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Double Threats: Directors Starring In Their Own Films

While most directors consider directing a film to be a hard enough job in isolation, others have instead challenged themselves, by choosing to work simultaneously behind and in front of the camera. While the challenge of meeting the demands of both roles at once might seem insurmountable, there are undoubtedly those who have risen to the challenge and delivered films of outstanding quality and cinematic importance.

Ralph Fiennes’ upcoming film THE WHITE CROW is the story of legendary ballet dancer Rudolph Nureyev’s rise to fame and his eventual defection to the west. Ralph Fiennes stars in the film as Nureyev’s mentor and teacher at the Leningrad Choreography School, Alexander Pushkin, as well as directing the film.

To celebrate the film’s release on March 22, we take a look at some examples of double threat directors. You do have the likes of Clint Eastwood who has directed himself many times, but he is already a legend and there are just too many of his films to choose from.

Bradley Cooper – in A Star Is Born (2018)

Bradley Cooper’s directorial debut, itself a remake of the 1937 film of the same name, follows the story of seasoned musician Jackson Maine, played by Bradley Cooper himself, as he falls in love with a struggling artist, Ally (Lady Gaga) and soon enough helps to propel her to stardom, only for his own career to fall apart as he battles his inner demons. Both Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga performed every song in the film live, and often to large audiences at real music festivals. The film is the third A Star Is Born remake to be produced, and the only one where the couple are not called Norman and Esther.

Ben Affleck – Argo (2012)

Set in 1979 during the Iran hostage crisis and based on real events, Argo follows a dangerous and almost unbelievable rescue operation launched to save six American hostages held in Tehran. Ben Affleck also plays the lead role, Tony Mendez, the man behind the mission who is acting under the guise of a Hollywood producer scouting locations. In trying to recreate the 70s setting of the film, it was shot on regular film which was blown up in size in order to increase the graininess of the image. The film won Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Film Editing.

Barbra Streisand – Yentl (1983)

Set in 1904, Streisand’s film follows a young Jewish woman, Yentl, played by Streisand, who is hungry to learn about and study the Talmud – a right reserved exclusively for Jewish men. After her father, who secretly taught Yentl, passes away, she poses as a man in order to gain entry to a Jewish school. Even though Yentl was meant to be only 17 years old, Streisand was actually 40 when she played the role. Barbra Streisand was also involved in writing the screenplay for the film and, at the release of the film, she made history by becoming the first woman to win the Golden Globe for Best Director.

George Clooney – Good Night, and Good Luck (2005)

Clooney’s historical drama, set in early days of television journalism, follows CBS reporter Edward R. Murrow (David Strathairn) and his news team including producer Fred Friendly (George Clooney) as they try to expose and condemn the fear mongering of Senator Joseph McCarthy. The film was shot in colour on a greyscale set, and was only desaturated during post production to become black and white. In order to keep the budget low, George Clooney accepted only one dollar each for his role as writer, actor and director. The film was nominated for six Academy Awards.

Ralph Fiennes – The White Crow (2019)

Ralph Fiennes’ upcoming film tells the true story of the world-renowned ballet dancer Rudolf Nureyev (Oleg Ivenko), from his difficult childhood in the Soviet Union, to his education as a dancer in Leningrad, and his eventual arrival in Paris with the Kirov Ballet Company in 1961. When Nureyev’s rebellious character raises concerns with the ballet company and the KGB, he is forced to make a difficult decision in order to be free to pursue his burgeoning career. Ralph Fiennes stars as Nureyev’s mentor at the Leningrad Choreography School, Alexander Pushkin. It is a project he has been interested in since he first read Julie Kavanagh’s Nureyev biography over 20 years ago.


Preview screenings plus a live satellite Q&A with Ralph Fiennes and very special guests will be broadcast nationwide on March 12th. Book tickets at

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