ron Perlman. The “Sons of Anarchy” actor is starting his own production studio known as Wing and a Prayer Productions and he said that he wants to produce movies similar to dramas from the 70s. He also made the announcement that one of the first five films he produces will be also be one that he also directs.
The movie that actually screened at Cannes was Ryan Gosling’s directorial debut “Lost River.” The movie, a haunting look at death and loss, was panned by critics, although it received an equal amount of boos and cheers after the actual screening finished at the festival. While Gosling is off to a rough start and Perlman is just getting prepared, here are three actors-turned-Oscar winning directors they can look to for inspiration.
Ben Affleck, “Argo”
Before he started directing movies, Ben Affleck had become a punch line in Hollywood. His good looks and easy going personality made him an instant leading man, but some poor choices in roles led some fans to deride him as a bad actor. With critical flops like “Pearl Harbor” and “Gigli,” Affleck needed to turn things around quickly. After a head turning role in “Hollywoodland,” Affleck decided to step behind a camera and direct his brother in “Gone Baby Gone.” He followed that with the fantastic “The Town” and then won an Oscar for directing the Iran Hostage Crisis film “Argo.”
Clint Eastwood, “Unforgiven”
Clint Eastwood had made his name as a western icon with 16 years of acting work behind him when he stepped behind the camera for the first time in 1971 to direct “Play Misty for Me.” After that, he started to direct more of his own western movies, including “High Plains Drifter” and “The Outlaw Josey Wales.” However, in 1992, things really took off for Eastwood when he directed the throwback western “Unforgiven.” It was a perfect bookend to his career in the western genre and earned Eastwood his first Oscar. He has received a total of four Best Director Oscar nominations, winning two.
Robert Redford, “Ordinary People”
Easily one of the best actors of his generation, Robert Redford was a perfect mixture of Hollywood leading man looks and award-worthy acting talent. However, despite his quality body of work, his only Oscar acting nomination came in 1973 for “The Sting,” and in 1980 he decided to try his hand at directing. His first directorial work, “Ordinary People,” was a huge success. With this debut film, Redford won his first Oscar, with the movie winning Best Picture and Redford winning Best Director. Redford has directed nine movies over his career, picking up one more nomination for “Quiz Show.”