5 actors who turned into brilliant directors... and 5 who failed spectacularly

  • 5 actors who turned into brilliant directors... and 5 who failed spectacularly

With a lot more actors venturing behind the camera to direct, it's a bit of a gamble whether they'll pull it off as well as they perform in front of the camera, or whether they should stick to the day job.

So here are five of the best actors who tried their hand at directing, and five who really shouldn't have ventured behind the camera...

Clint Eastwood

These days, the star of over 60 films, including Dirty Harry, A Fistful of Dollars and Escape from Alcatraz is just as well known for the films that he's directed, as the scowling, gun-wielding characters that he played.

With each release, Eastwood's films have constantly pestered the Oscar nominations, with five being nominated for Best Picture and himself earning four Best Director nominations - winning two in each category.

Having started directing in the '70s, Eastwood has had many years to hone his directing skills, and having made Oscar-nominated films Unforgiven, Mystic River, Million Dollar Baby and American Sniper, he is the poster boy for all actors aspiring to be directors.

Ben Affleck

It's fair to say that Ben Affleck didn't have the most well-respected acting career, helped by roles in stinkers such as Daredevil, Gigli, Reindeer Games and Jersey Girl.

But Affleck always seemed to be better behind the camera, as early in his Hollywood career, he and Matt Damon won the Best Original Screenplay Oscar for the nine-time nominated Good Will Hunting.

His middle-of-the-road acting career turned into a phenomenal directing career with The Town, Gone Baby Gone and the Oscar-winning Argo which saw many critics brand him one of the finest directors working today.

Kenneth Branagh

Coming from a theatrical background, Kenneth Branagh made it onto the big screen with roles in Shakespeare adaptations Much Ado About Nothing, Henry V and Othello before going on to appear in Wild Wild West, Valkyrie and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.

While he was making a name for himself as an actor, Branagh was also working behind the camera, directing those Shakespeare adaptations before he got the call from Marvel to direct Thor and Disney to make the live-action Cinderella remake.

With an impressive résumé in both acting and directing, Branagh continues to go from strength to strength in his next project - (unsurprisingly) directing and starring as Hercule Poirot in Murder on the Orient Express.

Ron Howard

Starting off on TV in the sitcoms The Andy Griffith Show and Happy Days, Ron Howard also appeared in American Graffiti and lesser-known films The Shootist and Grand Theft Auto (which he also directed) while still shooting Happy Days.

In 1984, Howard left Happy Days to focus on a full-time directing career, kicking things off with the sci-fi flick Cocoon and eventually going on to make Oscar-winning classics Apollo 13 and A Beautiful Mind.

Since the '80s, Howard has popped up in front of the camera, but his main focus and success has been in directing a ton of films, including Cinderella Man, The Da Vinci Code, Frost/Nixon and he is set to direct the Han Solo origins movie, and is now one of the best-respected directors working in Hollywood today.

Mel Gibson

Never too far away from controversy, the Australian's first mainstream success arrived in 1979 playing the titular character in Mad Max, and he went on to wow audiences with standout performances in the Lethal Weapon films, Braveheart and romantic comedy What Women Want.

But while his outbursts and erratic behaviour have made studios somewhat reluctant to hire him as an actor, he is still making some impactful and well-received films.

Gibson directed himself in Braveheart, which won him the Best Director Oscar as well as four other statuettes,  The Passion of the Christ - his blood-soaked telling of the crucifixion, received three awards, while his most-recent film Hacksaw Ridge, the story of WWII pacifist medic Desmond Doss, was nominated for six Oscars, and bringing Gibson back into the limelight.

Five actors who should have stayed in front of the camera:

Kevin Spacey

With two Oscars on his mantlepiece, (Best Actor for American Beauty and Best Supporting Actor for The Usual Suspects), as well as a shelf-load of film, TV and theatre awards, no-one is debating that Kevin Spacey is one of the finest all-around actors working today.

However, on the two occasions when he has tried his hand at directing, in 1996 with crime thriller Albino Alligator and 2004's Bobby Darrin biopic Beyond the Sea, the results have been less well-received.

As well as directing, Spacey played singer Bobby Darrin, and his performance and directing was lambasted by critics for being a cliche-stuffed vanity project, meanwhile, his directorial debut Albino Alligator was branded lazy and tepid.

Having served as artistic director of London's Old Vic theatre from 2003 until 2015, Spacey has thankfully shown no inclination to direct any more films.

Ryan Gosling

Having starred in some of the best films of the past few years, including La La Land, The Big Short, Drive and Crazy, Stupid, Love, Ryan Gosling is a true bona fide Hollywood icon at the moment.

However, a brief foray behind the camera in the fantasy-neo-noir Lost River, which he also wrote, produced and starred in, didn't proved as successful.

Acting alongside an impressive cast including Christina Hendricks, Saoirse Ronan and his long-time partner Eva Mendes, Lost River was booed during its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival, and  critics labelled it a failed attempt at imitating the styles of Nicolas Winding-Refn and David Lynch.

Although the critics did state that Lost River showed signs that Gosling had a bright future as a director, so his place on this list may change in the future.

James Franco

Somewhat of an entertainment jack of all trades, James Franco acts, writes, produces and directs films, has modelled for Gucci, published a collection of short stories, lectures at universities and wrote an article for the New York Times; however one of the trades that he's plied - directing films - hasn't been as successful as the others.

Franco has directed over 20 documentaries, short films and feature films in the past 12 years, yet none of them has made a dent in the box office or public conscious, with many only being screened at film festivals or going straight to video-on-demand.

Franco's directing credits include forgotten efforts including As I Lay Dying, Sal, Black Dog, Red Dog and The Sound and the Fury - but he could break that streak with potentially his most high-profile effort, The Disaster Artist - a behind the scenes look at the infamous 'worst movie ever' The Room - set to be released at the end of 2017.

Jodie Foster

From her memorable first role as a teenage prostitute in Taxi Driver, Jodie Foster went on to win her first Oscar for her portrayal as a rape victim in 1988's The Accused and followed it up three years later with The Silence of the Lambs, cementing her status as a bona fide Hollywood acting icon.

With acting conquered, Foster decided she would do the same behind the camera, and in 1991 directed drama Little Man Tate about a child prodigy, which left many underwhelmed by her seeming to play it safe with regards to the result.

Her next film, 1995's Home for the Holidays was a commercial and critical failure and it wasn't until 2011 that she returned to the directing chair for surreal drama The Beaver, which was torpedoed by star's Mel Gibson's infamous racist rants.

It would seem that, in contrast to her onscreen work, when it comes to picking projects to direct, she can't catch a break.

Jack Nicholson

Having slowed down his workload in the past decade, Jack Nicholson proved with The Departed that he still has the gravity to deliver incredible performances despite being in his sixth decade in the business.

With iconic roles in the likes of Easy Rider, Chinatown, The Shining and One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, it is only the most hardcore Nicholson fans that will remember the two unremarkable films that Nicholson has directed.

The first, 1978 western comedy Goin' South was an average and largely-forgotten comedy, while he returned to one of his best films, Chinatown, to direct and star as Jake Gittes in the sequel The Two Jakes, yet Nicholson failed to repeat the stylish neo-noir nature of Roman Polanski's original.

Since the confusing and dull The Two Jakes in 1990, Nicholson didn't return to the director's chair, and his two failed efforts will be the only director credits to his name.

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