Top 5 Director/Actor Partnerships: Eddie’s Take

Fincher and Pitt

David Fincher and his frequent collaborator Brad Pitt on the Benjamin Button set

List compiled by Eddie on 1/07/2016

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Sometimes (more rarely in today’s climate) directors and actors come together to create a team that delivers the goods.

Getting the best out of each other, it’s always a joy when artists like the ones listed below can work together and create movie making magic and each of the representatives chosen below have done that together more than once and showcased an ability to work in tandem in the efforts to produce movie making gold.

Here’s hoping that the duos below are far from finished when it comes to teaming up, as based upon their efforts so far, the movie lovers all around the world would be more than willing to jump on board once more.

For Jordan’s Top 5 list click HERE

Happy reading and happy watching!

hawke and Linklater

Richard Linklater and his long term friend Ethan Hawke on the most recent Before outing

 5. Richard Linklater and Ethan Hawke

Total films together = 8

Before Sunrise (1995), The Newton Boys (1998), Waking Life (2001), Tape (2001), Before Sunset (2004), Fast Food Nation (2006), Before Midnight (2013), Boyhood (2014)

Indie darlings who have both sometimes flirted with the mainstream, Linklater and Hawke have been working together for over 20 years now on a range of boundary pushing projects like Waking Life, the Before trilogy and most recently the decade plus experiment Boyhood. When teaming up together both Linklater and Hawke have produced some of their very best products and it’s likely they’re not finished with each other yet.

Best collaboration – Before Sunrise (1995)

4. The Coen Brothers and John Goodman

Total films together = 6

Raising Arizona (1987), Barton Fink (1991), The Hudsucker Proxy (1994), The Big Lebowski (1998), O Brother Where Art Thou? (2000), Inside Llewyn Davis (2013)

While not exactly pushing each other dramatically, The Coen’s and Goodman have for almost 3 decades now been providing movie goers with comedic treats that have allowed the versatile Goodman to showcase his comedic chops with colourful characters and often colourful language and its clear for all to see that the 3 masters have a blast working together.

Best collaboration – The Big Lebowski (1998)

3. David Fincher and Brad Pitt

Total films together = 3

Se7en (1995), Fight Club (1999), The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008)

David Fincher and Brad Pitt may’ve only made the 3 films together but what a 3 films to make. The gritty and genre redefining Se7en, the box office flop turned beloved Fight Club and the misunderstood and magical Curious Case of Benjamin Button are all brilliant films in their own rights and Fincher has drawn out 3 of Brad Pitt’s very best performances and showcased to the world what an actor he is as well as marking himself down as one of the industry’s best filmmakers.

Best collaboration – Fight Club (1999)

2. Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks

Total films together = 4

Saving Private Ryan (1998), Catch Me If You Can (2002), The Terminal (2004), Bridge of Spies (2015)

The two veterans of the industry took their time to team up but once they did they made it worth the wait. From realistic dramas through to fun and popcorn munching thrillers, Spielberg and Hanks have found great success in their collaborations even if the relatively disappointing The Terminal was far from their best work. After last year’s brilliant spy thriller Bridge of Spies here’s hoping the two masters aren’t finished working together just yet.

Best collaboration – Saving Private Ryan (1998)

1. Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio

Total films together = 5

Gangs of New York (2002), The Aviator (2004), The Departed (2006), Shutter Island (2010), The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)

In what was once an amazing partnership with Robert De Niro became an equally impressive pairing with Leonardo DiCaprio. Master director Martin Scorsese found his creative muse DiCaprio at just the right time with the two making the 2000’s their own and delivering some of the decades most accomplished all round products. With Scorsese at the helm, DiCaprio found all new levels performance wise and the two industry greats have proven to be the most memorable double act in quite some time.

Best collaboration – Shutter Island (2010)

Scorsese and DiCaprio

Gangs of New York marked the first of many partnerships between Leonardo DiCaprio and Martin Scorsese

Special Mention –

Clint Eastwood and Clint Eastwood

Total films together = 22

Play Misty For Me (1971), High Plains Drifter (1973), The Eiger Sanction (1975), The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976), The Gauntlet (1977), Bronco Billy (1980), Firefox (1982), Honkeytonk Man (1982), Sudden Impact (1983), Pale Rider (1985), Heartbreak Ridge (1986), White Hunter Black Heart (1990), The Rookie (1990), Unforgiven (1992), A Perfect World (1993), The Bridges of Madison County (1995), Absolute Power (1997), True Crime (1999), Space Cowboys (2000), Blood Work (2002), Million Dollar Baby (2004), Gran Torino (2008)

He must get on with himself quiet well this Eastwood fellow as 22 films as an actor and director is some effort! While there’s the odd outright dud amongst the list of 20 plus films listed above there’s certainly a fair portion of quality films that have all added up to making Eastwood not only one of the all-time great actors but all-time great directors who seems to be getting better as the years draws on. Hats (preferably of the cowboy variety) off to the Eastwood double act I say!

Best collaboration – Unforgiven (1992)


Eastwood directing Unforgiven, a film that would cement his position as an all time great filmmaker

Honourable mentions – Alfred Hitchcock + James Stewart, Sergio Leone + Clint Eastwood, Quentin Tarantino + Samuel L. Jackson, Christopher Nolan + Michael Caine, John Huston + Humphrey Bogart, Billy Wilder + Jack Lemmon, Akira Kurosawa + Toshiro Mifune

Who are your favorite Director/Actor partnerships? Is there a duo we’ve forgotten? Let us know in the comments below!

15 responses to “Top 5 Director/Actor Partnerships: Eddie’s Take

  1. What, no mention of the love affair between Tim Burton and Johnny Depp? I mean they made so many good films together. Like…. Well, there was that one that was….

  2. i ADORE the ‘Before’ series. I don’t think I’ve ever found a more honest and engaging depiction of human relationships. Watching those movies I feel like I’ve had those exact conversations at different moments in my mid-twenties and early-thirties. I’ll have to wait a little bit longer before seeing if ‘Before Midnight’ is as accurate though!

  3. Nice one guys. There is also Robert De Niro with Scorsese I think they did 9. Thing that I did not know is the 22 with Clint’s son. Interesting doing TOP 5 DIRECTOR/ACTOR PARTNERSHIPS.

  4. The best thing about the DiCaprio/Scorsese collaborations is how much better of an actor DiCaprio became. Before Gangs of New York, DiCaprio was a mediocre actor at best. If it wasn’t for Scorsese, DiCaprio wouldn’t be an Oscar-winning actor. Scorsese pulled something out of him that DiCaprio wasn’t tapping into, and was the key in DiCaprio’s transition from cute child-actor to strong adult leading man.

  5. nice lists, both of you! I’d definitely like to see a Wes Anderson partnership up there though, with one of his usual crew! Jason Schwartzman and Bill Murray would probably be my two top picks.

  6. Great choices. I think Kurosawa and Mifune might be my favorite out of the ones you mentioned. They made about 2/3 of Kurosawa’s portfolio of work together. Out of the ones not mentioned, Jeff Nichols and Michael Shannon. They’ve made 4 great films together so far.

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