The Affleck Affect: Actors Who are Better at Directing

Sure, Ben Affleck starred in a couple of disposable films. I still like the guy.

Maybe if I’d had to suffer through Gigli, I’d feel differently. But I loved his turn in Good Will Hunting, thought he did his best as Jack Ryan, and I even enjoyed him in the not-so-memorable films Bounce and Jersey Girl. I just think he needs the right roles, the right scripts.

But what’s far more interesting to me is the revelation of Ben Affleck the Director.

Gone Baby Gone was a stunner of a debut. So impressive, in fact, that I cynically wondered just how much help he’d been given by powerful Hollywood friends.

But this? Wow. This trailer for The Town played before Inception, and while everybody else left the theater talking about Inception, I left thinking about how much I want to see this.

You? Does this trailer get your attention?

I can’t wait to see it. And it makes me even more interested in seeing what Affleck does next.

Can you think of another actor who, when he started directing, turned out to be a better director than an actor?

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  • Dan

    I loved Gone Baby Gone. This looks like the normal Hollywood crap though. I don’t see much that in the trailer to indicate that it is a thoughtful or nuanced film at all. After watching the trailer, I feel like I’ve seen half the film already. And I live near and go to Boston all the time. It’s not nearly the violent rough-and-tumble place people like Affleck or Matt Damon make it out to be.

  • Sofia Coppola

  • Looks interesting. Of course being from Massachusetts I’m a sucker for Boston movies. Hopefully “The Town” can carry on the tradition of “Good Will Hunting”, “Gone Baby Gone”, “Mystic River” and “The Departed”.

    Even though I enjoy Eastwood’s acting, I would say that his directorial talents in many ways outweigh his acting talents.

  • And Sophia Copolla.

  • Rick Ro.

    Here are a few others who struck me as “better” directors than actors:

    -Penny Marshall (Big, A League of Their Own)
    -Rob Reiner (Spinal Tap, A Few Good Men, The Sure Thing, Stand By Me, When Harry Met Sally)
    -Sydney Pollack (Tootsie, Absence of Malice, The Firm, Jeremiah Johnson)

  • I was going to say ‘Clint Eastwood’ as well. Not to put down his work as an actor, just to say that his work as a Director has been that impressive.

  • Clint Eastwood seems like the obvious name to drop here. He’s a decent enough actor, but an impressively nuanced director.

    I was excited about the “The Town” trailer as well (though I’m not impressed by the title so far), both on the strength of the cast as well as the plot premise. Would be nice to see this as a breakout film for Rebecca Hall.

  • Brad N

    For me, Ron Howard’s artistic pinnacle might be as the narrator and executive producer of “Arrested Development”.

  • I like many of Clint Eastwoods directorial movies and not many of his movies with him as an actor.

  • I’m working on my Inception review. It should be up at the Image blog next week.

  • dgerm

    wow, so inception didn’t leave much of an impression? when do we get to hear your take on that? didn’t live up to the hype (or to memento) for me, but i thought it was visually stunning and a lot of fun.

    as excited as i was by the affleck trailer (my wife and i always look at each other after trailers to gauge if the other is interested and to convey our own interest- she vehemently shook her head as i eagerly nodded mine following this one), it committed the unpardonable sin that has become almost expected in trailers (christopher nolan seems to somehow assert enough control to never have his movies subjected to this): way too much of the story was given away. anyone who would be excited by the trailer was plenty excited BEFORE the reveal at about the 1:40 mark. just end it there!

    so, all that to say- yes, i will see this movie and was very excited throughout most of the trailer, but ended up feeling more frustrated and annoyed.

  • Bob D

    Wait. Kevin just reminded me. There’s James Cameron. HE’S at the top of that dung pile.

  • Bob D

    Spielberg currently has the top spot on my Overrated Directors list. Howard comes off like a Poor Man’s Spielberg.

  • Hate to say it, Jeffrey, but the trailer for THE TOWN bores me senseless.

    If there was any trailer before INCEPTION that caught my attention, it was THE SOCIAL NETWORK.

  • Don’t forget Changing Lanes…I personally think that’s the best thing he’s ever been in…

  • Bob, as Howard is near the top of my list of Directors Who Annoy Me Most, and probably #1 on my list of Overrated Directors, I’m afraid I have to agree with you.

  • Bob D

    Not to answer your question, but could that music possibly be any more epic? And to say that Ron Howard was a better director than actor is certainly a case of damning with faint praise. Come to think of it, his job as Opie is considerably better than any of his directed movies that I can think of.

  • Agree with Nick about Ron Howard

    I’d also add–even though it seems verbotten to talk about him now–Mel Gibson. He’s a solid actor, but has grown fairly one-note. But as he’s devolved as an actor, he’s grown into a director with a stunning visual eye.

    I’d hesitantly add Bill Paxton. I don’t think he’s a bad actor…he’s fine. But watch his directorial debut, “Frailty,” which has such a command of tone and suspense.

    I used to joke when he cameo’d in each of his films that M. Night Shyamalan was a better director than actor…now, it’s appearing he’s just not good at either.

  • Richard Attenborough
    Ron Howard
    Charles Laughton