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The Best Films Directed by Famous Actors 

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Updated November 1, 2019 104.2k votes 5.8k voters 2M views 144 items

List Rules Only 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
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Clint Eastwood

Actors: Clint Eastwood, Dreama Walker, Scott Eastwood, John Carroll Lynch, Ahney Her, + more

Released: 2008

Gran Torino is a 2008 American drama film directed and produced by Clint Eastwood, who also starred in the film. The film co-stars Christopher Carley, Bee Vang and Ahney Her. This was Eastwood's ...more

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Kevin Costner

Actors: Kevin Costner, Mary McDonnell, Charles Rocket, Graham Greene, Maury Chaykin, + more

Released: 1990

Dances with Wolves is a 1990 American epic western film directed, produced by, and starring Kevin Costner. It is a film adaptation of the 1988 book of the same name by Michael Blake and tells ...more

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3
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Ron Howard

Actors: Tom Hanks, Bryce Dallas Howard, Ed Harris, Bill Paxton, Gary Sinise, + more

Released: 1995

Apollo 13 is a 1995 American historical docudrama film directed by Ron Howard. The film stars Tom Hanks, Kevin Bacon, Bill Paxton, Gary Sinise, and Ed Harris. The screenplay by William Broyles, ...more

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4
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Clint Eastwood

Actors: Clint Eastwood, Morgan Freeman, Gene Hackman, Richard Harris, Frances Fisher, + more

Released: 1992

Unforgiven is a 1992 American Western film produced and directed by Clint Eastwood with a screenplay written by David Webb Peoples. The film portrays William Munny, an aging outlaw who takes on ...more

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#7 of 394 The Best Western Movies Ever Made #177 of 599 The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Madelisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

5
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Rob Reiner

Actors: Kiefer Sutherland, Corey Feldman, John Cusack, Richard Dreyfuss, River Phoenix, + more

Released: 1986

Stand by Me is a 1986 American coming of age comedy-drama adventure film directed by Rob Reiner and starring Wil Wheaton, River Phoenix, Corey Feldman and Jerry O'Connell. Based on the novella ...more

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6
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Penny Marshall

Actors: Madonna, Tom Hanks, Rosie O'Donnell, Geena Davis, Téa Leoni, + more

Released: 1992

A League of Their Own is a 1992 American comedy-drama film that tells a fictionalized account of the real-life All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. Directed by Penny Marshall, the ...more

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7
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Jon Favreau filmography

Actors: Robert Downey Jr., Terrence Howard, Jeff Bridges, Shaun Toub, Gwyneth Paltrow, + more

Released: 2008

Iron Man is a 2008 American superhero film directed by Jon Favreau, based on the Marvel Comics character. After being held captive in an Afghan cave, billionaire engineer Tony Stark (Robert ...more

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#43 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #49 of 599 The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made

8
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Penny Marshall

Actors: Tom Hanks, Jon Lovitz, Elizabeth Perkins, Mercedes Ruehl, Robert Loggia, + more

Released: 1988

Big is a 1988 American fantasy comedy film directed by Penny Marshall, and stars Tom Hanks as Josh Baskin, a young boy who makes a wish "to be big" and is then aged to adulthood ...more

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9
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Mel Gibson

Actors: Mel Gibson, Sophie Marceau, Brendan Gleeson, Brian Cox, Catherine McCormack, + more

Released: 1995

Braveheart is a 1995 epic historical medieval war drama film directed by and starring Mel Gibson. Gibson portrays William Wallace, a 13th-century Scottish warrior who led the Scots in the First ...more

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10
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Harold Ramis

Actors: Bill Murray, Andie MacDowell, Michael Shannon, Harold Ramis, Chris Elliott, + more

Released: 1993

Groundhog Day is a 1993 American fantasy comedy film directed by Harold Ramis, starring Bill Murray, Andie MacDowell, and Chris Elliott. It was written by Ramis and Danny Rubin, based on a story ...more

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11
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Ron Howard

Actors: Jennifer Connelly, Russell Crowe, Ron Howard, Ed Harris, Christopher Plummer, + more

Released: 2001

A Beautiful Mind is a 2001 American biographical drama film based on the life of John Nash, a Nobel Laureate in Economics. The film was directed by Ron Howard, from a screenplay written by Akiva ...more

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12
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Harold Ramis

Actors: Bill Murray, Chevy Chase, Rodney Dangerfield, Brian Doyle-Murray, Ted Knight, + more

Released: 1980

Caddyshack is a 1980 American sports comedy film directed by Harold Ramis and written by Brian Doyle-Murray, Ramis and Douglas Kenney. It stars Michael O'Keefe, Chevy Chase, Rodney Dangerfield, ...more

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13
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looksharp added Mel Gibson

Actors: Monica Bellucci, Jim Caviezel, Claudia Gerini, Rosalinda Celentano, Francesco Cabras, + more

Released: 2004

The Passion of the Christ is a 2004 American epic biblical drama film directed by Mel Gibson and starring Jim Caviezel as Jesus Christ. It depicts the Passion of Jesus largely according to the ...more

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#35 of 292 The Top Tearjerker Movies That Make Men Cry #864 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #262 of 363 The Best Movies Based On Books

14
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Clint Eastwood

Actors: Clint Eastwood, Morgan Freeman, Hilary Swank, Jay Baruchel, Anthony Mackie, + more

Released: 2004

Million Dollar Baby is a 2004 American sports drama film directed, co-produced and scored by Clint Eastwood, and starring Eastwood, Hilary Swank and Morgan Freeman. This film is about an ...more

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#33 of 292 The Top Tearjerker Movies That Make Men Cry #723 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movieslisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

15
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Robert Redford

Actors: Brad Pitt, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Robert Redford, Brenda Blethyn, Tom Skerritt, + more

Released: 1992

A River Runs Through It is a 1992 American film directed by Robert Redford and starring Craig Sheffer, Brad Pitt, Tom Skerritt, Brenda Blethyn, and Emily Lloyd. It is a period drama based on the ...more

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looksharp added Ron Howard

Actors: Robert De Niro, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Donald Sutherland, Rebecca De Mornay, + more

Released: 1991

Backdraft is a 1991 action thriller film directed by Ron Howard and written by Gregory Widen. The film stars Kurt Russell, William Baldwin, Scott Glenn, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Rebecca De Mornay, ...more

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17
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Orson Welles

Actors: Orson Welles, Alan Ladd, Agnes Moorehead, Joseph Cotten, Arthur O'Connell, + more

Released: 1941

Citizen Kane is a 1941 American drama film produced by, co-written by, directed by and starring Orson Welles. The picture was Welles's first feature film. The film was nominated for Academy ...more

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#998 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #188 of 599 The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Madelisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

18
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Rob Reiner

Actors: Billy Crystal, Robin Wright, André the Giant, Fred Savage, Mark Knopfler, + more

Released: 1987

The Princess Bride is a 1987 American romantic comedy fantasy adventure film directed and co-produced by Rob Reiner. It was adapted by William Goldman from his 1973 novel of the same name. The ...more

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19
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Billy Bob Thornton

Actors: Robert Duvall, Billy Bob Thornton, John Ritter, Dwight Yoakam, J. T. Walsh, + more

Released: 1996

Sling Blade is a 1996 American drama film set in rural Arkansas, written and directed by Billy Bob Thornton, who also stars in the lead role. It tells the story of a man named Karl Childers with ...more

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20
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Terry Gilliam

Actors: John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Michael Palin, Graham Chapman, + more

Released: 1975

Monty Python and the Holy Grail is a 1975 British comedy film written and performed by the comedy group of Monty Python, and directed by Gilliam and Jones. It was conceived during the hiatus ...more

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21
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Clint Eastwood

Actors: Emmy Rossum, Sean Penn, Kevin Bacon, Tim Robbins, Laurence Fishburne, + more

Released: 2003

Mystic River is a 2003 American mystery drama film directed and scored by Clint Eastwood. It stars Sean Penn, Tim Robbins, Kevin Bacon, Laurence Fishburne, Marcia Gay Harden, and Laura Linney. ...more

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22
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Jon Favreau filmography

Actors: Zooey Deschanel, Will Ferrell, Peter Dinklage, James Caan, Mary Steenburgen, + more

Released: 2003

Elf is a 2003 American Christmas comedy film directed by Jon Favreau and written by David Berenbaum. It stars Will Ferrell, James Caan, Bob Newhart, Ed Asner, and Zooey Deschanel. It was ...more

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23
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Ben Affleck

Actors: Ben Affleck, John Goodman, Bryan Cranston, Alan Arkin, Taylor Schilling, + more

Released: 2012

Argo is a 2012 American political thriller film directed by Ben Affleck. The film is adapted from U.S. Central Intelligence Agency operative Tony Mendez's book The Master of Disguise and Joshuah ...more

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24
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Robert De Niro

Actors: Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, Chazz Palminteri, Domenick Lombardozzi, Lillo Brancato, + more

Released: 1993

A Bronx Tale is a 1993 American drama film set in the Bronx during the turbulent era of the 1960s. It was the directorial debut of Robert De Niro that follows a young Italian-American teenager ...more

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25
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Gary Sinise

Actors: John Malkovich, Gary Sinise, Sherilyn Fenn, Joe Morton, Alexis Arquette, + more

Released: 1992

Of Mice and Men is a 1992 film based on John Steinbeck's novella of the same name. Directed and produced by Gary Sinise, the film features Sinise as George Milton alongside John Malkovich as ...more

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#189 of 336 'Old' Movies Every Young Person Needs To Watch In Their Lifetime #64 of 292 The Top Tearjerker Movies That Make Men Cry #224 of 548 The Greatest Movies for Guys