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List: Top 3 Actor-Director Collaborations

List: Top 3 Actor-Director Collaborations

This week on Episode 311 of the InSession Film Podcast, inspired by Dan Gilroy’s Velvet Buzzsaw which re-teamed Gilroy with this Nighcrawler stars in Jake Gyllenhaal and Rene Russo, we decided to talk about the best actor-director collaborations in film. As with any business, a strong partnership can go a long way in making a robust and sought-after product. The same is very much true for film as we’ve seen many actor-director duos over the years, some offering up the best films of all-time. So, it made this excersice slightly cumbersome, but with that much rich material to sift through it also made it quite enjoyable to talk about. That said, here are our lists:

(Note: Please keep in mind that we each had different criteria for our selections)


1) Akira Kurosawa / Toshiro Mifune
2) Jeff Nichols / Michael Shannon
3) Martin Scorsese / Robert De Niro


1) Akira Kurosawa / ‎Takashi Shimura‎
2) Guillermo del Toro / Doug Jones
3) Richard Linklater / Ethan Hawke


1) Martin Scorsese / Robert De Niro
2) George Roy Hill / Paul Newman
3) James Cameron / Arnold Schwarzenegger

Honorable Mentions (Combined)

Paul Thomas Anderson / Daniel Day-Lewis / Joaquin Phoenix / Philip Seymour Hoffman
Wes Anderson / Bill Murray / Jason Schwartzman
Ryan Coogler / Michael B. Jordan
Coen Bothers / Frances McDormand / John Goodman
Sofia Coppola / Kirsten Dunst
Kelly Reichardt / Michelle Williams
Steve McQueen / Michael Fassbender
Spike Lee / Denzel Washington
Quentin Tarantino / Samuel L. Jackson
Steven Spielberg / Tom Hanks
Edgar Wright / Simon Pegg / Nick Frost
Noah Baumbach / Greta Gerwig / Ben Stiller
Damien Chazelle / Ryan Gosling
Pedro Almodovar / Penelope Cruz
Sam Raimi / Bruce Campbell
Adam McKay / Will Ferrell
Martin Scorsese / Leonard DiCaprio
Alfred Hitchcock / James Stewart
Satyajit Ray / Madhabi Mukherjee / Soumitra Chatterjee
Frances Ford Coppola / Marlon Brando
Howard Hawks / Cary Grant
John Huston / Humphrey Bogart
John Carpenter / Kurt Russell
Mel Brooks / Gene Wilder
John Cassavetes / Gena Rowlands
Woody Allen / Diane Keaton

Hopefully you guys enjoyed our lists and if you agree or disagree with us, let us know in the comment section below. As mentioned above, this category is rich in material to sift through and we barely scratched the surface of all that is available. So, there is a chance we are missing some directors and actors that would be on your list. That being said, what would be your Top 3? Leave a comment in the comment section or email us at [email protected].

For the entire podcast, click here or listen below.

For more lists done by the InSession Film crew and other guests, be sure see our Top 3 Movie Lists page.

InSession Film founder and owner. I love film. Love art. Love how it intersects with our real lives. My favorite movies include Citizen Kane, The 400 Blows, Modern Times, The Godfather and The Tree of Life. Follow me on Twitter @RealJDDuran. Follow us @InSessionFilm.

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