Earlier this month, Ryan Gosling cast girlfriend Eva Mendes in his directorial debut, How to Catch a Monster. With production on the fantasy film set to begin this May, Gosling is a few months away from the joys and challenges of directing a significant other.
But Gosling is hardly the first director to cast his sweetheart in his own movie. Woody Allen is famous for dating (and sometimes marrying) many of his leading ladies, and Paul Newman also directed wife Joanne Woodward in multiple films.
Here’s a round-up of other men who have directed their actress significant others — some of whom are still going strong, while others’ relationships are in the rear-view mirror.
Paul W.S. Anderson and Milla Jovovich
This couple met while working on 2002’s Resident Evil. Since they began dating in 2003 (with a wedding following in 2009), Anderson and Jovovich have made four more films in the lucrative zombie franchise. The British director also cast his wife in his 2011 adaptation of The Three Musketeers.
Anderson on directing Jovovich: “I always call her the hardest working person in show business. I’ve never met an actor as dedicated as she is. She’s like the Terminator, relentless. It can be 2 a.m. in the morning, and she suggests we talk about some aspect of the film. How about we don’t, Milla? But we both just love making movies.” [Huffington Post]
Jovovich on working with Anderson: “I tell Paul every day, he spoils me. It is such a pleasure. We have our family together. We do these fun movies together. What am I going to do when I have to go work with somebody else?” [Huffington Post]
Are they still together? Yep. And they’re planning to continue their working relationship too — both are expected to return for a sixth Resident Evil installment.
Len Wiseman and Kate Beckinsale
While Anderson is directing zombie-slaying Jovovich, Wiseman directs his butt-kicking wife in vampire series Underworld. He also cast her in last summer’s Total Recall remake.
Wiseman on directing Beckinsale’s love scenes with other men: “It’s amazing how much your blood boils immediately if you call cut and it doesn’t stop right way. On Underworld, I was being very polite and they didn’t hear me. You’ve got to stop when I call cut. So now I make a point of having a megaphone during love scenes.” [Celebuzz]
Still together? Yes. Things didn’t work out as well for Beckinsale and longtime boyfriend Michael Sheen — who got a part in Underworld thanks to Beckinsale’s recommendation — when the English actress ended up falling for her director. But Sheen kept things classy and amicable: He returned for the 2006 sequel and 2009 prequel, starring opposite his ex.
Sam Mendes and Kate Winslet
This pair had already racked up a combined five Oscar nominations by the time Winslet set her heart on adapting 1961 book Revolutionary Road. They teamed their talents together when Winslet convinced her husband to helm the project. She also brought aboard her Titanic co-star and best friend, Leonardo DiCaprio, to play her character’s husband in the story of a troubled marriage.
Mendes on directing Winslet: “It was very exhilarating to finally work with my wife, and I saw a side of her I just didn’t know. I suppose I was really struck by two things: One is just her attention to detail, and the other is when she’s acting she looks like my Kate — her face is no different, she’s not wearing prosthetics and there’s no ageing or anything like that — but she is just a different person. I didn’t see her on the set — I just saw the character she was playing. It was remarkable.” [The Telegraph]
”I will admit it was quite bizarre to direct my wife in how to make love. But it’s difficult whether you’re married to a person or not.” [EW]
Winslet filming love scenes with DiCaprio: ”I just kept saying, ‘This is too f—ing weird.’ And Leo was like, ‘Oh, get over it.’ And I’m going, ‘Yeah, a little reminder: You’re my best friend. He’s my husband. This is a bit weird.”’ [EW]
Tim Burton and Helena Bonham Carter
This endearingly eccentric pair met while filming 2001’s Planet of the Apes. Since then, Burton has cast Bonham Carter in every feature he’s directed, with the exception of last year’s Frankenweenie.
Burton on directing Bonham Carter: “It’s quite easy. The fact is, before I met her, she’d done lots of things. She’s very secure in what she does. There’s no conflict. She’s the most secure actress I’ve ever met. So there are no problems — yet!… When we did Sweeney Todd, I didn’t want to seem like I was giving the job to my girlfriend or anything. I was probably harder on her for that reason — I just wanted to make sure that she was really, really right for it.” [Total Film]
Still together? Yes. They haven’t tied the knot yet, though Bonham Carter has said that their two children have repeatedly pestered her and Burton to get married.
Guy Ritchie and Madonna
The queen of pop started dating this English filmmaker after they met through mutual friends Sting and his wife, Trudie Styler, in 1999. They married in late 2000, and Ritchie later cast his wife in romantic comedy Swept Away. He also directed the controversial music video for her 2001 single “What It Feels Like for a Girl.”
Ritchie on directing Madonna: “We had a shorthand so we could officially get down to business.” [The Guardian]
Madonna on working with Ritchie: “We saved the physical stuff to the very end of the shooting. And I think everyone expected bombs to go off. The whole crew was waiting for Guy’s head to explode off of his body.” [The Guardian]
Darren Aronofsky and Rachel Weisz
The Requiem for a Dream director originally had planned for his century-jumping epic, The Fountain, to star Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett. But when Warner Bros. slashed the budget, Aronofsky reworked the script and in 2004 cast Hugh Jackman and Weisz, whom he had been dating for three years.
Weisz on working with Aronofsky: “We had some fun times. I mean, Hugh and I would sometimes be sitting there and we’re, like, crying, you know? We thought we’d given the ultimate we could ever give and he went, ‘Okay, let’s do it again immediately,’ and you’d just do it again and again. I think he pushes you to the point where you’re no longer conscious of what you’re doing and for an actor, that is heaven. That’s what you want.” [About.com Guide]
Still together? No. The pair split in 2010 after nine years together. Weisz has since managed to get 007 himself to settle down — she married Daniel Craig in 2011 after they played newlyweds in the mystery thriller Dream House.
Joel Coen and Frances McDormand
The Coen brothers met McDormand when she auditioned for their 1984 directorial debut, Blood Simple. Soon after, she married the older of the two brothers, and since then, the Oscar-winning siblings have cast her in five other films, including Fargo, The Man Who Wasn’t There and Burn After Reading.
McDormand on working with Joel Coen: “The one thing that hasn’t changed is trust. I trust him a lot. What I think occurred to me in the last couple of years is that maybe I need to question that a little more, just so I can prepare myself for the outcome. I’m still in shock about The Man Who Wasn’t There… I tend to get more specific direction from Ethan now. Because of my intimate relationship with Joel, it’s easier for me to get direction from Ethan.” [BBC]
Still together? Yep. This couple is still going strong, nearing their 30th anniversary. Joel’s brother, Ethan, has also had a long relationship with a frequent collaborator, editor Tricia Cooke, whom he married in 1990.
Judd Apatow and Leslie Mann
This comedic pair met in 1995 when Mann auditioned for The Cable Guy and Apatow (who wrote and produced the Jim Carrey film) read Carrey’s part opposite his future wife. They married later that year, but a decade passed before Apatow worked professionally with Mann again, when he cast her in The 40 Year Old Virgin. Since then he hasn’t been able to stop: He also cast her in Knocked Up, Drillbit Taylor, Funny People and This Is 40.
Apatow joking about directing Mann’s scenes with Paul Rudd in This is 40: “I just say action, and I look away and I go, ‘Is it over? Is it over? I just make sure the shower door is very wet so I can’t see what’s actually happening. I don’t mind it though because Paul Rudd makes her sick. If she was really hot for Paul Rudd, that would trouble me. She liked Brendan Fraser a little bit too much. But with Rudd she’s grossed out. So I go, ‘Go lick him.’ Then it’s a punishment.” [PopSugar]
Still together? Yessiree. Now the question is, will Mann score a part in the growing cast of Apatow’s Anchorman sequel?
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