Hollywoods Triple Threats: 17 Actors who Write, Direct and Star In Their Own Films

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Charlie Chaplin as his famous Tramp character

A writer/director is a term we are all very familiar with; there is however another group. Those who undertake not just writer and directing duties but also play the role of the actor, often in leading roles! I present to you Hollywood’s Triple Threats, new and old alike.

1. Charlie Chaplin

Perhaps the most famous triple threat of all. Almost all of his films were written and directed by himself. He even went so far as to compose the film score!

Famous works

The Kid [1921]

The Gold Rush [1925]

The Great Dictator [1940]

A very young Orson Welles

2. Orson Welles

Renowned cinematic auteur, Welle’s made his debut showcasing all three of his talents.

Famous works

Citizen Kane [1941]

Macbeth [1948]

Touch of Evil [1958]

Eric von Stroheim and Lili Damita

3. Eric von Stroheim

Lesser known than the rest but no less talented, most will know Eric von Stroheim as the Butler in Sunset Boulevard. He is however also a very talented writer and director, known for his painstaking attention to detail as well as the excess of his films production budgets.

Famous works

Greed [1924]

Blind Husbands [1919]

Famous scene from Woody Allen’s Manhattan

4. Woody Allen

Every working actor dreams of the day they will get the phone call saying “Woody Allen would like to meet you”. After decades in the industry Allen has established himself as a talented and industrious triple threat.

Famous works

Annie Hall [1977]

Manhattan [1979]

Hannah and Her Sisters [1986]

Spike Lee as Mookie in Sal’s Pizzeria from Do The Right Thing

5. Spike Lee

Although lately more known for his directing talents, Spike started off showcasing all his skills often producing his own productions too.

Famous works

She’s Gotta Have It [1986]

Do the Right Thing [1989]

Ben Affleck directing Argo

6.Ben Affleck

Affleck has had a remarkable career, breaking in to the industry by co-writing a screenplay with long time friend Matt Damon.  The script would become the critical and box office smash Good Will Hunting.

Famous works

Argo [2012]

The Town [2010]

Jack Nicolson Directs and Stars in Goin South

7.Jack Nicholson

Not many know of Jack’s ability to multi-task. He has been writing, directing, and starring in films for years.

Famous works

The Two Jakes [1991]

Goin’ South [1978]

Marlon Brando directing One-Eyed Jacks (1961)

8. Marlon Brando

We all know this name and can reel off countless classics from his filmography. But Brando did write, direct, and star in one film. He had intended to work on many more, but due to lack of creative control (his over 5 hours run time was drastically cut) he abandoned the idea in typical Brando-like fashion.

Famous works

Marlon Brando-One-Eyed Jacks [1961]

Kenneth Branagh behind the camera

9. Kenneth Branagh

Incredibly talented actor who is just as at home in contemporary dramas as he is in the great classical plays.

Famous works

Henry V [1989]

Much Ado About Nothing [1993]

Hamlet [1996]

Billy Bob Thornton in his Directorial debut Sling Blade

10. Billy Bob Thornton

This actors’ debut is an unbelievable showcase of talent. Wrote, directed, Starring, and produced by, it forms one helluva introduction.

Famous work

Sling Blade [1996]

Sylvester Stallone in Rocky II

11. Sylvester Stallone

You gotta give it to Stallone, the guy is industrious and determined. Unhappy with the lack of acting work he was getting he decided to write a film specifically to showcase himself as an actor. His first screenplay would become the now iconic Rocky, and although he only wrote and starred in this (it was directed by John G. Avildsen), the sequels would be Directed by Stallone.

Famous works

Rocky 2

The Expendables

12. Kevin Smith

Always the joker, his comedic skills and directing ability are far from a joke.

Famous works


Chasing Amy

Noel Clarke wrote, directed and starred in Adulthood

13. Noel Clarke

Clarke is on the rise; starting out again as an actor like so many on this list he began writing a feature script to showcase his talents. He is now known as much for his writing and directing as his acting.

Famous works



Helen Hunt directed and starred in Then She Found Me

14. Helen Hunt

Renowned for her powerful acting performances, Hunt has also explored the Writer/director Avenue.

Famous works

Then She Found Me

Johnny Depp’s directorial debut

15. Johnny Depp

Yep that’s right, even the Depp man wanted to find out what all this writing and directing was all about.

Famous works

The Brave [1997]

16. Tyler Perry

Perry has been acting and writing for years now, creating the now famous character Madea.

Famous works

Diary of a Mad Black Woman

Madea’s Family Reunion

Clint Eastwood Directed and starred in The Unforgiven

17. Clint Eastwood

Of course we can’t forget Mr Eastwood. This film vet has been starring and directing in films for decades.

Famous works

Play Misty for Me

Unforgiven [1992]

Million Dollar Baby

Gran Torino [2009]

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