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Bright young things: The next generation of actors-turned-directors

5th November 2012

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This week, spy thriller Argo is set to explode onto UK screens and if America’s response is anything to go by, it will get audiences nationwide talking about not only the “so ridiculous, it must be true” storyline, but also about actor/director Ben Affleck - described by one national newspaper as "the most talented actor-turned-director since Clint Eastwood."

To celebrate the release of Argo on November 7th, we take a look at other actors who have gone behind the lens to breathe a new lease of life into film direction.

Jon Favreau

After appearing in a number of rudimentary roles and doing voice work, Jon Favreau decided to take a risk and write himself and pal Vince Vaughan in what turned out to be their breakout film Swingers (1996). His talent now recognised on and off the camera meant that he could yoyo between the two, appearing in Dogtown (1996), Deep Impact (1998) and as a recurring character in sitcom Friends, as well as directing Made (2001) and Elf (2003). However it was his unique take on the comic book genre in surprise smash-hit Iron Man (2008) that established Jon Favreau as a premier league director with the superhero flick taking over $585 million worldwide.

George Clooney

Gorgeous George proved that he was more than just a pretty face when he moved behind the camera in 2005 to direct Good Night And Good Luck. Beginning his career as a heartthrob in E.R, George Clooney made the transition into movies with leading roles in Batman & Robin (1997), Out of Sight (1998) and The Thin Red Line (1998). Despite earning big at the box office as a suave ladies’ man in the likes of Ocean’s Eleven (2001), Intolerable Cruelty (2003) and Up In The Air (2009), it was directing The Ides Of March (2011) which earned him an Oscar nomination and critical credibility. Also the producer of numerous high profile releases including Michael Clayton, The Informant! and… you guessed it - Argo.

Angelina Jolie

Originally an indie film favourite in the nineties, Angelina Jolie has successfully carved out a credible big-budget career over the last decade since winning an Oscar for her haunting performance in Girl, Interrupted (1999). Bursting onto box office success with powerful, high octane roles in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001), Mr & Mrs Smith (2005) and Changeling (2008), Angelina Jolie used her celebrity status to highlight humanitarian efforts in developing countries. This was most evident in 2011 when she directed her first film In The Land Of Blood And Honey, about the Bosnian War, which received both critical acclaim and praise from the United Nations.

Drew Barrymore

Re-invention best describes Drew Barrymore’s illustrious career. After being cast in Spielberg classic E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (1982) aged six, she suffered a highly-publicised, troubled adolescence before setting her star rising once again with Scream (1996), The Wedding Singer (1998) and Never Been Kissed (1999). Her turn in box-office smash Charlie’s Angels (2000) cemented her place in the Hollywood elite and allowed her to take starring roles in numerous popular romantic comedies, however her directional debut Whip It (2009) proved that she still had the ability to surprise as critics labelled it an instant indie classic.

Ben Affleck

Ben Affleck made an extraordinary impact on the acting community when he and friend Matt Damon, tired of being cast in forgettable supporting roles, wrote and starred in Good Will Hunting (1997). The film was nominated for nine Oscars, won the pair their first Academy Award and catapulted them onto the A-list. Ben Affleck hit the ground running with performances in blockbusters Armageddon (1998), Pearl Harbour (2001) and Paycheck (2003), but it wasn’t until he took the helm on Gone Baby Gone (2007) and The Town (2010)  that he really found his comfort zone in directing gritty thrillers. Ben Affleck’s newest film, Argo, based on the 1980 CIA-Canadian operation in Iran, has been widely praised and looks to be returning the director to where his career began and where it should remain: on the Academy stage.

Argo is in cinemas nationwide from November 7th

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