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The Actor-to-Director Pipeline Is Flourishing More Than Ever Before!

Written by Nathan Rubin. Published: June 13 2024


Although the actor-to-director pipeline is nothing new to some of the biggest stars of Hollywood’s history — Ron Howard, Rob Reiner, the list goes on — in recent years, we’ve seen a huge uptick in the transformation of talent that runs deep in the entertainment industry’s roots. In Hollywood, it’s hard to have your voice heard. Even among the A-list, many stars struggle to have any say in what eventually gets displayed on the silver screen. But why is there such a fierce boost in the past decade of actors wanting to switch career paths and break their own professional boundaries, especially early into their careers?


Ben Affleck made his directing debut all the way back in 2007 with Gone Baby Gone, continuing a slow and steady trail of projects, which he oftenstars in, leading all the way to last year’s Air. Jordan Peele recently departed from the likes of Comedy Central to embark on his own creative venture that eventually sprouted into his own company, Monkeypaw Productions, responsible for powerhouse horror movies like Get Out, Us, and Nope


The list goes on. John Krasinski began his directing ventures with 2009’s Brief Interviews With Strange Men, which met with mediocre reviews, but he kept strong by directing several episodes of the U.S. version of hit show "The Office". He moved on to create the world of The Quiet Place and has several upcoming projects. Perhaps recent multi-hyphenate star Ayo Edibiri is attempting to follow this path, as she is confirmed to have directed an episode of the upcoming Season 3 of hit Hulu series "The Bear". Edibiri has a history of comedy performance and has earned numerous awards as of recent due to her performances in various films and series, but she seems to be making a move to expand her resume.


Other notable persons that have undergone this transition recently are Zoë Kravitz, Charlie Day, and even the likes of Greta Gerwig and Bradley Cooper, who directed recent Oscar contenders Barbie and Maestro, respectively. 


There are many possible explanations for these ventures. Hollywood is a complicated place, but one strong truth is that everyone wants to have their voice heard. Some may want to venture into directing simply to elevate their star power and gain more creative freedom in an industry that constantly demands they stretch and bend their wants and needs in order to succeed. 


Others may simply be exhausted by being flattened into one creative role, as many have cited acting as a tiring and unrelenting job. Some likely want to be on the other side of the camera after enduring a life of being perceived, scrutinized, and criticized constantly by fans and collaborators alike. As an actor, you’re often not in control of how you appear publicly, much less where you live or what kind of person you need to be. Being a director is all about control, whether it be letting go of it or completely latching onto it. 


And, different still, some stars may simply be trying to have some fun with their careers. Trying something new, expressing their creativity in an unfamiliar way with the platform they’ve already created for themselves. Everyone’s reasons for their professional choices are singular and unique. On the back of the strikes and with a new industry forming in front of our eyes, though, we’re sure to see more of this trend as actors continue to decide they won’t be defined by one title.