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The Best Films Directed by Famous Actors

Updated November 1, 2019 74.1k votes 5.9k voters 2.0m views132 items

List RulesOnly movies directed by famous ACTORS (or at least people who are known for their acting as much as for directing)

Several great films were directed by actors. Many of these films went on to win Academy Awards and others became summer blockbusters. When actors step behind the camera, great things can happen. Some actors have directed and starred as well. This list of the best movies directed by famous actors is loosely ranked by fame and popularity. 

Kevin Costner's fantastic directorial debut Dances with Wolves took home seven Oscars in 1990. Costner personally received statues for Best Director and Best Picture. Swingers actor Jon Favreau went on to direct the summer blockbusters Iron Man and Iron Man 2. He also directed the Christmas classic Elf.

Other great films directed by actors include Citizen Kane (Orson Welles), A Beautiful Mind (Ron Howard) and Unforgiven (Clint Eastwood).

Are you surprised that so many great films are directed by actors? Vote up the films you think are the best below or add the movie you think is the greatest, that was directed by a famous actor or actress.

Want to vote on more films like these? Check out this list of The Best Directorial Debuts of Famous Actors.

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  • 1
    Gran Torino
    1,387
    366

    Gran Torino

    Clint Eastwood

    ActorsClint Eastwood, Dreama Walker, Scott Eastwood, John Carroll Lynch, Ahney Her

    Released2008

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  • 2
    Dances with Wolves
    1,101
    383

    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 Wikipedia

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  • 3
    Iron Man
    1,141
    385

    Iron Man

    Jon Favreau filmography

    ActorsRobert Downey Jr., Terrence Howard, Jeff Bridges, Shaun Toub, Gwyneth Paltrow

    Released2008

    Iron Man is a 2008 American superhero film directed by Jon Favreau, based on the Marvel Comics... more on Wikipedia

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  • 4
    Groundhog Day
    960
    352

    Groundhog Day

    Harold Ramis

    ActorsBill Murray, Andie MacDowell, Michael Shannon, Harold Ramis, Chris Elliott

    Released1993

    Groundhog Day is a 1993 American fantasy comedy film directed by Harold Ramis. A derisive... more on Wikipedia
  • 5
    Braveheart
    1,248
    581

    Braveheart

    Mel Gibson

    ActorsMel Gibson, Sophie Marceau, Brendan Gleeson, Brian Cox, Catherine McCormack

    Released1995

    Braveheart is a 1995 epic historical medieval war drama film directed by and starring Mel... more on Wikipedia
  • 6
    A Quiet Place
    671
    34

    A Quiet Place

    John Krasinski

    ActorsJohn Krasinski, Emily Blunt, Noah Jupe, Millicent Simmonds

    Released2018

    A Quiet Place is a 2018 American supernatural horror film directed by John Krasinski. A family... more on Wikipedia

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  • 7
    A Beautiful Mind
    783
    325

    ActorsJennifer Connelly, Russell Crowe, Ron Howard, Ed Harris, Christopher Plummer

    Released2001

    A Beautiful Mind is a 2001 American biographical drama film based on the life of John Nash, a... more on Wikipedia
  • 8
    Stand by Me
    1,048
    339

    Stand by Me

    Rob Reiner

    ActorsKiefer Sutherland, Corey Feldman, John Cusack, Richard Dreyfuss, River Phoenix

    Released1986

    Stand by Me is a 1986 American coming of age comedy-drama adventure film directed by Rob... more on Wikipedia

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  • 9
    Easy Rider: The Ride Back
    1,603
    311

    Easy Rider: The Ride Back

    Dennis Hopper, Dustin Rikert

    ActorsJack Nicholson, Dennis Hopper, Bridget Fonda, Peter Fonda, Phil Spector

    Released2012

    Easy Rider is a 1969 American road movie written by Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper, and Terry... more on Wikipedia

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  • 10
    Rush
    792
    251

    Rush

    Ron Howard

    ActorsChris Hemsworth, Daniel Brühl, Olivia Wilde, Alexandra Maria Lara, Pierfrancesco Favino

    Released2013

    Rush is a 2013 biographical sports film directed by Ron Howard. The merciless 1970s rivalry... more on Wikipedia

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  • 11
    Unforgiven
    1,071
    291

    Unforgiven

    Clint Eastwood

    ActorsClint Eastwood, Morgan Freeman, Gene Hackman, Richard Harris, Frances Fisher

    Released1992

    Unforgiven is a 1992 American Western film produced and directed by Clint Eastwood with a... more on Wikipedia
  • 12
    Backdraft
    622
    327

    Backdraft

    Ron Howard

    ActorsRobert De Niro, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Donald Sutherland, Rebecca De Mornay

    Released1991

    Backdraft is a 1991 action thriller film directed by Ron Howard and written by Gregory Widen.... more on Wikipedia

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  • 13
    Dead Man Walking
    1,362
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    Dead Man Walking

    Tim Robbins

    ActorsSean Penn, Susan Sarandon, Jack Black, Eva Amurri, Peter Sarsgaard

    Released1995

    This film is a 1995 American drama film starring Susan Sarandon and Sean Penn, and co-produced... more on Wikipedia

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  • 14
    Citizen Kane
    632
    322

    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 Wikipedia
  • 15
    The Cable Guy
    576
    173

    The Cable Guy

    Ben Stiller

    ActorsJim Carrey, Ben Stiller, Jack Black, Owen Wilson, Kathy Griffin

    Released1996

    The Cable Guy is a 1996 American thriller dark comedy film directed by Ben Stiller, who also... more on Wikipedia

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  • 16
    The Passion of the Christ

    ActorsMonica Bellucci, Jim Caviezel, Claudia Gerini, Rosalinda Celentano, Francesco Cabras

    Released2004

    The Passion of the Christ is a 2004 American epic biblical drama film directed by Mel Gibson... more on Wikipedia
  • 17
    A River Runs Through It
    602
    326

    ActorsBrad Pitt, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Robert Redford, Brenda Blethyn, Tom Skerritt

    Released1992

    A River Runs Through It is a 1992 American film directed by Robert Redford and starring Craig... more on Wikipedia

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  • 18
    Sling Blade
    605
    329

    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 Wikipedia
  • 19
    Million Dollar Baby
    763
    338

    Million Dollar Baby

    Clint Eastwood

    ActorsClint Eastwood, Morgan Freeman, Hilary Swank, Jay Baruchel, Anthony Mackie

    Released2004

    Million Dollar Baby is a 2004 American sports drama film directed, co-produced and scored by... more on Wikipedia

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  • 20
    The Apostle
    274
    136

    The Apostle

    Robert Duvall

    ActorsFarrah Fawcett, Robert Duvall, Billy Bob Thornton, Miranda Richardson, Walton Goggins

    Released1997

    The Apostle is a 1997 American drama film written and directed by Robert Duvall, who stars in... more on Wikipedia

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  • 21
    Hoffa
    368
    151

    Hoffa

    Danny DeVito

    ActorsJack Nicholson, Danny DeVito, Tim Burton, John C. Reilly, Jon Favreau filmography

    Released1992

    Hoffa is a 1992 French-American biographical film directed by Danny DeVito and written by... more on Wikipedia

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  • 22
    Monty Python and the Holy Grail

    ActorsJohn Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Michael Palin, Graham Chapman

    Released1975

    Monty Python and the Holy Grail is a 1975 British comedy film written and performed by the... more on Wikipedia

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  • 23
    Zoolander
    280
    63

    Zoolander

    Ben Stiller

    ActorsNatalie Portman, Paris Hilton, Heidi Klum, David Bowie, Milla Jovovich

    Released2001

    Zoolander is a 2001 American comedy film directed by Ben Stiller and, starring Stiller and... more on Wikipedia

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  • 24
    Colors
    324
    105

    Colors

    Dennis Hopper

    ActorsSean Penn, Robert Duvall, Don Cheadle, Mario Lopez, Damon Wayans

    Released1988

    Colors is a 1988 American police procedural action film starring Sean Penn and Robert Duvall,... more on Wikipedia
  • 25
    Argo
    516
    351

    Argo

    Ben Affleck

    ActorsBen Affleck, John Goodman, Bryan Cranston, Alan Arkin, Taylor Schilling

    Released2012

    Argo is a 2012 American political thriller film directed by Ben Affleck. The film is adapted... more on Wikipedia

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