Entertainment
69 voters

The Best Directorial Debuts of Famous Actors

Updated September 9, 2020 1.7k votes 69 voters 1.7k views134 items

List RulesVote up the best directorial debuts of these actors-turned-directors.

Have you ever wanted to rank every actor-turned-director's first movie? Now’s your chance with this list of all the first movies of actor-directors. Maybe you like the actor but hate them as a director. There are also actors who turn out to be geniuses in the director's chair. Orson Welles, Robert De Niro, and Dennis Hopper all made classic films when they decided to put on their director's hat for the first time. They also acted in the first films they directed, but are they the best?

This list is also fun because everyone knows that Clint Eastwood directed Unforgiven, Million Dollar Baby, and Gran Torino, but did you know that Play Me Misty was the first movie he ever directed? Or that before Ben Affleck directed The Town and Argo, he directed his brother Casey Affleck in Gone Baby Gone? Use this list to satisfy your curiosity when it comes to the first films that were directed by famous actors. 

Jordan Peele, Bradley Cooper, Olivia Wilde, Joel Edgerton, and Drew Barrymore are just some of the more contemporary examples of famous actors with directorial debuts. Bradley Cooper and Jordan Peele actually won Oscars for their films A Star is Born and Get Out. You'll even find a sequel on this list as Elizabeth Banks took the reigns on Pitch Perfect 2. Vote up the first movies by actors-turned-directors that you love and vote down the ones you thought were terrible. 

Photo:
  • 1
    Get Out
    34
    15

    Get Out

    Jordan Peele

    ActorsDaniel Kaluuya, Catherine Keener, Allison Williams, Bradley Whitford, Caleb Landry Jones

    Released2017

    Get Out is a 2017 American horror film directed by Jordan Peele. A young African-American... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 2
    A Star Is Born
    30
    12

    A Star Is Born

    Bradley Cooper

    ActorsBradley Cooper, Lady Gaga, Sam Elliott, Andrew Dice Clay, Dave Chappelle

    Released2018

    A Star Is Born is a 2018 American musical romantic drama film directed by Bradley Cooper. A... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 3
    Dances with Wolves
    27
    12

    Dances with Wolves

    Kevin Costner

    ActorsKevin Costner, Mary McDonnell, Charles Rocket, Graham Greene, Maury Chaykin

    Released1990

    Dances with Wolves is a 1990 American epic western film directed, produced by, and starring... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 4
    Citizen Kane
    29
    14

    Citizen Kane

    Orson Welles

    ActorsOrson Welles, Alan Ladd, Agnes Moorehead, Joseph Cotten, Arthur O'Connell

    Released1941

    Citizen Kane is a 1941 American drama film produced by, co-written by, directed by and... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 5
    A Bronx Tale
    28
    13

    A Bronx Tale

    Robert De Niro

    ActorsRobert De Niro, Joe Pesci, Chazz Palminteri, Domenick Lombardozzi, Lillo Brancato

    Released1993

    A Bronx Tale is a 1993 American drama film set in the Bronx during the turbulent era of the... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 6
    Return of the Dragon

    ActorsBruce Lee, Chuck Norris, Nora Miao, Chung-Hsin Huang, Robert Wall

    Released1972

    Way of the Dragon is a 1972 Hong Kong martial arts action comedy film written, produced and... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 7
    Caddyshack
    20
    8

    Caddyshack

    Harold Ramis

    ActorsBill Murray, Chevy Chase, Rodney Dangerfield, Brian Doyle-Murray, Ted Knight

    Released1980

    Caddyshack is a 1980 American sports comedy film directed by Harold Ramis and written by Brian... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 8
    That Thing You Do!
    21
    10

    ActorsCharlize Theron, Tom Hanks, Liv Tyler, Bryan Cranston, Clint Howard

    Released1996

    That Thing You Do! is a 1996 American musical comedy drama film written, directed by, and... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 9
    This Is the End
    20
    11

    This Is the End

    Evan Goldberg, Seth Rogen

    ActorsJames Franco, Jonah Hill, Rogen, Jay Baruchel, Danny McBride

    Released2013

    This Is the End is a 2013 American disaster comedy film directed by Seth Rogen and Evan... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 10
    The Night of the Hunter
    16
    7

    The Night of the Hunter

    Charles Laughton

    ActorsRobert Mitchum, Shelley Winters, Lillian Gish, Peter Graves, James Gleason

    Released1955

    The Night of the Hunter is an American thriller film directed by Charles Laughton and starring... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 11
    Harlem Nights
    15
    5

    Harlem Nights

    Eddie Murphy

    ActorsEddie Murphy, Richard Pryor, Arsenio Hall, Roberto Durán, Redd Foxx

    Released1989

    Harlem Nights is a 1989 comedy film starring Eddie Murphy and Richard Pryor and directed by... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 12
    Sling Blade
    20
    12

    Sling Blade

    Billy Bob Thornton

    ActorsRobert Duvall, Billy Bob Thornton, John Ritter, Dwight Yoakam, J. T. Walsh

    Released1996

    Sling Blade is a 1996 American drama film set in rural Arkansas, written and directed by Billy... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 13
    Play Misty for Me
    17
    9

    Play Misty for Me

    Clint Eastwood

    ActorsClint Eastwood, Donna Mills, Jessica Walter, Don Siegel, Cannonball Adderley

    Released1971

    Play Misty for Me is a 1971 American psychological thriller film, directed by and starring... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 14
    Throw Momma from the Train

    ActorsBilly Crystal, Danny DeVito, Rob Reiner, Kate Mulgrew, Branford Marsalis

    Released1987

    Throw Momma from the Train is a 1987 American black comedy film directed by Danny DeVito, and... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 15
    Mid90s
    16
    9

    Mid90s

    Jonah Hill

    ActorsSunny Suljic, Lucas Hedges, Katherine Waterston

    Released2018

    Mid90s is a 2018 American comedy drama film directed by Jonah Hill. A thirteen-year-old (Sunny... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 16
    Away from Her
    15
    8

    Away from Her

    Sarah Polley

    ActorsNina Dobrev, Julie Christie, Olympia Dukakis, Wendy Crewson, Alberta Watson

    Released2006

    Away from Her is a 2006 Canadian film which debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 17
    Easy Rider
    15
    8

    Easy Rider

    Dennis Hopper

    ActorsPeter Fonda, Dennis Hopper, Jack Nicholson

    Released1969

    Easy Rider is a 1969 American independent road drama film directed by Dennis Hopper. Wyatt... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 18
    Pitch Perfect 2
    13
    7

    Pitch Perfect 2

    Elizabeth Banks

    ActorsSkylar Astin, John Michael Higgins, Ester Dean, Chrissie Fit, Kelley Jakle

    Released2015

    Pitch Perfect 2 is a 2015 American music and comedy film written by Kay Cannon.Amazon buy button
  • 19
    Frailty
    17
    12

    Frailty

    Bill Paxton

    ActorsMatthew McConaughey, Bill Paxton, Powers Boothe, Matt O'Leary, Levi Kreis

    Released2001

    Frailty is a 2002 psychological thriller film, directed by and starring Bill Paxton, and... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 20
    Whip It
    17
    12

    Whip It

    Drew Barrymore

    ActorsDrew Barrymore, Ellen Page, Kristen Wiig, Jimmy Fallon, Juliette Lewis

    Released2009

    Whip It is a 2009 comedy-drama film written by Shauna Cross, based on her novel Derby Girl.... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 21
    Henry V
    16
    11

    Henry V

    Kenneth Branagh

    ActorsChristian Bale, Emma Thompson, Judi Dench, Kenneth Branagh, Ian Holm

    Released1989

    Henry V is a 1989 British drama film adapted for the screen and directed by Kenneth Branagh,... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 22
    Antwone Fisher
    13
    9

    Antwone Fisher

    Denzel Washington

    ActorsDenzel Washington, Viola Davis, Salli Richardson, James Brolin, Joy Bryant

    Released2002

    Antwone Fisher is a 2002 American biographical drama film directed by and starring Denzel... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 23
    Confessions of a Dangerous Mind

    ActorsBrad Pitt, Julia Roberts, George Clooney, Drew Barrymore, Matt Damon

    Released2002

    Confessions of a Dangerous Mind is a 2002 biographical spy comedy film depicting the life of... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 24
    Looking for Richard

    ActorsAl Pacino, Alec Baldwin, Kevin Spacey, Winona Ryder, Aidan Quinn

    Released1996

    Looking for Richard is a 1996 documentary, drama film directed by Al Pacino.Amazon buy button
  • 25
    Cadence
    10
    7

    Cadence

    Martin Sheen

    ActorsCharlie Sheen, Martin Sheen, Laurence Fishburne, Abraham Murphy, Christopher Judge

    Released1990

    Cadence is a 1990 film directed by Martin Sheen, in which Charlie Sheen plays an inmate in a... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button