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40 Great Actor and Director Collaborations

When I read this article on Empire Online it got me thinking, which pair do I consider the best and do I think they left some great collaborations out?  I mean sure, this is a great list, but could I really narrow my favorite down to just one?  And I can certainly think of a few they’ve left out.  Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio, anyone?  John Hughes and Molly Ringwald?  Dennis Dugan and Adam Sandler?  I’m sure we can all think of at least one that they’ve left out.  But alas, this list is chock full of some greats.  But as I was trying to narrow it down to my all-time favorite, I found that I couldn’t.  As my list grew shorter, I realized that I liked these pairs for completely different reasons. 

Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro (9 films together) made the cut for me because they brought out the best in each other during the worst of times.  Their films together are filled with such intensity that, to this day, I still get chills when I watch Raging Bull.  Scorsese directed De Niro in a Best Actor Oscar performance in this film.  This masterpiece, filmed in black and white, has been called Scorsese’s best film and I couldn’t agree more.  The lengths De Niro went through to properly portray Jake La Motta are astounding.  First, De Niro learned how to box and transformed his body to the perfect boxer’s physique.  Then, he gained 60 pounds to portray La Motta in his later years.  And, on top of all this,  Scorsese credits De Niro with saving his life!  Scorsese had a nasty cocaine addiction and De Niro convinced him to kick the habit and help him bring La Motta’s story to the big screen.  The rest, as they say, is history. 

Another pair that made the short list for me is Tim Burton and Johnny Depp (7 films together…for now).  Burton has allowed Depp to basically create his characters with no boundaries.  Sometimes it’s incredibly successful (Edward Scissorhands) and sometimes not so much (Charlie And The Chocolate Factory).  But their mutual respect has also allowed them the freedom to make films that are so weird and yet they’re still accessible to the general public.  Burton lets Depp take his characters to the far corners of insanity and Depp trusts Burton so much that he has said if Burton asks him “to have sex with an aardvark in one of his next movies, then I will do that.”  Depp has credited Burton’s belief in him with rescuing him from being “a loser, an outcast, just another piece of expendable Hollywood meat.”   They’re such good mates that Depp is godfather to Burton’s children. 

Alfred Hitchcock and Jimmy Stewart (4 films together) also made my short list.  Jimmy Stewart was the epitome of the idealistic everyday man.  However, under the direction of Hitchcock, Stewart was able to spread his wings and explore another kind of character.  In Rear Window he had the chance to be obsessive and paranoid, all while being stuck on a wheelchair.  In Vertigo he was able to show his fear.  And although I like that Frank Capra and Jimmy Stewart also made this list, I had to choose Hitchcock and Stewart because Hitchcock brought out the Stewart that the public wasn’t quite used to seeing on the big screen, and God love him for it!

I knew my list couldn’t be complete if I didn’t include Pedro Almodovar and Penelope Cruz (4 films together…so far).  Almodovar’s films have consistently had strong female characters that so many typical Hollywood films always seem to lack.  And Cruz always shines in these roles.  This Spanish duo has made all four collaborations in Spanish-language films, but that hasn’t hindered their attention in Hollywood.  Cruz even received her first Academy Award nomination under Almodovar’s direction in Volver.  And, Cruz has credited her determination to become an actress to Victoria Abril’s performance in one of Almodovar’s films (Atame!).

My list includes a few others but I’d like to hear what your opinions are about this.  Do you have an all-time favorite collaboration?  Do you think this list is lacking?  Comment and let me know!

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