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One-Man Shows: Multi-talented Masters of Cinema in Acting, Writing, Producing, Directing

By Edited Nov 15, 2013 1 4

If you excel in one position in Hollywood, you'll capture film-critics attention and create an incredible future for your career. For some, though, that doesn't cut it. These cinema superstars have taken excellence to the next level by wearing multiple hats, and many have done so while working on the same movie (control freaks). Though not all have served in all four of these roles, here are the best of our combo cream-of-the-crop actors, writers, producers and directors, in no particular order. The lists of movies is not exhaustive, just spotlights.


Tom Hanks (Actor/Writer/Producer/Director)

Tom Hanks

Everybody knows Hanks as one of the biggest actors Hollywood has seen, especially when it comes to the drama genre. He's acted in a wide variety of mega hits, ranging from the battlegrounds of Germany to the moon. Watching his films take you completely inside his character, but his talents range beyond just acting[1].


  • Forrest Gump (1994)
  • Apollo 13 (1995)
  • Saving Private Ryan (1998) 


  • That Thing you Do! (1996)
  • Larry Crowne (2011)


  • Cast Away (2000)
  • Band of Brothers (2001)
  • My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2011)


M. Night Shyamalan (Actor/Writer/Producer/Director)

Many critics would say he's on the decline in the movie business, but back in the day, M. Night Shyamalan captured audiences with his shocking surprise ending of The Sixth Sense. His real talent lies in the his writing, though he acts, produces and directs most of his movies as well. Suspense and drama are his Shyamalan's genres of choice[2].


  • The Sixth Sense (1999)
  • Signs (2002)
  • The Village (2004)


Kathryn Bigelow (Producer/Director)

Once married to director James Cameron, Bigelow makes the emotion and grittiness of war come alive onscreen. She won two Oscars for her efforts, and she continues to thrill audiences by capturing the action and human element of every movie she makes. Few women make it as either directors or producers in Hollywood, and Bigelow has done both. Her best days are no doubt ahead of her[3].


  • Zero Dark Thirty (2012)
  • The Hurt Locker (2008)


Ridley Scott (Producer/Director)

Ridley Scott

First Sigourney Weaver in Alien, then Harrison Ford in Blade Runner. You might think British director and producer Ridley Scott is limited to science fiction productions, but his portfolio is much wider than that. Scott originally worked in advertising before turning to movies. Recently, he's returned to his roots with the movie Prometheus, establishing some of the Alien backstory[4].


  • The Grey (2011)


  • Alien (1979)


  • Blade Runner (1982)
  • Black Hawk Down (2001)
  • Hannibal (2001)


Peter Jackson (Writer/Producer/Director)

Before The Lord of the Rings, Peter Jackson's top hit was Heavely Creatures. His incredible work on J.R.R. Tolkien's trilogy established him, his cast and crew among Hollywood's most talented individuals. Even with the only moderate success movies outside of LOTR, Jackson's academy awards and reputation still make waves among movie lovers.[5]


  • The Lord of the Rings series (2001-2003)
  • King Kong 
  • The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012)


Steven Spielberg (Writer/Producer/Director)

Spielberg has revolutionized the movie industry since the onscreen creation of his famous antagonist: a great white shark in Jaws. Since then, he has risen to every occasion, rarely producing flops and becoming one of the biggest, wealthiest directors in the movie business. His Jewish ancestry focused much of his efforts on showing the world what the Jews went through before and after WWII[6].


  • The Goonies (1985)


  • Indiana Jones trilogy (1981-1989)
  • Jaws (1975)


  • Saving Private Ryan (1998)
  • Schindler's List (1993)
  • Jurassic Park (1993)


Mel Gibson (Actor/Writer/Producer/Director)

Mel Gibson

He's played it all, from the smart-aleck, vengeful loner with a cigarette and gun, to the leader of thousands with a tender heart for his family. After massive success in his acting career, Gibson turned to the producing and directing in the historical genre. His critically-acclaimed movie Braveheart brought the admiration of his newest love, allowing him to expand his stories and budget[7].


  • The Patriot (2000)
  • Lethal Weapon series (1987-1998)


  • Braveheart (1995)


  • Apocalypto (2006)
  • The Passion of the Christ (2004)


Ron Howard (Actor/Writer/Producer/Director)

Childhood stars don't always grow into their fame in a pretty way. Ron Howard is the exception to this rule, continuing career in Hollywood long after playing the beloved Opie Taylor on The Andy Griffith Show. His movies oftentimes have a character put in a complicated situation completely out of their control, which may reflect Howard's past. In any case, he has succeeded as an actor, producer and director.


  • The Andy Griffith Show (1960-1968)
  • Happy Days (1974-1984)


  • A Beautiful Mind (2001)


  • Apollo 13 (1995)


Ben Affleck (Actor/Writer/Producer/Director)

We all screamed in terror when Affleck donned his red spandex in Daredevil, but our fears have been put to rest with his recent success in directing (that suits you better, Affleck). As one of the youngest masters of cinema in our times, we'll be looking with fascination at this gifted actor, storyteller and leader[8].


  • Pearl Harbor (2001)


  • Good Will Hunting (1997)


  • The Town (2010)


  • Argo (2012)


Spike Lee (Writer/Producer/Director)

Lee has challenged the racial and social "norms" of our society since the beginning of his film-making days. His hit comedy, She's Gotta Have it got more than just laughs - people started to look at the deeper meaning behind these stories. And it certainly helps when you make friends in high places; Oscar winner Denzel Washington works with Lee on many of his films[9].


  • Malcom X (1992)
  • Do the Right Thing (1989)
  • She's Gotta Have it (1986)


  • Inside Man (2006)


Francis Ford Coppola (Writer/Producer/Director)

Francis Ford Coppola

This guy's whole family bleeds talent in the movie business. After Coppola's enormous success with The Godfather series (both commercially and otherwise), he went on to produce and direct many other films. Nicolas Cage (Coppola's nephew) and Francis Ford Coppola (his daughter) have directly benefited from Francis' success, though they've made their own way in Hollywood[10].


  • The Godfather series (1972-1990)
  • Apocalypse Now (1979)


  • Lost in Translation (2003)
  • American Graffiti (1973)


Who's your favorite multi-talented master in cinema? Comment below!



Oct 9, 2013 5:54pm
Throw in Carl Reiner (the old 'Dick Van Dyke Show', christ knows how many Steve Martin movies, among Allah only knows how many other acting, producing, directing, writing roles) and you got yerself an article!
Sep 15, 2014 10:29pm
Indeed! These are great choices as well, Vic :). So many to choose from!
Sep 15, 2014 6:24pm
You picked all my favorites. Great article!
Sep 15, 2014 10:29pm
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  1. "Tom Hanks." IMDB. 25/09/2013 <Web >
  2. "M. Night Shyamalan." IMDB. 25/09/2013 <Web >
  3. "Kathryn Bigelow." IMDB. 25/09/2013 <Web >
  4. "Ridley Scott." IMDB. 25/09/2013 <Web >
  5. "Peter Jackson." IMDB. 25/09/2013 <Web >
  6. "Steven Spielberg." IMDB. 25/09/2013 <Web >
  7. "Mel Gibson." IMDB. 25/09/2013 <Web >
  8. "Ron Howard." IMDB. 25/09/2013 <Web >
  9. "Spike Lee." IMDB. 25/09/2013 <Web >
  10. "Francis Ford Coppola." IMDB. 25/09/2013 <Web >

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