Lights, camera, action! From Denzel Washington to Ben Affleck, many actors seamlessly made the switch from being in front of the camera to behind it — but it wasn’t always as easy as it looked.
While making her 2019 directorial debut, Booksmart, Olivia Wilde remembered getting really “terrible advice” from a fellow actor turned director that she will never forget “because I just knew I had to do the opposite,” she told Variety in February 2021.
The O.C. alum said the Hollywood star, who she chose not to name, offered a suggestion that was so bad, she almost couldn’t believe they were serious.
“[They] said, ‘Listen, the way to get respect on a set, you have to have three arguments a day. Three big arguments that reinstate your power, remind everyone who’s in charge, be the predator,’” Wilde recalled. “That is the opposite of my process. And I want none of that.”
While Bradley Cooper quickly established himself as a big Hollywood star in films such as The Hangover, he told NPR in 2018 that he had wanted to be a director ever since he could remember.
“My curiosity [in directing] seems to be a bit different than many other actors,” the Wedding Crashers actor said at the time. “I would always spend all my time, as much as I could, in editing rooms and shadowing directors and asking crew members questions and learning about lenses and so on.
All that time studying helped him when making his first film, 2018’s A Star is Born, which earned rave reviews — but he told Time that it took a lot of courage for him to get behind the camera.
“I’ve always known I wanted to direct,” he told the magazine in 2018. “Always. So it was about facing the fear of doing it. I said by 40 if I haven’t taken a shot, shame on me.”
Cooper was 42 when his first film was released, but there is no right age to make a career change in Hollywood. Just ask Ron Howard.
The Andy Griffith Show alum got his start acting at the ripe old age of 5, but told CBS News in 2013 that it just wasn’t for him. “I didn’t feel I was quite a strong enough actor,” he said at the time. “I felt in a lot of ways [directing] was a more complete reflection of who I am, what I like to do.”
After getting a chance to direct the low-budget film Grand Theft Auto in 1977 at the age of 23, Howard realized that he liked being the person in charge.
“When you’re an actor, you often feel victimized — you see the end result, ‘Oh, they didn’t use this take, they didn’t use that take, how come?’ There’s no ‘how come?’ with the director,” he said. “There’s only one person to look at. Walk over to the mirror if you want to know why. But I prefer that.”
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