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The 10 greatest actor-director bromances in movie history


Last week it was confirmed that Tim Burton would be joining forces once again with his Beetlejuice and Batman star Michael Keaton for the first time since 1992’s Batman Returns.

Keaton will be playing the bad guy role in Burton’s live-action reimagining of Dumbo, due for release next year. This will be the fourth collaboration between Keaton and Burton, in what’s obviously a fruitful creative partnership. But what other directors and actors regularly team-up on the big screen? Here are our favourites...

Robert De Niro and Martin Scorsese

Number of films together: 8

Despite growing up in the same city at the same time, The World’s Greatest Actor (™) and The World’s Greatest Director (™) never knew each other as kids, but when they met in the early 1970s it was, according to them, as if they’d known each their entire lives.

Scorsese cast De Niro as the volatile Johnny Boy in his breakout hit Mean Streets, before casting him in a run of big screen classics – Taxi Driver, New York, New York, Raging Bull, The King of Comedy, Goodfellas, Cape Fear and Casino. Although they haven’t made a movie together since 1995, they did reunite for a short film in 2015 entitled The Audition.

The 16-minute short was a promo piece for a chain of casinos, but there are plans for the two to team up on another gangster flick, the long-gestating mob thriller The Irishman, which will also reunite Scorsese with Joe Pesci and - quite possibly - Al Pacino!

Samuel L. Jackson and Quentin Tarantino

Number of films together: 6

Tarantino likes his little rep company around him. He’s worked with numerous actors several times (Tim Roth has been in three, Michael Madsen four, Harvey Keitel three, etc), but there seems to be a special bond between Tarantino and Samuel L Jackson.

Although he missed Tarantino’s debut, Reservoir Dogs, he’s appeared in most of the director’s movies ever since, excluding Kill Bill Vol 1 and Death Proof. According to Tarantino, he’s going to retire from films after making his tenth, so that means there’s only two more movies to go from the ever-controversial director. We’d bet good money on Samuel L. Jackson being in them!

Johnny Depp and Tim Burton

Number of films together: 8

When Tim Burton was casting his gothic fairytale Edward Scissorhands in 1990, Johnny Depp wasn’t the most obvious choice to play the eponymous, scissorhanded Edward. A perfectly-cheekboned heartthrob, the Deppster was keen to ditch the pin-up roles and prove his worth in weirder, more offbeat movies.

In the years since, he’s played a succession of eccentrics and outcasts for the famously dark director, but our favourite has to be Edward D Wood Jr, the man often described as the worst filmmaker of all time, from Burton’s sublime biopic Ed Wood. And although it doesn’t look like Depp will be joining Michael Keaton for Dumbo, we can’t imagine it’ll be long before Tim and Johnny team up again… Edward Scissorhands 2, anyone?

Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright

Number of films together: 3

Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright’s bromance started back in 1996, when Pegg, then 26, worked with the 22-year-old Wright on Asylum, a short-lived Paramount Comedy Channel series. Wright then directed the Channel 4 sitcom Spaced for Pegg and co-writer Jessica Stevenson before he and Pegg teamed up to co-pen the zombie comedy Shaun of the Dead.

The first of the so-termed Cornetto Trilogy, the duo soon followed it up with Hot Fuzz, before completing the series with The World’s End. But don’t think that’s the end of the Pegg-Wright brand. They’ve both suggested they’ll team up again, only this time for a non-Cornetto movie. We can’t wait.

Michael Caine and Christopher Nolan

Number of films together: 6

Let’s face it, most directors would love a bit of Michael Caine in their movies, but there’s something special about the relationship between Caine and director Christopher Nolan. "We’re each others’ good luck charms," the actor once said.

Their relationship began when Nolan picked Caine, then 72, to be his Alfred in the Christian Bale-headlining Batman Begins in 2005. Caine went on to appear in both Bat-sequels, as well as The Prestige (2006), Inception (2010) and Interstellar (2014). Sadly, he’s sitting out Nolan’s next film, Dunkirk, but here’s hoping they hook up again together soon. "Being able to say, ‘My great friend Sir Michael Caine’," Nolan said recently, "is one of the great pleasures of my life." 

Leonardo DiCaprio and Martin Scorsese

Number of films together: 5

It’s been 22 years since the last Scorsese-De Niro hook-up, but it was actually Robert De Niro who recommended Scorsese’s NEXT muse to him. De Niro had worked with Leonardo DiCaprio on the movie The Boy’s Life in 1993, and so when Scorsese was casting his 19th century crime epic Gangs of New York, it was DiCaprio he turned to.

In the years since, the duo have made five films together, the last one being the outrageous Wolf of Wall Street. They also teamed up for the short The Audition which finally saw Scorsese direct De Niro AND DiCaprio in the same film! (See below)

Matt Damon and Steven Soderbergh

Number of films together: 7

Although Steven Soderbergh is most associated with George Clooney (they’ve made six films and ran a production company together), the truth is they haven’t made a movie together since 2007’s Ocean’s Thirteen.

Instead, Matt Damon beats out Clooney by one film. The director and star first worked together on 2001’s Ocean’s Eleven (though Damon was a replacement for first choice Mark Wahlberg, who bailed in order to do Planet of the Apes), and last teamed up on the Liberace biopic, Behind the Candelabra (with Ocean’s Twelve, Ocean’s Thirteen, Che: Part Two, The Informant!, and Contagion in between).

And they’re working together again, in a roundabout way, when Damon reprises his role as Linus Caldwell for the spin-off movie, Ocean’s Eight, out next year, which Soderbergh is producing.

Melissa McCarthy and Paul Feig

Number of films together: 4

When these two team up you know you’re in for a comic treat. The comedy director already had two films under his belt when he cast Melissa McCarthy as the scene-stealing Megan Price in the 2011 movie Bridesmaids. He then cast her alongside Sandra Bullock in buddy cop comedy The Heat and then again in the gloriously silly spoof, Spy. McCarthy also popped up as one of the new Ghostbusters in Feig’s 2016 remake.

Bill Murray and Wes Anderson

Number of films together: 7

Bill Murray has a reputation of being, how to put it, a little prickly on set, but that doesn’t seem to have put off Wes Anderson who’s directed the former Ghostbuster in no less than seven films.

Their professional relationship started on Anderson’s second movie, the brilliantly offbeat comedy Rushmore. Since then, Murray has turned up in every Anderson film, from The Royal Tenenbaums to The Grand Budapest Hotel. And rest assured, he’s in Anderson’s NEXT movie, the stop-motion animation, Isle of Dogs. "He’s a great collaborator," says Anderson. "I love working with him, and I think he has fun, too. There’s nobody better to have on a movie set than Bill Murray."

Will Ferrell and Adam McKay

Number of films together: 5

Together this actor-director coupling have given us some of the funniest movies of the past 15 years. Since teaming up for the cult hit Anchorman (which they wrote together), Will and Adam have co-penned numerous comedies such as Step Brothers, Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, The Other Guys and Anchorman 2.

And although McKay seems to have moved into a more dramatic direction recently (he bagged himself an Oscar for 2015’s The Big Short), we’re hoping this comic dream team will once more get together for more comic adventures.

Got some favourite actor-director bromances of your own? Send us your choices @Cineworld.