Mel Gibson

Mel Gibson

Mel Gibson returns to the big screen this week with Edge of Darkness, his first movie since 2002.

In recent years Gibson has turned his hand to filmmaking, with some major success as Passion of the Christ and Apocalypto both did well. And lets not forget he also has a Best Director Oscar for Braveheart.

And Gibson is just one of a string of actors who have moved behind the camera to take up filmmaking careers.

So to celebrate the return of Gibson we take a look at some of the actors who have also juggled acting and directing.

Clint Eastwood: The Oscar winner kicked off his career back in1954 and has enjoyed major success for over fifty years.

In that time Eastwood has portrayed some of cinema's most iconic characters including Dirty Harry and the man with no name.

While Eastwood has always been revered as one of his generation's best actor he has always had a flair for filmmaking.

It was 1971 that Eastwood made his directorial debut with Play Misty For Me in which he also starred as David Garver, a radio DJ who becomes the target of Evelyn Draper, an obsessed female fan.

Throughout the seventies he redefined himself as a director as he worked on High Plains Drifter, Breezy, The Eiger Sanction, The Outlaw Josey Wales and The Gauntlet.

However it was, perhaps, his direction of Bird, a biopic of jazz great Charlie ‘Yardbird’ Parker in 1988 that really made people sit up and take note. Forest Whitaker starred in the lead role, for which he won Best Actor at the Cannes Film Festival, and it was only the second time, after Breezy, that Eastwood had directed a movie that he had not appeared in.

But it was Western Unforgiven in 1992 that finally gave him an Oscar but in more recently he has spent more time behind the camera than in front of it.

Million Dollar Baby brought him further success as he picked up Best Director and Best Picture for the movie, as well as Hilary Swank winning Best Actress for her performance.

He followed this up with Changeling before producing the outstanding Gran Torino last year, a movie in which he also starred.

Sean Penn: is another actor who has juggled acting and directing work. He made his directorial debut back in 1991 with The Indian Runner,  based on Bruce Springsteen's song, "Highway Patrolman".

The movie starred Dennis Hopper and Viggo Mortensen and was set in the sixties where it followed Joe who returns from the Vietnam War embittered and emotionally estranged from his family.

The movie was met well by the critics upon it's release but he didn't make another movie until 1995.

The Crossing Guard was again met well on it's release but it was The Pledge that really announced him as a filmmaker.

He teamed up with The Crossing Guard leading man Jack Nicholson for the second time with Robin Wright Penn, Patricia Clarkson, Benicio Del Toro also on the cast list.

While the movie was met well by the critics it didn't really perform at the box office however the movie was nominated for the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival.

Penn's last outing as a filmmaker was back in 2007 with Into The Wild, based on the book of the same name by Jon Krakauer about the adventures of Christopher McCandless.

Into The Wild has been Penn's greatest success and the movie went on to be nominated for a string of awards including Screen Actors Guild, Broadcast Film Critics Association and Directors Guild of America Awards.

George Clooney: made his directorial debut back in 2002 with Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, an adaptation of the autobiography of TV producer Chuck Barris.

The movie may not have been a critical success but Clooney's directing was highly praised. He back this up in spectacular style in 2005 with Good Night, and Good Luck.

The movie was also written by Clooney, along with Grant Heslov, and follows the conflict between radio journalist Edward R. Murrow and U.S. Senator Joseph McCarthy.

The movie was a critical hit and went on to bag a string of OScar nominations including Best Picture, Best Director and Best original Screenplay.

Despite missing out for Good Night and Good Luck that same year Clooney picked up a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his role in Syriana.

Despite this success his next movie Leatherheads was not a big success grossing just $35.8 million at the global box office, it was made for $58 million.

The actor is looking to return to the director's chair and is currently developing Farragut North.

Ben Affleck: His career had struggled in the early part of the decade with a string of poor roles.

But it was his directorial debut Gone Baby Gone in 2007 that really put him back on the movie map.

The film followed two cops who investigate the disappearance of a young girl, the movie's release was delayed in the UK because of the similarities to the Madeline McCann case.

Despite this the movie was a huge critical success and Affleck was back. He will return to the director's chair this year with The Town which is currently being filmed.

Other actor who have turned their hand to filmmaking include Drew Barrymore with Whip It, Kevin Coster and Dances With Wolves, Denzel Washington directed The Great Debaters and Jodie Foster returns to filmmaking later this year with The Beaver.

Edge of Darkness is released 29th January

FemaleFirst Helen Earnshaw

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