Many of the most well-known actors and actresses wear more than one hat behind the scenes. In front of the camera, they might change the original script with ad-libbing or suggesting different lines for their character. Behind the screen, many have been known to take a bigger creative role. Sometimes an actor or actress simply believes in a project and wants to make it happen, other times a film requires an additional investment during production and the studio well has run dry.
It’s not uncommon for a star to help fund a project they work on, though that tends to translate to an executive producer credit, as opposed to a producer credit. The distinction there is that the executive producer need not be quite as “hands-on” with production. A producer—in addition to sourcing the funding for the project—helps with casting and also makes artistic contributions to the set, location arrangements, and the film’s final form. In short, film producers have an enormous influence over everything from the filmmaking process to the culture of the movie set.
There are occasions when an actor is a frequent collaborator with a director, and their role as producer goes hand in hand with that partnership. But it’s rare for an actor to take on the role of a core producer in the nitty-gritty of the production—from pre- to post-production, or frankly, anywhere in between. Still, it does happen—perhaps more often than you might think.
To that end, Giggster compiled a list of actors representing a diverse range of age, race, and expression who have all produced at least two of their own movies. To be included, the actor had to have produced more than one of their own films and been billed not merely as executive producer but as producer or producer and executive producer.
While not a prolific producer, Antonio Banderas has still helped make some movies a reality through his contributions. His first producing credit was 1999’s “The White River Kid,” where he also portrayed a con man working alongside his adoptive brother (Bob Hoskins). He also produced and starred in the animated film “Justin and the Knights of Valour” in 2013 and the science fiction movie “Automata” in 2014.
Drew Barrymore has been a driving force in producing many of her iconic movies, starting with an executive producer credit on 1999’s rom-com “Never Been Kissed.” Since then, Barrymore has taken a hands-on production approach in such films as “Charlie’s Angels” and its follow-up “Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle”; “Duplex,” where she starred opposite Ben Stiller for director Danny DeVito; and “Whip It,” the modern roller-derby classic, which she also directed. Perhaps her most surprising (executive) producing credit, however, is “Donnie Darko,” which sees her in a small but pivotal role as the titular character’s English teacher.
Arguably one of Hollywood’s greatest actors, Warren Beatty is well-known for being an “all-hands” filmmaker. From 1967’s “Bonnie and Clyde,” where he starred alongside Faye Dunaway in the film’s titular roles, through his most recent credit, 2016’s “Rules Don’t Apply,” Beatty has produced—or executive produced, in a few rare cases—every film with which he’s been associated. Moreover, he is an accomplished director, and of course, he has produced each of his directorial efforts too. Several films he directed are contemporary classics, among them “Reds” (for which he won the Best Picture Oscar), “Dick Tracy,” and “Bugsy.”
Fang Shilong, known internationally as Jackie Chan, is considered a figurehead in globalizing kung fu martial arts through film. He has more than 60 producer credits to his name, among them the Hong Kong action flick “The Accidental Spy” and the 2004 remake of “Around the World in 80 Days.” He is the chairman of JCE Movies Limited, which produces films for both China and the U.S.
Given how this silent film icon also directed and wrote many of the movies in which he starred, it should come as no surprise that Charlie Chaplin has an extensive producing résumé. The majority of his producing credits were uncredited during his lifetime, however, he still helped bring such classics as “The Immigrant” and “The Great Dictator” to the cinematic canon.
Not to mention, he was one of the founders of United Artists, along with actors Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford and director D.W. Griffith (which, today, is part of MGM and owned by Amazon Studios).
Much like he does many of his own stunts, Tom Cruise has produced a significant number of the movies he’s starred in. His producing career began with 1996’s “Mission: Impossible,” and he has produced every film in the franchise ever since, including the forthcoming “Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning.”
In 1992, Cruise and his then-agent Paula Wagner founded Cruise/Wagner Productions in order to give him more creative control over his movies. When the shingle went defunct in 2008, Cruise simply carried on alone, by which time he had more than enough bankability in the industry to make the films he wanted. He also produced 2004’s “The Last Samurai,” both films in his Jack Reacher series, as well as the 2022 installment of his popular Top Gun franchise, “Top Gun: Maverick.”
Not only has he directed and starred in films such as 1992’s “Hoffa” and 1996’s beloved family film “Matilda,” Danny DeVito has also produced some of the most successful films of the past 30 years. After co-founding Jersey Films in 1992, DeVito went on to produce hits including “Reality Bites,” “Get Shorty” (in which he also starred), and a pair of Steven Soderbergh films, including “Out of Sight” and the Oscar-winning “Erin Brockovich.” Additionally, he’s been the producing force behind the Liam Neeson action thriller, “A Walk Among the Tombstones,” and the 2007 drama, “Freedom Writers,” starring two-time Oscar-winning actress Hilary Swank.
Given her status as a comedic icon, it might be surprising that Tina Fey has only produced two of her movies. While a prolific television producer, her first feature producing credit was 2015’s “Sisters,” in which Fey starred alongside former “Saturday Night Live” cast member Amy Poehler, which she followed with “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot,” a dramedy about a journalist covering the war in Afghanistan. However, she is adapting the “Mean Girls” Broadway musical (based on the 2004 film she herself wrote) into a film, which is currently in development.
Like other entries on this list, Oscar-winning actress Jodie Foster is known for producing movies she’s also starred in and occasionally directs. Her first producing credit came with 1985’s “Mesmerized,” which she co-produced alongside Antony I. Ginnane and Christopher J. Kirkham. Nearly 10 years and two Best Actress Oscars later, Foster produced and starred in “Nell,” followed swiftly by her first directorial effort, the 1995 Thanksgiving holiday comedy “Home for the Holidays.”
She also produced and took a supporting role in “The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys” in 2002. Her latest producing effort was the documentary, “Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice Guy-Blaché,” which she also narrated.
In 1996, Tom Hanks wrote and co-starred in his directorial debut, “That Thing You Do!” That story of a one-hit-wonder rock ’n’ roll band was the genesis for Hanks’ production shingle, Playtone, which is taken from the record label the fictional band was signed to in the movie. Beginning with the HBO limited series “From the Earth to the Moon,” Hanks and Playtone have been behind numerous successful film and TV series since.
Hanks’ first feature producing credit was 2000’s “Cast Away,” for which he also secured a Best Actor Academy Award nomination. Since then he has pulled double duty in such films as “Charlie Wilson’s War,” “The Great Buck Howard,” and “Larry Crowne,” which he also directed. He is also producing the upcoming dramedy, “A Man Called Otto,” in which he is also starring.
While her producing credits are not as lengthy as other entries on this list, Salma Hayek has helped bring important and engaging stories to the big screen. She co-produced 2002’s “Frida,” the acclaimed biopic in which she also played Frida Kahlo. Other movies that Hayek helped to produce include 2014’s “The Prophet,” an animated drama about the homebound journey of an exiled poet to whom Hayek also lent her voice acting, and the following year’s “Septembers of Shiraz,” in which she co-starred with Oscar winner Adrien Brody.
A powerhouse in the entertainment industry, Queen Latifah has helped produce many movies that she starred in over the years. Her first executive producing credit was 2003’s “Bringing Down the House,” and she very quickly transitioned to producer with “The Cookout” and “Beauty Shop” in the two years after. Her film production has dwindled in recent years as she began appearing more on television, but she has continued to be an active producer on the small screen through her entertainment company Flavor Unit Entertainment.
While having starred in several movies previously, pop star Jennifer Lopez’s first foray into producing was the 2006 film “El Cantante,” in which she starred alongside ex-husband Marc Anthony. Perhaps her most successful producing role was 2019’s “Hustlers,” where she also gave a critically acclaimed performance. She most recently produced, starred in, and performed the entire soundtrack for the 2022 romantic comedy “Marry Me” and has several projects in the pipeline, including the action thriller “The Mother,” which will see her playing an assassin who comes out of hiding to protect the daughter she once gave up.
Given how influential Eddie Murphy has been in the comedy world, it might come as a surprise just how few of his films he produced himself. His first producing credit was 1995’s “Vampire in Brooklyn,” though he had been a credited executive producer on his comedy films of the 1980s as well as his directorial effort, 1989’s “Harlem Nights.” In the last two decades, Murphy has produced and acted in 2007’s “Norbit,” 2019’s “Dolemite Is My Name,” and the 2021 sequel to one of his most successful films of the ’80s, “Coming 2 America.”
Tyler Perry has become a modern-day Hollywood legend, thanks in large part to his prolific production company, Tyler Perry Studios. He has produced the majority of movies he has starred in, most notably every single entry of his Madea franchise. Other notable movies he has produced, starred in, and even directed include “Why Did I Get Married?” and “A Fall from Grace.” He is currently producing “Sister Act 3,” the long-awaited sequel that will see Whoopi Goldberg reprise her role as the beloved Deloris Wilson.
Oscar-winning actor Brad Pitt has produced a plethora of movies under his company Plan B Entertainment Inc., many of which he also starred in. He produced and starred in 2007’s “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford,” marking the first time he ever produced a movie in which he also acted. He has been both the face of and behind-the-scenes power for such films as “Moneyball,” “World War Z,” “The Big Short,” and most recently, 2019’s “Ad Astra.”
It took a bit for Aubrey Plaza to begin her producing journey, but it has already resulted in some notable credits and roles. The “Parks and Recreation” star’s first producing credit was 2017’s “The Little Hours,” directed by her husband and frequent collaborator, Jeff Baena. That same year also saw the release of “Ingrid Goes West,” in which Plaza plays a slightly unhinged social media stalker opposite actress Elizabeth Olsen, of Avengers franchise fame. Plaza also produced and starred in the acclaimed “Black Bear” in 2020 as well as 2022’s “Emily the Criminal.”
In addition to founding the Sundance Film Festival, Robert Redford has one of the longest and strongest résumés in Hollywood—and not just as an actor but as a producer and director as well. His Wildwood Enterprises Inc. production company has been behind many of Redford’s films, including “Three Days of the Condor,” “The Company You Keep,” and “Our Souls at Night.” Moreover, Redford is a credited producer on many of the other films he has directed and/or starred in, notable among them are 1994’s Oscar-nominated “Quiz Show,” 1998’s “The Horse Whisperer,” and 2015’s “A Walk in the Woods,” an adaptation of Bill Bryson’s classic account of wanderlust.
Although Margot Robbie’s producing credits are relatively small, she is on her way to becoming a powerhouse producer. She produced (and starred in) 2017’s critically acclaimed, Oscar-winning “I, Tonya” and has since produced the noir “Terminal,” Depression-era thriller “Dreamland,” and perhaps most well-known, “Birds of Prey.” She will also be producing and starring in the buzzy “Barbie” for director Greta Gerwig, slated for 2023.
There is no denying that Barbra Streisand is an entertainment icon, having conquered the music and filmmaking industries in more ways than one. Despite only having three film-producing credits to her name, they were movies that she also directed and starred in. 1983’s “Yentl” won her two Golden Globes for both Best Motion Picture–Musical or Comedy and Best Director. She was nominated for the Best Picture Oscar for her producing work on “The Prince of Tides” in 1991. 1996’s “The Mirror Has Two Faces” was met with equal acclaim—co-star and acting legend Lauren Bacall earned an Oscar nomination for the movie—but Streisand has not produced or directed a film since.
Like many similarly acclaimed actresses, Charlize Theron has produced many movies she’s also starred in. Her first producing credit was the 2003 biopic “Monster,” a film for which Theron took home the Academy Award for Best Actress. Since then, she has pulled double duty for projects like “Tully,” the film adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s novel “Dark Places,” the action smash “Atomic Blonde,” and “Bombshell,” a drama film that looks at how three women in the Fox News empire took on the network’s toxic work environment.
Two-time Oscar winner Denzel Washington has made a respectable name for himself as a producer and director, ever since his first foray into producing with 2002’s “Antwone Fisher.” Since then he has worked as both actor and producer on “The Book of Eli” and both films in the Equilizer series and took a threefer on “Fences,” directing Viola Davis to win the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, the first Oscar triumph of her career.
Starting with 1991’s “A Rage in Harlem,” Forest Whitaker has used his star power to help produce movies by new filmmakers such as 2005’s “American Gun,” the directorial debut of “Behind the Movement” filmmaker Aric Avelino, and “Powder Blue,” Timothy Linh Bui’s critically heralded sophomore effort. Whitaker took supporting roles in both films. He also produced the critical and commercially successful “Fruitvale Station,” “Sorry to Bother You,” and “Passing,” the 2021 Rebecca Hall adaptation of the classic Nella Larsen novel.
Dubbed the “Queen of All Media,” Oprah Winfrey has developed a media empire that includes stints in film production. Her first film producing credit was the ABC television movie “Before Women Had Wings” in 1997, and soon after she stepped boldly into film, producing and starring in Jonathan Demme’s 1998 adaptation of Toni Morrison’s novel “Beloved.” Winfrey also helped produce 2014’s “Selma,” the 2017 TV movie “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks,” and was the producer behind Denzel Washington’s sophomore directorial effort, 2007’s “The Great Debaters.”
While in recent years she’s become most well-known for her burgeoning book club, “Reese’s Book Club,” Reese Witherspoon is still a very powerful player behind the camera. She served as executive producer on 2003’s “Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde,” and from there has used her largesse as a producer to get such acclaimed acting vehicles as 2014’s “Wild” and 2006’s “Penelope” off the ground. Her most recent film producing and starring credit was 2015’s “Hot Pursuit,” but she has not faded away in the slightest; she starred in and produced the series “Big Little Lies,” “Little Fires Everywhere,” and “The Morning Show.”
This story originally appeared on Giggster and was produced and distributed in partnership with Stacker Studio.
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