CLOSE
AustinFilm.org
AustinFilm.org

13 Directors Who Work With the Same Stars Again and Again

AustinFilm.org
AustinFilm.org

Maybe it’s a good working relationship that keeps these directors and actors coming back for more. Maybe it’s romance. Or perhaps it’s because when the two collaborate, the box office explodes. The list of frequent collaborators is a long one; here are just a few.

1. Woody Allen

Getty Images

When Woody Allen and Mia Farrow met in 1979, Allen was a commercial success: He had just received Oscar nominations for best director, best actor, and best original screenplay for Annie Hall—the first person to accomplish that feat since Orson Welles in 1941 for Citizen Kane.

Farrow was working on Broadway when she agreed to attend a dinner with actor Michael Caine. Allen was there, and 12 years later, they had collaborated on 13 films.

Of course, they don’t make movies together anymore—or even talk to each other—after Allen married Farrow’s adopted daughter in 1997.

Farrow wasn't the only woman Allen frequently worked with: The director and Diane Keaton, who also had a romantic relationship with each other throughout the ‘70s, made seven films together during that decade. After Manhattan in ’79, they didn’t collaborate again until 1987’s Radio Days. To date, Keaton has appeared in nine Woody Allen pictures.

2. Joel and Ethan Coen

Getty Images

The Coen Brothers have a lengthy list of actors and actresses they frequently work with: George Clooney, Steve Buscemi, John Goodman, John Turturro, Jon Polito, and Frances McDormand, who has made six films with the directing duo (not including uncredited voice work on Barton Fink).

McDormand—who is married to Joel Coen—met the brothers through actress Holly Hunter. She and Hunter had lived together in the dorms at Yale and shared an apartment in New York after graduating. After McDormand met the brothers, they cast her in their debut, low-budget thriller, Blood Simple.

3. Quentin Tarantino

Getty Images

Tarantino’s working relationship with Samuel L. Jackson spans 20 years and five films, including the recently released Django Unchained. But if first impressions meant anything in Hollywood, the two would have never worked together.

Jackson met Tarantino when he auditioned for the director’s first major film, Reservoir Dogs—but Jackson didn’t get the part. After the film premiered at Sundance, Jackson told Tarantino how much he enjoyed it. Tarantino responded with, “Don’t worry, I’m writing something for you.” That something turned out to be Pulp Fiction, the movie for which Jackson is perhaps best known.

4. Tim Burton

AceShowBiz.com

Burton and his most prolific collaborator, Johnny Depp, have made eight quirky and dark films together. Though their work has often been box-office gold, apparently the duo receives plenty of flack for constantly relying on each other. “With Johnny, people complain if I work with him, people complain if I don’t work with him,” Burton told the Huffington Post.

Long-time collaborator and producer Scott Rudin has a theory that in all of Burton’s films, Depp is playing the character of Tim Burton. Burton doesn’t agree, but Depp does. Edward Scissorhands was about Burton’s inability to communicate as a teenager, Depp has said.

Their working-in-tandem relationship sparked from their first meeting in a coffee shop in 1989. “There was a connection … of having felt outside growing up, and freakish, and a little bit weird,” Depp says.

Helena Bonham-Carter, Burton’s longtime partner, is another frequent collaborator; the couple has made seven films together.

5. Alfred Hitchcock

A Certain Cinema

Hitchcock is known to have had many turbulent relationships with actresses, but when it came to actors, he had two favorites: James Stewart and Cary Grant, who each starred in four of his films.

Stewart, who Hitchcock worked with on Rope, Rear Window, The Man Who Knew Too Much, and Vertigo, was said to be the actor Hitchcock could most identify with.

Hitchcock, however, called Grant “the only actor I ever loved in my whole life.”

Regardless of his two leading favorites, the man to appear in the most Hitchcock films (six) was Leo G. Carroll, who never got a starring role.

6. James Cameron

Getty Images

After completing Titanic, Kate Winslet said she’d need to be paid “a lot of money” to work with Cameron again. Even though she and co-star Leonard DiCaprio haven’t been part of a Cameron project since, the director must be doing something right (aside from having an estimated $700 million net worth)—after all, there is one actor who keeps coming back.

Cameron and Bill Paxton's working relationship spans almost 20 years. The actor has appeared in five Cameron films, including The Terminator (1984), Titanic (1997) and, most recently, Ghosts of the Abyss (2003).

Paxton's not the only actor Cameron has used more than once: Michael Biehn starred in both The Abyss and The Terminator, and replaced James Remar in Aliens (1986) when Cameron and Remar couldn't see eye to eye.

Cameron has also worked with Arnold Schwarzenegger on four films, including True Lies and two movies in the Terminator franchise. Schwarzenegger and Cameron cemented their long-lasting friendship over lunch when it was decided that Schwarzenegger would play the cyborg villain instead of a human hero.

7. Joss Whedon

Getty Images

Whedon is a big fan of Nathan Fillion, a man who has appeared in four of Whedon’s projects, with a fifth (Much Ado About Nothing) on the way. The writer/director has called Fillion this generation’s equivalent to Harrison Ford because of his ability to do comedy, action, drama, and romance. With last year’s Comic-Con Firefly reunion and the new film out in June, there may still be hope for a Dr. Horrible 2.

Amy Acker is also a long-time Whedon cohort; she appeared in Angel, Dollhouse, and The Cabin in the Woods, and stars alongside Fillion in Much Ado. Acker says she’s trying to bribe her old friend into letting her be on his new Marvel pilot for ABC, S.H.I.E.L.D.

8. Christopher Guest

IMDb

Actor/director Christopher Guest has an expansive ensemble cast he often uses in his “mockumentary” films, including Michael McKean, Harry Shearer, Fred Willard, Parker Posey, Jane Lynch, Catherine O'Hara, Eugene Levy and John Michael Higgins. And it's not just because he likes working with them; it has a lot to do with the fact that the films Guest stars in and directs—which include Waiting for Guffman, Best in Show, and A Mighty Windrely more on improvision than dialogue from a script. "You’re not in the same position as people who are doing a conventional movie, because with that situation there are many, many actors that could play those parts," Guest told the AV Club. "In the kind of films that I do, there is an extremely limited number of people that can improvise. The reason the ensemble continues in the movies is because those are the people that can do that kind of work."

9. Ron Howard

Getty Images

Ron Howard and Tom Hanks first met when Hanks played a doctor on Howard's television show, Happy Days. Howard told Hanks that he was planning to launch a career as a director and asked him to audition for a minor role in Splash; the actor has since appeared in three of the director's other films, including the adaptations of Dan Brown’s conspiracy theory novels, The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons, brought to the big screen in ’06 and ’09.

Howard has another frequent collaborator he's known for much longer: his younger brother, Clint. Clint has appeared in 17 of Ron's projects, beginning with Old Paint when Clint was just 10 years old. Through almost five decades of working together, the brothers have had at least one disagreement: During the 2008 election, Ron supported Obama, but Clint didn't.

10. Martin Scorsese

Getty Images

Director Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro have made eight films together since being introduced by writer/director Brian De Palma in the '70s. During their three collaborations in that decade, the duo was interested in experimenting with improvisation and delving into the dark side of the male psyche. It’s been said that those characteristics fueled their passion for the craft and kept them together. They’re expected to reunite for The Irishman and a sequel to Taxi Driver.

Scorsese has been building a similar working relationship with Leonardo DiCaprio; De Niro was the one who introduced the two. “You should work with him some day,” De Niro told Scorsese. And they did. Beginning with Gangs of New York in ’02, the new pairing has worked on five films, including this year’s The Wolf of Wall Street.

“We’re a different generation, but he goes in the same places that I want to go,” Scorsese said of DiCaprio. “He’s not afraid to go there.”

11. Edgar Wright

Getty Images

Director Edgar Wright has worked with Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, and Martin Freeman on what the group calls the Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy. The name refers to the real-life Cornetto ice cream brand that is also featured in the films. Each movie has a scene where one of the main characters purchases a flavor that is indicative of the movie: Shaun of the Dead uses strawberry to represent blood and gore, while characters in Hot Fuzz eat the original blue flavor as an homage to the popular police uniform color. The last film in the trilogy—The World's End, which will be released October 25, 2013—will use mint chocolate chip. Maybe the reason this foursome keeps coming back for more is because of the ice cream?

12. Wes Anderson

Getty Images

So far in his career, Wes Anderson has directed nine films—and Owen Wilson and Bill Murray have appeared in six of them. Both will appear in Anderson’s 2014 release, The Grand Budapest Hotel, and have starred in five of Anderson's films together (Wilson appeared in and co-wrote Bottle Rocket, but didn’t appear with Murray in Moonrise Kingdom.)

Anderson and Wilson met as students at the University of Texas in Austin. They took a playwriting class together, but sat in opposite corners of the room and never spoke, Anderson told AMC in 1996. It was later, when they bumped into each other in a hallway, that they struck up a friendship.

During press for Fantastic Mr. Fox, Murray described what it’s like working with Anderson: “It's an adventure. I like the way the showman has rounded out. I knew him when he was just nobody practically, just a child out of Texas. Just a kid with a saddle and a set of spurs. And now he's just rolling …”

13. Akira Kurosawa

Getty Images

In a career that spanned 57 years, the Japanese filmmaker directed 30 films and, in 1990, accepted an Academy Award for Lifetime Achievement. No one utilized actors quite the way Kurosawa did; the director spent large amounts of time in elaborate rehearsal to get them in the correct frame of mind for their scenes.

Kurosawa met actor Toshiro Mifune when the largest film production company in Japan launched a massive talent search. The director walked in to see Mifune performing a piece in a violent frenzy. He lost the competition, but became Kurosawa’s muse. The very detailed director worked with Mifune on 16 of his films, until a fight between the two on the set of 1965’s Red Beard split the pair up; Mifune never appeared in a Kurosawa film again.

nextArticle.image_alt|e
Vivien Killilea/Getty Images for Caruso Affiliated
arrow
History
A Founder of Earth Day Looks Back on How It Began
Vivien Killilea/Getty Images for Caruso Affiliated
Vivien Killilea/Getty Images for Caruso Affiliated

On the very first Earth Day in 1970, Denis Hayes stood on a stage in Central Park, stunned by the number of people who'd come to honor the planet. Now in his 70s, Hayes remembers it was like looking at the ocean—“you couldn’t see where the sea of people ended.” Crowd estimates reached more than a million people.

For Hayes, who is now board chair of the international Earth Day Network, it was the culmination of a year’s worth of work. As an urban ecology graduate student at Harvard University, he’d volunteered to help organize a small initiative by Wisconsin senator Gaylord Nelson. Nelson was horrified by the 1969 oil spill in Santa Barbara, California, and wanted to raise awareness about environmental issues by holding teaching events similar to those being held by civil rights and anti-war activists.

Senator Nelson saw a growing disconnect between the concept of progress and the idea of American well-being, Hayes tells Mental Floss. “There was a sense that America was prosperous and getting better, but at the same time, the air in the country was similar to the air today in China, Mexico City, or New Delhi," Hayes says. "Rivers were catching on fire. Lakes were unswimmable.”

Nelson's plan for these environmental teach-ins was for speakers to educate college students about environmental issues. But he had no one to organize them. So Hayes, Nelson’s sole volunteer, took control on a national level, organizing teach-ins at Harvard first and then across the U.S. Initially, the response was tepid at best. “Rather rapidly it became clear that this wasn’t a hot issue at colleges and universities in 1969,” Hayes says. “We had a war raging, and civil rights were getting very emotional after the Nixon election.”

Still, both Hayes and Nelson noticed an influx of mail to the senator's office from women with young families worried about the environment. So instead of focusing on colleges, the two decided to take a different tactic, creating events with community-based organizations across the country, Hayes says. They also decided that rather than a series of teach-ins, they'd hold a single, nationwide teach-in on the same day. They called it Earth Day, and set a date: April 22.

Hayes now had a team of young adults working for the cause, and he himself had dropped out of school to tackle it full time. Long before social media, the project began to spread virally. “It just resonated,” he says. Women and smaller environmental-advocacy groups really hooked onto the idea, and word spread by mouth and by information passing between members of the groups.

Courtesy of Denis Hayes

With the cooperation and participation of grassroots groups and volunteers across the country, and a few lawmakers who supported the initiative, Hayes’ efforts culminated in the event on April 22, 1970.

Hayes started the day in Washington, D.C., where he and the staff were based. There was a rally and protest on the National Mall, though by that point Hayes had flown to New York, where Mayor John Lindsay provided a stage in Central Park. Parts of Fifth Avenue were shut down for the events, which included Earth-oriented celebrations, protests, and speeches by celebrities. Some of those attending the event even attacked nearby cars for causing pollution. After the rally, Hayes flew to Chicago for a smaller event.

“We had a sense that it was going to be big, but when the day actually dawned, the crowds were so much bigger than anyone had experienced before,” Hayes said. The event drew grassroots activists working on a variety of issues—Agent Orange, lead paint in poor urban neighborhoods, saving the whales—and fostered a sense of unity among them.

“There were people worrying about these [environmental] issues before Earth Day, but they didn’t think they had anything in common with one another," Hayes says. "We took all those individual strands and wove them together into the fabric of modern environmentalism.”

Hayes and his team spent the summer getting tear-gassed at protests against the American invasion of Cambodia, which President Nixon authorized just six days after Earth Day. But by fall, the team refocused on environmental issues—and elections. They targeted a “dirty dozen” members of Congress up for re-election who had terrible environmental records, and campaigned for candidates who championed environmental causes to run against them. They defeated seven out of 12.

“It was a very poorly funded but high-energy campaign,” Hayes says. “That sent the message to Congress that it wasn’t just a bunch of people out frolicking in the sunshine planting daisies and picking up litter. This actually had political chops.”

The early '70s became a golden age for environmental issues; momentum from the Earth Day movement spawned the creation of the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act, the Endangered Species Act, the Marine Mammal Protection Act, the Environmental Education Act (which was initially passed in 1970 and revived in 1990), and the Environmental Protection Agency.

“We completely changed the framework within which America does business, more than any other period in history with the possible exception of the New Deal,” Hayes says. “But our little revolution was brought entirely from the grassroots up.”

In 1990, Hayes was at it again. He organized the first international Earth Day, with about 200 million participants across more than 140 countries. Since then it’s become a global phenomenon.

Despite its popularity, though, we still have a long way to go, even if the improvements Hayes fought for have made these issues feel more remote. Hayes noted that everything they were fighting in the '70s was something tangible—something you could see, taste, smell, or touch. Climate change can seem much less real—and harder to combat—to the average person who isn’t yet faced with its effects.

Hayes also notes that people have become more skeptical of science. “Historically, that has not been a problem in the United States. But today science is under attack.”

He warns, “This [anti-science sentiment] is something that could impoverish the next 50 generations and create really long-term devastation—that harms not only American health, but also American business, American labor, and American prospects.”

nextArticle.image_alt|e
Kevin Winter/Getty Images for AFI
arrow
entertainment
13 Great Jack Nicholson Quotes
Kevin Winter/Getty Images for AFI
Kevin Winter/Getty Images for AFI

Jack Nicholson turns 81 today. Let's celebrate with some of the actor's wit and wisdom.

1. ON ADVICE

"I hate advice unless I'm giving it. I hate giving advice, because people won't take it."

From Esquire's "What I Learned"

2. ON REGRETS

"Not that I can think of. I’m sure there are some, but my mind doesn’t go there. When you look at life retrospectively you rarely regret anything that you did, but you might regret things that you didn’t do."

From an interview with The Talks

3. ON DEATH

"I'm Irish. I think about death all the time. Back in the days when I thought of myself as a serious academic writer, I used to think that the only real theme was a fear of death, and that all the other themes were just that same fear, translated into fear of closeness, fear of loneliness, fear of dissolving values. Then I heard old John Huston talking about death. Somebody was quizzing him about the subject, you know, and here he is with the open-heart surgery a few years ago, and the emphysema, but he's bounced back fit as a fiddle, and he's talking about theories of death, and the other fella says, 'Well, great, John, that's great ... but how am I supposed to feel about it when you pass on?' And John says, 'Just treat it as your own.' As for me, I like that line I wrote that, we used in The Border, where I said, 'I just want to do something good before I die.' Isn't that what we all want?"

From an interview with Roger Ebert

4. ON NERVES

''There's a period of time just before you start a movie when you start thinking, I don't know what in the world I'm going to do. It's free-floating anxiety. In my case, though, this is over by lunch the first day of shooting.''

From an interview with The New York Times

5. ON ACTING

"Almost anyone can give a good representative performance when you're unknown. It's just easier. The real pro game of acting is after you're known—to 'un-Jack' that character, in my case, and get the audience to reinvest in a new and specific, fictional person."

From an interview with The Age

6. ON MARRIAGE

"I never had a policy about marriage. I got married very young in life and I always think in all relationships, I've always thought that it's counterproductive to have a theory on that. It's hard enough to get to know yourself and as most of you have probably found, once you get to know two people in tandem it's even more difficult. If it's going to be successful, it's going to have to be very specific and real and immediate so the more ideas you have about it before you start, it seems to me the less likely you are to be successful."

From an interview with About.com

7. ON LYING

“You only lie to two people in your life: your girlfriend and the police. Everybody else you tell the truth to.”

From a 1994 interview with Vanity Fair

8. ON HIS SUNGLASSES

"They're prescription. That's why I wear them. A long time ago, the Middle American in me may have thought it was a bit affected maybe. But the light is very strong in southern California. And once you've experienced negative territory in public life, you begin to accept the notion of shields. I am a person who is trained to look other people in the eye. But I can't look into the eyes of everyone who wants to look into mine; I can't emotionally cope with that kind of volume. Sunglasses are part of my armor."

From Esquire's "What I Learned"

9. ON MISCONCEPTIONS

"I think people think I'm more physical than I am, I suppose. I'm not really confrontational. Of course, I have a temper, but that's sort of blown out of proportion."

From an interview with ESPN

10. ON DIRECTING

"I'm a different person when suddenly it's my responsibility. I'm not very inhibited in that way. I would show up [on the set of The Two Jakes] one day, and we'd scouted an orange grove and it had been cut down. You're out in the middle of nowhere and they forget to cast an actor. These are the sort of things I kind of like about directing. Of course, at the time you blow your stack a little bit. ... I'm a Roger Corman baby. Just keep rolling, baby. You've got to get something on there. Maybe it's right. Maybe it's wrong. Maybe you can fix it later. Maybe you can't. You can't imagine the things that come up when you're making a movie where you've got to adjust on the spot."

From an interview with MTV

11. ON ROGER CORMAN

"There's nobody in there, that he didn't, in the most important way support. He was my life blood to whatever I thought I was going to be as a person. And I hope he knows that this is not all hot air. I'm going to cry now."

From the documentary Corman's World

12. ON PLAYING THE JOKER

"This would be the character, whose core—while totally determinate of the part—was the least limiting of any I would ever encounter. This is a more literary way of approaching than I might have had as a kid reading the comics, but you have to get specific. ... He's not wired up the same way. This guy has survived nuclear waste immersion here. Even in my own life, people have said, 'There's nothing sacred to you in the area of humor, Jack. Sometimes, Jack, relax with the humor.' This does not apply to the Joker, in fact, just the opposite. Things even the wildest comics might be afraid to find funny: burning somebody's face into oblivion, destroying a masterpiece in a museum—a subject as an art person even made me a little scared. Not this character. And I love that."

From The Making of Batman

13. ON BASKETBALL

"I've always thought basketball was the best sport, although it wasn't the sport I was best at. It was just the most fun to watch. ... Even as a kid it appealed to me. The basketball players were out at night. They had great overcoats. There was this certain nighttime juvenile-delinquent thing about it that got your blood going."

From Esquire's "What I Learned"

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios