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ByAkos Peterbencze/Feb. 3, 2023 5:39 pm EST
It has become common in the film industry that many actors who excel in front of the camera have an aspiration to do the same behind it. It makes sense: if you spend most of your career working with various directors, you inadvertently learn a lot about the profession and develop an inclination to make your own vision on the big screen one day. We saw this happening decades ago with such legendary stars as Clint Eastwood, Robert Redford, and Tommy Lee Jones.
Nowadays, it occurs more frequently with actors you wouldn't necessarily expect to stand behind the camera and create fabulous pictures. Yet some of them became even better at it than performing. Actors like Ben Affleck, Greta Gerwig, and Rob Reiner turned into household names when it comes to filmmaking. Thankfully, the doors also open up more often for younger talents to emerge and get a chance to prove themselves as visionary storytellers. On this list, we'll feature a handful of upcoming movies directed by actors, some of which will serve as directorial feature debuts by young stars.
Barbie — Greta Gerwig
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Greta Gerwig andNoah Baumbach are two of the most celebrated directors in indie cinema right now, and they just so happen to be married.Gerwig has acted in Baumbach's films and other indie comedies and dramas, including 2008's "Nights and Weekends," which she also co-directed. However, her break as an auteur came nine years later with 2017's "Lady Bird," a coming-of-age comedy-drama that earned her five Oscar nominations, including one for Best Director. In 2019, she adapted Louisa May Alcott's 1868 novel, "Little Women," a period drama, which was also nominated for five Oscars (including Best Picture).
Her highly anticipated upcoming fourth feature (and third as a solo director), "Barbie," is co-written with her husband, and the buzz around it couldn't be louder. The film will star Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling as Barbie and Ken, in a world full of extravagant beauty and fashion, seeking true love and happiness — even if the titular character has to go through an existential crisis for not being perfect inside and out. We've already seen ateaser trailer for the movie, which paid hilarious homage to Stanley Kubrick's epic "2001: A Space Odyssey" and showed us a glance at what we can expect from this sure-to-be-delightful comedy. "Barbie" will be the first live-action adaptation of the Mattel fashion doll line and is set to premiere on July 21, 2023, in theaters.
Creed III — Michael B. Jordan
After portraying the son of Apollo Creed in "Creed" and "Creed II" with Sylvester Stallone's Rocky in his corner, Michael B. Jordan steps up as director in the last installment of the trilogy (in addition to playing the lead). This time without Rocky, Adonis has to face a ghost from his past who stirs up buried guilt, anger, and regret in him. His childhood friend Damian (Jonathan Majors) returns after finishing an 18-year-long prison sentence and seeks help from Adonis to get back into boxing. Naturally, the two fighters don't see eye to eye. A rivalry stemming from faded memories and regrets begins brewing between them. Eventually, they find themselves in the boxing ring, staring each other downin an epic battle for the ages.
"Creed III" will be Jordan's directorial debut after spending two decades acting in various television shows and multiple movies that brought him enormous fame. He appeared in such beloved TV classics as "The Wire," "Friday Night Lights," and "House M.D.," and critically praised movies like "Fruitvale Station," "Black Panther," and "Just Mercy." It will be interesting to see how he performs both in front of and behind the camera this time. It's safe to say that choosing a film in an already beloved franchise as his introduction as a director is a smart move — and it'll hopefully pay off in the best possible way. "Creed III" premieres March 3, 2023, in cinemas.
Pieces — Taylor Kitsch
Taylor Kitsch is one of those actors who should've made it big in Hollywood, but due to an unfortunate circumstance (in his case, the massive box office flop that "John Carter" ended up being), that never happened. He was on his way to becoming an A-lister, but his career flatlined before he got a chance to truly prove himself. Nevertheless, he'd found some success in television shows like Peter Berg's "Friday Night Lights," Nic Pizzolatto's "True Detective," and John Erick and Drew Dowdle's miniseries "Waco." He also delivered memorable performances in such critically acknowledged movies as Joseph Kosinski's "Only the Brave" and Peter Berg's "Lone Survivor." Now, he's given the opportunity to show off his skills as a filmmaker in the upcoming crime drama, "Pieces," which is based on his 2013 short film of the same name.
According toVariety, the actor will write, direct, produce, and star in the feature that's produced by Peter Berg, among others. The plot will follow Kitsch's character, a gambling addict with a huge debt who's planning to intercept a drug run with two of his best friends to settle the debt he owes. Naturally, things are expected to not go according to plan, and they need to navigate the city's underworld to find a solution to this life-threatening situation and make it out alive. There's no official premiere date for "Pieces" as of yet.
Hell of a Summer — Finn Wolfhard and Billy Bryk
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Finn Wolfhard needs no introduction to people familiar with "Stranger Things." The actor rose to worldwide fame when Netflix's nostalgic teen horror series kicked off in the summer of 2016 and became extremely popular. Since then, Wolfhard appeared in critically and commercially successful movies like Andy Muschietti's "It" and "It: Chapter Two," Jason Reitman's "Ghostbusters: Afterlife," and most recently, Jesse Eisenberg's directorial debut cringe-comedy "When You Finish Saving the World."
According to Deadline, "Hell of a Summer" is going to be a contemporary horror-comedy co-written and co-directed by Wolfhard and his fellow actor Billy Bryk. In an interview with Uproxx, Wolfhard talked about why he and Bryk wanted to make a flick that's truly authentic and entertaining when it comes to portraying teenagers on film. He said, "We were so sick of getting scripts that were so dumb that were just like these older people telling us what it's like to be a young person. We were just like, 'Who's going to make a movie about teenagers that's coming from the perspective of two teenagers?'" He continued, "I think that all the time. I think that's something that I've been kind of grappling with as a young actor for a long time." Currently, the story of "Hell of a Summer" and its planned release date is unknown. However, we know that Wolfhard and Bryk will star in the movie along with Fred Hechinger, who's known for his role as Quinn Mossbacher in the first season of "The White Lotus."
The Chronology of Water — Kristen Stewart
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Over the past two decades, Kristen Stewart has appeared in so many broadly different films that we know how versatile she can be. She no longer identifies solely as the "Twilight" girl but as an actress with depth, integrity, and a wide range. Critically acclaimed performances in movies like "Personal Shopper," "Spencer," and, most recently, David Cronenberg's disturbing body horror film "Crimes Of The Future" showed us how moving, controlled, versatile, and charismatic the actress can be outside of YA romance films.
For the first time, she also gets to show off her skills as a director. According to Deadline, Stewart will co-adapt (with screenwriter Andy Mingo) and direct the movie "The Chronology of Water," which is based on Lidia Yuknavitch's award-winning memoir of the same name.
The biopic will tell the life story of Yuknavitch — an American writer and teacher — who held the dream of becoming a competitive swimmer, a goal she wasn't able to reach due to the childhood trauma that drove her to drug and alcohol abuse as a teenager and adult. She'll be portrayed by Imogen Poots. Michael Pruss (one of the project's producers) said that the actress is "tailor-made for the lead role." Stewart also praised Poots' incredible talent and how lucky she is to have her in her corner. The supporting cast of the production and its release date hasn't been announced yet.
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Pussy Island — Zoë Kravitz
Zoë Kravitz's popularity skyrocketed last year with her outstanding performance as Selina Kyle aka Catwoman in Matt Reeves's box office hit "The Batman." Not that her career needed a pick-me-up, given the quality of shows ("Big Little Lies") and movies ("Kimi") she's appeared in recently. But what many people didn't know about Kravitz is that she's been developing her own movie, "Pussy Island," with screenwriter E.T. Feigenbaum, for five years (viaIndieWire). "Pussy Island" will be her directorial debut. In an interview with Elle, Kravitz shared that the script went through multiple rewrites until it started to take its final shape. She explained, "I started writing it pre-#MeToo, pre-Harvey [Weinstein]. Then the world started to have the conversation, so [the script] changed a lot. It became more about a power struggle and what that power struggle means."
According to Deadline, the plot will follow a Los Angeles waitress named Frida (Naomi Ackie) trying to seduce the handsome philanthropist and tech mogul Slater King (Channing Tatum). She manages to get an invitation to King's private island and is ready to take the next step to get closer to him. Despite the glamorous parties and luxurious settings populated by wealthy people, Frida begins to sense that there's something suspicious going on behind the scenes — something that brings to mind Jeffrey Epstein and his infamous parties on his private Caribbean island. You can probably guess the rest and what to expect from this thriller. "Pussy Island's" official release date hasn't been determined yet.
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I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter — America Ferrera
Actress and Emmy-winner America Ferrera isn't new to directing. She had the chance to direct four episodes of NBC's beloved sitcom "Superstore" (in which she appeared as one of the leads) and Netflix's charming comedy, "Gentefied," too. However, "I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter," based on Erika Sánchez's bestselling novel of the same name, will serve as Ferrera's directorial feature debut.
The drama follows Julia Reyes in Chicago, a bright and determined teenage daughter of first-generation Mexican immigrants, who doesn't necessarily represent the kind of person her parents want her to be. Julia is ambitious and rebellious, which often leads to confrontations with her rather traditional folks. However, they also have Olga, Julia's sister, who embodies the perfect child every Mexican parent can dream of. But due to a tragic accident, Olga dies. And Julia finds herself in a devastating situation, tasked with the impossible challenge of keeping her family together in a time of loss.
Ferrera shared her lovefor the source material (via Deadline), saying, "Years ago, I fell in love with Erika L. Sánchez's stunning novel. [...] The depth, wit and searing intelligence of her writing, and her young Latina heroine, struck me to my core and left me wanting so much more." She continued, "I am truly honored and humbled to direct Linda Yvette Chávez's beautifully adapted screenplay." The cast and the movie's release date are currently unknown.
IF — John Krasinski
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John Krasinski (Jim Halpert from "The Office") blew up the box office with his suspenseful and fantastic sci-fi horror "A Quiet Place." That success immediately put him on the radar as a promising filmmaker. It's safe to say that nobody expected a hit like that (especially not a monster flick) from an actor who mostly appeared in TV comedies and low-budget indie movies before. Since then, "A Quiet Place" became a franchise, and we got a sequel in 2020 (also directed by Krasinski) that ended up being another financial and critical success too. It was only a matter of time until Krasinski came out with his next idea for a new film. That time arrived last year when Paramount Pictures announced "IF" ("Imaginary Friends") with Krasinski set to write, direct, and star in (viaDeadline).
Although there isn't much info on what the picture will be about, we know that the film will introduce a child's adventure to rediscover their own imagination. Besides Krasinski, Steve Carell, Ryan Reynolds, Alan Kim, Fiona Shaw, Louis Gossett Jr., and Phoebe Waller-Bridge are also cast in the film. We even have an official release date. According toComingSoon.net, the feature is scheduled to premiere on May 24, 2024. Given this fantastic casting and Krasinski's track record with his previous directorial works, it's safe to say that we are in for a treat.
The Boys in the Boat — George Clooney
As a director, George Clooney has delivered some bangers since he first stepped behind the camera in 2002. Movies like "Confessions of a Dangerous Mind," "Good Night, and Good Luck," and "The Ides of March" were critical and commercial successes. With those, the actor showed he has what it takes to be a creative director. It's somewhat inexplicable how Clooney's last three directorial projects failed pretty badly. "Suburbicon," "The Midnight Sky," and even "The Tender Bar" (with an excellent performance by Ben Affleck) all had an unfavorable reception from critics and viewers. For some reason, Clooney just couldn't bring the quality his first few features had. Hopefully, the trajectory will change with his latest project, "The Boys in the Boat" — a biopic sports drama based on Daniel James Brown's non-fiction novel, "The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics."
According to Deadline, the film will tell the life story of the late Joe Rantz, a professional rower who won Olympic gold in the men's eight at the Summer Olympics in 1936. Joel Edgerton is already cast as one of the leads alongside "Cobra Kai" actress Courtney Henggeler. The rest of the cast we know for sure also includes Chris Diamantopoulos, Callum Turner, and Jack Mulhern. The adapted screenplay is penned by Jon Hartmere and Mark L. Smith (who also co-wrote "The Revenant.") "The Boys in the Boat" has no official release date yet.
Maestro — Bradley Cooper
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Bradley Cooper'sdirectorial debut, "A Star Is Born," was a huge commercial and critical success back in 2018. Naturally, it was only a matter of time before we were going to hear about the next project he'd like to take on as a director. It took some time, but as Deadline reported last year, Cooper's follow-up directorial effort will be a Netflix flick titled "Maestro," a biopic drama about the legendary conductor Leonard Bernstein and his wife, Felicia Montealegre (Carey Mulligan).
The plot spans over 30 years, focusing on Bernstein and Montealegre's marriage and their achievements through a fruitful and eventful life and career. Bernstein is viewed as one of the most influential and important conductors and composers of his time. He won seven Emmys, two Tonys, and 16 Grammys, plus a lifetime achievement award. He was also nominated for an Oscar for his score for the Elia Kazan classic "On the Waterfront." Montealegre was a successful stage and television actress. However, the screenplay (co-written by Josh Singer and Cooper himself) will primarily focus on the two's marriage, which lasted from 1951 to 1978 — when Montealegre died of lung cancer in New York. "Maestro" is expected to be released in 2023 on Netflix.