Tom Hanks, Al Pacino, Barbra Streisand, and more take over the director's chair

By Marion Hart
Updated August 23, 1996 at 04:00 AM EDT

What is it about actors wanting to direct? With everyone from Tom Hanks (That Thing You Do!) to Al Pacino (Looking for Richard) stepping out of the camera’s range to tackle the headaches lurking behind it, we asked some first-timers what the appeal is. Their answer: It’s simple — as a director you get to…

Call the Shots: The craft service always stocks your favorite bagel — and you yell ”Action!” Campbell Scott (Dying Young), who codirected Big Night with its star and his pal Stanley Tucci, says the cue was the only logistical detail they nailed down before starting: ”When he was acting I’d say ‘Action!’ and ‘Cut!’ The rest of the time he would.” The shoot went smoothly but wrapped with both dead tired. ”A director’s work never ends,” marvels Tucci. Scott: ”We thought we’d die.”

Cast Yourself: ”The problem with acting is you don’t get to choose your work,” explains Steve Buscemi, who went the Woody Allen/Barbra Streisand route by giving himself the lead in his Trees Lounge. ”I [played] a part that was different from what I’d been doing,” which helped him branch out and get over his beginner’s jitters. ”Acting relaxed me.”

Learn New Tricks: Twenty-four days filming in a claustrophobic room without showing the actual walls was just the stretch Albino Alligator director Kevin Spacey needed: ”I walk away from my first time completely hooked. I loved being the storyteller, and the challenge of learning.” Will he do it again? ”The needle’s in my arm and I’m running out of serum.” Guess so.