10 Top Actors Who Turned Into Directors
This week at Cannes, Ryan Gosling debuted his feature as a director with Lost River (previously titled the much more mysterious How to Catch a Monster), and people are excited. Gosling has worked with Terrence Malick, Nicolas Winding Refn, Derek Cianfrance, and George Clooney, and it seems reasonable to assume that he’s picked up a few things here and there. The film is getting a lot of hype because, duh, Ryan Gosling, but also because its premise involves a young mother played by Christina Hendricks entering a dark, underwater fantasy realm. Plus, Ben Mendelsohn has a supporting role, and he’s basically a modern version of Roger Ebert’s Walsh-Stanton rule: No movie that features M. Emmet Walsh or Harry Dean Stanton can be entirely bad.
We’ve chosen ten actors who went on to become important filmmakers. (Some ostensibly obvious choices, such as Woody Allen and Mel Brooks, are absent because they really got their starts as writers, not actors.)
Laughton only directed one film, but what a film it is. Night of the Hunter, a hallucinatory, noirish adaptation of David Grubb’s novel, has the air of a fairytale and the expressionistic aesthetics of a German silent film. Set in West Virginia, the film depicts a serial killer posing as a preacher, played with dizzying charisma by the inimitable Robert Mitchum. Mitchum’s preacher seduces a young widow, whose recently departed husband, Mitchum learns, has hidden stolen money somewhere at his home. The film lulls you into a gaze with Mitchum’s dolorous sense of restraint, his charm, and his tranquil niceties, and slowly slips deeper into a strange, nightmarish realm where shadows jete across walls with menace and only two colors exist: black and white.