No one was surprised by yesterday’s news that Matt Damon would finally take his place in the director’s chair. Since co-writing Good Will Hunting and enjoying an amazing apprenticeship with Hollywood’s greatest working directors (like Clint Eastwood), the Oscar-winner actually seemed overdue to join his friend Ben Affleck on the other side of the camera. Maybe it’s his Harvard pedigree or his thoughtful talk-show banter, but Damon always seemed like an actor with vision and ambition who would thrive creatively as the captain of the film production.
As a result, Damon spent the last several years answering the question, “So when are you going to direct?”, and now that’s he’s committed to directing a small-town drama co-written by John Krasinski, we can pose the same question to other actors we’d like to see join the ranks of George Clooney, Sean Penn, Tom Hanks, Robert De Niro, Denzel Washington, and Sarah Polley as actor auteurs.
Below, I’ve listed my top-5 actors who I most want to hear say, “Action!”:
5. Mark Wahlberg: His fingerprints are practically on every successful HBO show, so Wahlberg certainly wouldn’t have any difficulty getting a green-light. With The Fighter, he proved he could get a movie made through the sheer force of his personality and determination.
4. Daniel Day Lewis: He’s so focused in front of the camera that you might not want to distract him with directing duties, but like De Niro and Jack Nicholson, there’s simply nothing more he can prove as an actor. Directing might be a welcome challenge.
3. Natalie Portman: Intelligent and savvy, the 30-year-old star resembles Jodie Foster and Polley as precocious child stars who’ve blossomed as multi-hyphenates. She’s written, produced, and even directed one of the shorts from New York, I Love You. A feature seems like just a matter of time.
2. Emma Thompson: To me, she’s always felt like that favorite high-school teacher, first crush, or understanding young aunt — all qualities every good director should have. At the very least, her sets would be full of wit and good humor. (Recall her Golden Globe acceptance speech for writing Sense and Sensibility.)
1. Leonardo DiCaprio: Like Damon, DiCaprio’s been directed by the best (Scorsese, Spielberg, Mendes, Cameron, Nolan) and he’s currently the biggest star in the business. He might not be in a rush to take on directing duties, but I see him inevitably following in the footsteps of leading men like Warren Beatty and Robert Redford.
What actors and actresses are you most interested in seeing direct?