Special Report

20 Famous Directors Who Acted in Other People’s Movies

Behind every great piece of cinema is a director leading and inspiring a cast and crew. While every part of the filmmaking process is a team effort, it is truly the director’s eye and leading hand that can make the difference between any movie being a good or great one. (Here’s who won the Oscar for Best Director every year since the Oscars began.)

Besides their work behind the cameras, there’s also a long tradition of directors appearing on-screen as well. In addition to one-time actors who transitioned to mostly directing (like Ron Howard or Sydney Pollack) and hyphenate actor-directors like Warren Beatty and Clint Eastwood, some directors have a tradition of making cameo appearances in everything they helm. Alfred Hitchcock was particularly famous for doing this; more recently, M. Night Shyamalan almost always shows up quickly in his movies. (These are Alfred Hitchcock’s best and worst movies.)

But there are also a number of prominent directors who have appeared – almost always in cameos, sometimes playing themselves, and sometimes uncredited – in movies directed by other people. François Truffaut took an on-screen role for Steven Spielberg, for instance, and Martin Scorsese made an appearance in a movie by legendary Japanese director Akiru Kurasawa. 

Click here to learn about 20 directors who’ve acted in other people’s movies

To assemble a list of some of the noted directors who have appeared in films by other filmmakers, 24/7 Tempo consulted actor listings for directors on IMDb, an online movie and TV database owned by Amazon. Information on films both by and featuring directors also comes from IMDb.

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