Beautiful relationships – where two come together as one – are rare and special things. But in the world of film, when a director finds an actor who can perfectly replicate his vision, it’s not only exciting for film lovers it’s potentially genre defining. Although the likes of Wilder and Lemmon, Lynch and MacLachlan, and Lean and Guinness all deserve mentions, join Greg Evans as he shares his personal Top Ten Best Actor-Director Collaborations. But don’t be shy … why not share your favourites with us in the comments below.
Kurt Russell & John Carpenter
Kurt Russell has created some the best anti-heroes to ever grace a cinema screen. Yet the aurora of cool that surrounds Russell is all down to the influence of John Carpenter. Through five movies Russell has battled against supernatural creatures and corrupt governments, all brilliantly concocted from the mind of Carpenter. The crazier and more deranged a situation Carpenter dreamt up, the greater Russell became.
Best Film: Escape From New York
Although The Thing may be Carpenter’s greatest contribution to film, Russell’s performance as the man with the eye patch – aka Snake Plissken -make it the duo’s best film.
Bill Murray & Wes Anderson
Dry humour. Sarcasm. Wit. An overwhelming sense of kitsch and cool. Bill Murray and Wes Anderson were bound to find each other sooner or later. Anderson’s particular way of depicting nostalgia and awkwardness is right up Murray’s street – and it shows. Starring in six of the directors seven films, Murray may have finally found a director that understands him.
Best Film: The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou
Although Murray is arguably excellent in all of Anderson’s films he rarely gets a starring role. As the inept but charming oceanographer, Murray is at his finest in the director’s tribute to Jacques Cousteau.
Akira Kurosawa & Toshiro Mifune
This duo have made sixteen films together and the title speak for themselves: Stray Dog, Rashomon, Throne Of Blood, The Hidden Fortress, Yojimbo, Sanjuro and many, many more. Not only did they make amazing films together, they defined genres and characters that are still being replicated today.
Best Film: Seven Samurai
Arguably any of the previously mentioned films would sit at the top of any other actor or director’s ‘best of’ list, but Seven Samurai gets the nod here. Not only is it a timeless classic but it shows both at their most influential best.
The Coen Brothers & Frances McDormand
The Coen’s have had many great relationships with actors. The likes of Steve Buscemi, John Turturro and John Goodman have all benefitted greatly from the Coen’s direction. In fact they all deserve to be considered as great contributors to the brothers’ stunning filmography. We give this nod, though, to one of the most empowering and intelligent women to ever grace American indie cinema. If anything, McDormand is the face of the Coen’s films and her performances not only define their film but also her own. Frances also happens to be married to Joel Coen, which is nice.
Best Film: Fargo
This grizzly, deadpan crime drama is undoubtedly McDormand’s finest performance but many would consider it to be the Coen’s finest effort to.
Sam Raimi & Bruce Campbell
Here is a true friendship made in movie heaven. Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell have been friends since childhood. And together they have created some of the bloodiest and funniest films ever. In fact, no matter what the film, Sam Raimi always finds a role for Bruce Campbell.
Best Film: Evil Dead 2
Whenever an actor claims to have worked under terrible conditions on a set, just think about what Bruce Campbell put himself through for Raimi in this horror classic. Not enough adjectives can be used to sum up how good this film is but only one will do; GROOVY!
Tim Burton & Johnny Depp
No actor and director collaboration list would be complete without this pairing. Although they have made some duds (Alice in Wonderland, Charlie And The Chocolate Factory) they have also made some of the most iconic films of the last 30 years together. Depp’s great physical acting combined with Burtons love of macabre has created a concoction that has been enticing audiences for years.
Best Film: Ed Wood
Edward Scissorhands will be the film they are best remembered for but Ed Wood is their true masterpiece. The story of the worst film director ever, couldn’t have been told in a more beautiful way, turning trash into pure art.
Woody Allen & Diane Keaton
Women are integral to Woody Allen’s films so it was natural that a woman would become his greatest comedic partner. Allen’s neurotic and anxious demeanour is perfectly captured by Diane Keaton, who also brought a great amount of sassiness to her characters. Allen would never find someone again quite fitted his style.
Best Film: Annie Hall
Considering Allen and Keaton were once an item, Annie Hall was bound to be an emotional but hilarious roller coaster. The giddiness of the two, not only makes this a comedy classic it’s also Allen’s best film.
John Ford & John Wayne
For a man who was born while the Wild West was still ripe, you would hope that John Ford would know a thing or two about era. Luckily he did. Every great western, though, needs a cowboy and there was never a finer cowboy than John Wayne. With twenty-one movies together, Ford and Wayne forged a cinematic history that was a turbulent as it was magnificent. Never have two men defined one genre so well.
Best Film: The Searchers
Nearly everything Ford and Wayne worked on turned into gold. From Stagecoach to The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, these two had a unparalleled chemistry. The Searchers, though, is one of those films that simply transcends the genre and is a landmark piece of filmmaking for any point of history. Wayne was mesmerising as the bitter and complex Ethan Edwards and Ford’s eye for cinema was never as good.
Werner Herzog & Klaus Kinski
Only a man who was as equally mad and as suicidal as Werner Herzog could possible begin to share the director’s vision. Not only did Klaus Kinski match Herzog’s warped idealism, he doubled it. Herzog’s brilliant 1999 documentary My Best Fiend told of their fractious relationship in which guns, death threats and walkouts were all commonplace. Whether they were constructing impossible scenarios or losing their sanity, Herzog and Kinski produced undeniable magic.
Best Film: Aguirre, The Wrath of God
Intense. Brooding. Visceral. Insane. These are just a few words to describe Aguirre, The Wrath of God. And we haven’t even mentioned Kinski’s performance. Herzog’s tale of an ill-fated expedition to El Dorado became an unforgettable piece of cinema that couldn’t have happened without these two twisted geniuses.
Martin Scorsese & Robert DeNiro
Over three decades, Scorsese and DeNiro challenged, attacked and recrafted American New Wave cinema. Their allegiance and shared vision in the early 70’s was clear from the first scenes of Mean Streets. Many younger audiences associate Scorsese with his newest muse, Leonardo Di Caprio. However it was DeNiro who put Scorsese on the map and vice versa. They both created iconic pieces of art that will both serve each other well in the annuls of time.
Best Film: Taxi Driver (Main Picture)
Raging Bull is an amazing portrait of a man’s tortured psyche and Goodfellas is one of the greatest films ever made. When it’s all said and done though, the haircut, “You talking to me?”, Jodie Foster and the bottomless pit of interpretations mean that Taxi Driver will be the DeNiro/Scorsese films that stands the test of time.