Matt Damon to Ellen Page: the next wave of actors turned directors

Many popular actors are looking to make a move behind the camera

Matt Damon and Ben Affleck won the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay all those years ago with Good Will Hunting. Now - after pledging support for his friend’s decision to don the Batsuit - the former might be about the [sic] follow the latter and start a directing career.

Damon is being linked with A Foreigner, currently being written by Argo scribe Chris Terrio. Given Terrio’s previous script helped Affleck’s film win Best Film at this year’s Academy Awards, it seems like a sensible choice for Damon.

It’s inevitable that many will (perhaps unfairly) compare Damon’s debut, if and when it arrives, with Affleck’s successful behind the camera efforts. But they’ll both be part of a long tradition of actors turned directors - a tradition that encompasses everyone from Charlie Chaplin to Ben Stiller and Takeshi Kitano to Orson Welles.

Mel Gibson, Sylvester Stallone, Ron Howard and others have tonnes of awards to show for their efforts, and even lesser known ones like Thomas McCarthy have enjoyed critical and commercial success.

For every Clint Eastwood, though, there’s a Robert de Niro or Eddie Murphy struggling to convince viewers the move was a wise one. If turning to directing allows some actors to explore new creative avenues, it might confirm others will always perform best under someone else’s direction.

Even if we have to wait a while for ‘directed by Matt Damon’ to hit screens, it won’t be long at all before we get the chance to see some other actors taking their chances behind the camera. Here are four to look forward to.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt - Don Jon

The young Mr. Gordon-Levitt has become extremely in-demand in recent times, so kudos to him for finding the time to write, direct and star in Don Jon. He’s managed to draft in Scarlett Johansson and Julianne Moore. Early screenings have enjoyed enthusiastic reviews. Currently sitting at 89% on Rotten Tomatoes, it has received particular praise for its humour, charm and originality. It’s due out here in November.

Scarlett Johannson - Summer Crossing

Starring in Don Jon might have been the inspiration Johannson needed to make a film herself. She's said to be preparing an adaptation of Truman Capote's Summer Crossing.

Ellen Page - Miss Stevens

26-year-old Page is already planning to build on her successful acting career, and her first project as director will be this comedy starring Anna Farris as a high school teacher accompanying her students on a trip to a drama contest. We’re guessing hijinks ensue. The film’s still in early production, but expect it sometime next year.

James Franco - Child of God / As I Lay Dying

The last 5 years have seen Franco directing a dizzying amount of projects both short and feature-length, mostly of an experimental persuasion. However, Child of God and As I Lay Dying both have a better chance of hitting Irish cinema screens than anything Franco has directed before. The former is a Cormac McCarthy adaptation playing at the Venice Film Festival this week. The latter sees Franco tackling Faulkner, and premiered at Cannes to encouragingly positive feedback.

Lake Bell - In A World...

Her name might not be as familiar as others mentioned here, but Lake Bell frequently graces screens in supporting roles, and has enjoyed a particularly healthy TV career in shows like Boston Legal and comedy Childrens Hospital. It’s her writing / directing debut In A World..., though, that has really gotten people to notice her (she also stars, which probably helps).

The film - which bases its story around the classic, gruff movie trailer voiceover - has earned 91% on Rotten Tomatoes as of writing, consensus again determining it to be a funny and charming film. Irish viewers don’t need to wait long to see what all the fuss is about - it’s released in September.


haven't been able to stand james franco ever since he got into social media, smh