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Over the past 15 years there has been an increase in the amount of famous Hollywood actors who have decided to have a go at directing a movie. Some actors like Ben Affleck have been successful, and some such as Eddie Murphy haven’t been so lucky. Affleck’s Argo (2012) won Best Picture at the 85th Academy Awards, while Eddie Murphy’s Harlem Nights (1989) saw him win the Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Screenplay. With Jon Favreau’s latest film Chef (2014) set to be released in UK cinemas next week, we look at the top 5 American actors who became successful film and television directors.

5. Bryan Cranston
breaking bad 5x9Until 2008, Bryan Cranston was best known for his portrayal of Hal on Fox’s Malcolm in the Middle (2000-2006). Since then, Cranston has gone on to star in AMC’s Breaking Bad (2008-2013), one of the most successful TV dramas of the 21st century. Cranston is yet to direct a feature film, but he has directed several episodes of Malcolm in the Middle and Breaking Bad, as well as two episodes of ABC’s Modern Family and one episode of The Office (U.S). With any luck, in the next few years we will see Cranston directing a feature film for the big screen.

4. Buster Keaton
A notorious silent film actor in the 1920s, 30s and 40s, Buster Keaton was well-known for his physical slap-stick comedy. In his long career, he starred in over 50 films including shorts and independent productions. He also directed 25 films, such as The General (1926), Our Hospitality (1923) and Sherlock, Jr. (1924). Praised by his contemporaries in polls and interviews, Buster Keaton will go down as one of the greatest film directors and vaudevillian comedians of all time.

3. Sofia Coppola
Daughter of legendary director Francis Ford Coppola (The Godfather (1972), The Godfather Part II (1974) and Apocalypse Now (1979) to name but a few), Sofia Coppola was always going to be under extreme pressure when it came to her presence in the film industry. At just 19 years of age, Sofia starred in her father’s The Godfather Part III (1990), and since then, she has become a successful film director. Her 2003 comedy-drama Lost in Translation won an Academy Award for best screenplay as well as three Golden Globes. With this warm and beautiful movie, Sofia Coppola has definitely lived up to expectations and left a positive mark on the film industry.

2. Clint Eastwood
From an ambiguous cowboy, to an unorthodox detective, Clint Eastwood has become a cultural icon of masculinity. Eastwood began directing in the early 1970s with his directorial debut Play Misty for Me, a 1971 psychological thriller. In his career as a director, Eastwood has directed over 30 feature films, including action films, westerns, and even dramas. He usually stars in most of his own pictures and has drawn praise from viewers and critics for his performances in Million Dollar Baby (2004) and Gran Torino (2008) – both of which were serious dramas. But Eastwood clearly hasn’t finished yet. His latest film, Jersey Boys (2014), is set to be released on June 20th and it promises to be as droll and poignant as his previous movies.

1. Woody Allen
Woody Allen wrote and starred in Clive Donner’s What’s New Pussycat? (1965) and was very disappointed with the end product. This encouraged Allen to direct every feature film that he would later write. Ever since he vowed to become a director, Allen has written and directed over forty films, some of which have won and been nominated for Academy Awards. Now in his seventies, Woody Allen continues to direct and star in feature films. He co-starred in John Turturro’s Fading Gigolo (2014) and his latest production, Magic in the Moonlight, will be released in July this year. Hopefully, Allen can continue writing and directing charming and witty feature films for the next ten to fifteen years.

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