Who is the greatest actor-director combo of all time?
They say there’s no ‘I’ in ‘team’, and the collaborative nature of the movie business is proof of this. Behind any awesome movie, there is a dedicated team of crew members and actors making it happen. When the right actor teams up with the right director, it is really something special.
Even one chance meeting can spark a lifetime of legendary collaborations. What makes a great actor/director partnership? Is it critical acclaim, iconic movie characters, or a film that catapults an actor and director into mainstream stardom? Maybe its all three!
5) Tim Burton and Johnny Depp
When Johnny was just a young heartthrob working on 21 Jump Street, Tim Burton chose him for Edward Scissor Hands (1990), a film that caked Johnny Depp in movie stardom as well as gothic make up. Both actor and director had an instant connection due to similar childhoods and an equally shared taste for the weird and eccentric.
Tim Burton and Johnny Depp have collaborated on nine films, so its safe to call them bros. Depp has played a myriad of eccentric characters, including an evil barber, the iconic Willy Wonka, a man thing with scissors for hands and a lovesick vampire. Part of Depp’s versatilely as an actor can be credited to Burton’s distinctive, vibrant and imaginative films.
Burton and Depp also deliver at the box office: Sleepy Hollow ($206 million), Charlie and the Chocolate Factory ($475 million), and Alice in Wonderland (over a $1 billion) are all box office hits. I’m sure there’s more weirdness to come from these two homies.
4) Wes Anderson and Bill MurrayThe legend Bill Murray in The Life Aquatic. Source: Dazed.
When Wes Anderson convinced Bill Murray to star in his second feature film, Rushmore (1998), it was the beginning of a great partnership. Murray has acted in every one of Anderson’s films since their first collaboration. At the time, Murray had taken time off from his acting career, but he was reborn once the duo started working together.
Rushmore was a mainstream hit and arguably one of Murray’s best performances up until that point. A far cry from his previous goofy comedy roles, it was here he really started to re-establish himself as a more versatile actor.
Murray is a notoriously difficult actor to work with, but Anderson writes roles specifically for him and surrounds him with actors he enjoys working with.
Thanks to Anderson, Murray has received critical acclaim for playing complex and deep characters in films like Moonrise Kingdom (2012), The Darjeeling Limited (2007), The Royal Tenenbaums (2001) and The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou (2004). Let’s hope there will be more in the future.
3) Christopher Nolan and Michael CaineChristopher Nolan and Michael Caine during the rejuvenating Batman trilogy. Source: CinemaBlend.
Michael Caine has had a long and impressive career, even without Nolan. But it’s this collaboration that sparked a whole new second wind in Caine’s career.
The Batman trilogy gave Caine a new generation of fans. Caine was at first hesitant to take the role of Alfred in Batman Begins (2005), but he loved Nolan’s take on the under appreciated character. I think we can all agree that no one could play Alfred quite like Michael Caine. He brought a loving fatherly vibe to the character that could only come out of a great collaboration.
But the partnership did not end there. The duo’s films since the Batman trilogy include massively successful films such as The Prestige (2006), Inception (2010) and Interstellar (2014). Let’s hope Caine doesn’t retire any time soon.
2) Quentin Tarantino and Samuel L. JacksonCheck these two out! Source: E!
While Samuel L. Jackson has appeared in over 150 films of all types and flavours, I feel we must acknowledge his humble beginnings with Quentin Tarantino. The duo have made seven films together, starting with True Romance (1993), a film Tarantino wrote but did not direct.
Jackson came into fame with Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction (1994), where he played hitman Jules Winnfield, a bible quoting, gun slinging badass. Tarantino wrote the part for Jackson, but a pretty ordinary audition nearly cost him the role.
Yet everything turned out well in the end. Jackson scored the role and was nominated for an oscar. Pulp Fiction became the first independent film to gross over $100 million dollars and one of Tarantino’s most well known cult classics.
But the good times and great collaborations didn’t stop there. Jackson went on to appear in Jackie Brown (1997), Kill Bill (2003), Inglorious Bastards (2009), Django Unchained (2012) and The Hateful Eight (2015). Quite the resume. Tarantino has stated that he will only make two more films, so let’s hope Jackson scores a role in both.
1) Martin Scorsese and Robert De NiroThe greatest: De Niro and Scorsese on set of Taxi Driver. Source: ABC.
Scorsese and De Niro have collaborated on nine separate films, several of which are considered the greatest of all time.
Scorsese’s early films were gritty crime dramas, often criticised for being extremely violent. This is definitely the case with the duo’s first collaboration, Mean Streets (1973), which depicts the criminal world of Little Italy in New York. The personal history and nostalgia of Scorsese was layered all over the film and De Niro did a masterful job playing a troublesome punk and depicting the brotherhood of mafia boys.
This film put both men on the map, starting a partnership which would last for over twenty years.
But it was their next film, Taxi Driver (1976), which elevated them into the cinema hall of fame. In this film De Niro plays Travis Bickel: a mentally unstable Vietnam veteran turned cab driver turned vigilante. The film scored four oscar nominations, and for good reason.
Many film buffs praise this film as one of the best of all time. This is due to both Scorsese’s realistic bleak portrayal of some of the darker elements of humanity, and Robert De Niro’s visceral method acting. A match made in hell, but beautiful in its own twisted way. In my opinion there’s no one better than these two legends. I hope we haven’t seen the last of them.
Do you agree with our list? Who are your favourite actor/director combos? Let us know!