6 Great Movies Directed by Comedic Actors

6 Great Movies Directed by Comedic Actors

When you think of actors-turned-directors, names like Clint Eastwood, Robert Redford and even Angelina Jolie come to mind. The thing they all have in common? They’re dramatic actors. For some reason, there’s a pipeline baked into the Hollywood system that makes it easier for dramatic actors to cross the threshold from set to director’s seat. They’re seen as people who have an inherent understanding of filmmaking, more so than their comedic counterparts. What makes that strange is that storytelling is a crucial component of comedy. 

That said, these six comedic actors have proven that they also have the chops to sit behind the camera and produce some great results…

‘A Quiet Place,’ John Krasinski

After stepping out of The Office, Krasinski crafted a new type of monster movie. His genre-bending 2018 post-apocalyptic flick A Quiet Place played with tension and sound in ways that felt simultaneously true to old classics and refreshingly new. The film’s success was bolstered by a gripping performance from his wife and co-star Emily Blunt and breakout performances from child actor Noah Jupe and deaf actress Millicent Simmonds, who was specifically cast as someone who could bring a level of authenticity to the script that a non-deaf actress could not.

‘Chef,’ Jon Favreau

With appearances in everything from Seinfeld to Monk to even a brief stint on Friends, Favreau had a long run as a reliable comedic character actor. Although he still acts occasionally, his reputation these days is as one of the hardest-working directors in Hollywood, largely thanks to the critical success of the greatest Christmas film of all time, Elf. And although most of his works are mega blockbusters like Iron Man and The Lion King, his best work behind the camera is the charming, feel-good 2014 indie Chef. Its scale obviously pales in comparison to his big-budget efforts, but the father-son comedy has enough heart to keep a fleet of food trucks running. 

‘Eighth Grade,’ Bo Burnham

Burnham rose through the ranks thanks to his YouTube presence in the late 2000s — even if the material was sometimes questionable at best. But like most shock-jocks who turned a new leaf, Burnham did the admirable thing by acknowledging that some of his work didn’t exactly balance satire and bigotry as well as he would have liked, and has since grown from it. His 2018 film Eighth Grade was an exercise related directly to his self-described tactless, 16-year-old self and a coming-of-age elegy on how the internet is forever.

‘Reality Bites,’ Ben Stiller

It’s totally fair that much of Stiller’s flair as a director gets credited to his 2008 war satire Tropic Thunder. But there’s another little film under Stiller’s belt that’s just as noteworthy. In fact, it was his directorial debut. While it wasn’t as immediately beloved as some of his other works, Reality Bites went on to achieve the “cult status” that’s often longer-lasting than instant fanfare and acclaim. The film’s resurgence is credited to great performances by Winona Ryder and Ethan Hawke and how deftly Stiller captured the zeitgeist of the early 1990s, something films are still struggling with today.

‘Get Out,’ Jordan Peele

When Peele’s directorial debut was announced, everyone expected him to play to his comedic chops; a natural instinct given that he’s one half of the long-standing comedic duo Key & Peele. But just like the film in question, Peele subverted expectations when he released the psychological horror Get Out in 2017. It was a torpedo to the industry that tackled race, class and politics in an entirely new and unexpected way (even with a little comedy here and there). It would go on to join a small class of films that have overcome the Academy’s strange prejudice against the horror genre, nabbing four Oscar nominations and earning Peele a golden statuette for the wholly original screenplay. 

‘Lady Bird,’ Greta Gerwig

Gerwig found her footing in Hollywood thanks to mumblecore — the indie subgenre that tries to find humor through relatability by employing naturalistic acting and improvisational acting. Her directorial debut, Nights and Weekends, was even part of the genre. But it wasn’t until her major studio solo-directorial debut that she really made a name for herself as a defining talent. Gerwig’s darling 2017 film Lady Bird, inspired largely by her Sacramento upbringing, earned her five Oscar nominations and paved the way for her billion-dollar global takeover with Barbie.

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