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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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  • Gran Torino1
    1,387
    366

    Gran Torino

    Clint Eastwood

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

    Released2008

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  • Dances with Wolves2
    1,105
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    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

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  • Iron Man3
    1,141
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    Iron Man

    Jon Favreau

    ActorsRobert Downey Jr., Terrence Howard, Jeff Bridges

    Released2008

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

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  • Groundhog Day4
    959
    353

    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

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  • Braveheart5
    1,249
    580

    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

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  • A Beautiful Mind6
    783
    326

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

    Released2001

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  • A Quiet Place7
    671
    35

    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

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  • Stand by Me8
    1,047
    340

    Stand by Me

    Rob Reiner

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

    Released1986

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  • Rush9
    792
    252

    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
  • Unforgiven10
    1,071
    292

    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

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  • Backdraft11
    623
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    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

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  • Dead Man Walking12
    1,363
    323

    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

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  • Citizen Kane13
    630
    323

    Citizen Kane

    Orson Welles

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

    Released1941

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  • The Cable Guy14
    576
    174

    The Cable Guy

    Ben Stiller

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

    Released1996

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  • The Passion of the Christ15

    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

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  • Sling Blade16
    607
    330

    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

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  • A River Runs Through It17
    601
    327

    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

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  • Million Dollar Baby18
    761
    339

    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

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  • The Apostle19
    274
    137

    The Apostle

    Robert Duvall

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

    Released1997

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  • Hoffa20
    367
    152

    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
  • Monty Python and the Holy Grail21

    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

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  • Zoolander22
    279
    65

    Zoolander

    Ben Stiller

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

    Released2001

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  • Colors23
    324
    107

    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

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  • Best in Show24
    250
    130

    Best in Show

    Christopher Guest

    ActorsJane Lynch, Jennifer Coolidge, Parker Posey, Catherine O'Hara, Christopher Guest

    Released2000

    Best in Show is a 2000 American improvisational comedy film written and directed by...  more

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  • Argo25
    516
    352

    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

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