Special Report

The Best and Worst Movies Directed by Famous Actors

Actors are the face of a movie; directors (along with screenwriters) are the people with the vision behind the movie.

Since the silent era, however, there have been numerous examples of the actor and the director being the one and the same. In some cases, wearing two hats has worked beautifully; in others, not so much.

To identify the best and worst movies directed by famous actors, 24/7 Tempo compiled a list of almost six dozen movies helmed by figures better known for their on-screen performances than their behind-the-camera skills. We ranked them by developing an index using average ratings on IMDb, an online movie database owned by Amazon, and a combination of audience scores and Tomatometer scores on Rotten Tomatoes, an online movie and TV review aggregator, as of May 2022, weighting all ratings equally. Directorial and cast credits are from IMDb.

The equation works the other way, too. These are 20 famous directors who have acted in other people’s movies.

The most prodigious actor-director hyphenate was probably comedy icon Charlie Chaplin, who not only directed most of the movies he starred in but also wrote them and in some cases produced them and wrote their musical scores.

On the other hand, the legendary Charles Laughton, known for his starring roles in such noteworthy mid-20th-century films as “The Private Life of Henry VIII,” “Mutiny on the Bounty,” and “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” only directed one movie – the 1955 noir thriller “The Night of the Hunter,” in which he did not appear. (Though it initially received a lukewarm reception, it is now considered a classic.)

Click here to see the best and worst movies directed by famous actors

Some films with actors stepping behind the camera have gone on to win Oscars. For example, Kevin Costner both starred in and made his directorial debut with “Dances with Wolves” taking home seven Academy Awards in 1990, including those for best director and best picture. More recently, Bradley Cooper made his own directorial debut in the latest cinematic version of “A Star Is Born,” in which he also starred. It was nominated for eight Oscars, though it won only for Best Original Song. (These are directors who were nominated for an Oscar on their first try.)

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