Directors/Actors: Sean Penn to Direct 'The Comedian'; Ben Affleck to Tackle 'Tell No One'

Directors/Actors: Sean Penn to Direct 'The Comedian'; Ben Affleck to Tackle 'Tell No One'

Jun 15, 2011

There’s an old saying in Hollywood – everyone wants to direct. Screenwriters, producers, people in the studio accounting department, parking valets, and even actors – all secretly long to wield the power that comes with helming a multimillion dollar Hollywood production. It appears as though there’s some truth to this, too – as several stories today revolve around well known actors ditching their normal gig in order to get behind the camera.

Ben Affleck, who earned critical acclaim for his work directing the crime thriller The Town, has lined up a new project – this one based on a Harlen Coben novel entitled Tell No One. Deadline New York states the actor-turned-filmmaker will start work on the project after he finishes his next feature, Argo, for Warner Bros.

Tell No One was originally set up at Sony Pictures, back in 2002. Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman were hired to adapt the book – a loopy thriller about a doctor suspected of murder on two different occasions – but the project never came together and Sony eventually let it go. Warners and Universal have now come onboard and hired Affleck and his Argo screenwriter Chris Terrio to bring Coben’s vision to the big screen. Looking at Affleck’s directorial body of work, adapting Coben seems like it fits – the actor has also helmed the adaptation of Dennis Lehane’s Gone Baby Gone back in 2007. Could Affleck be aiming to become the next Rob Reiner or Ron Howard? It’s too early to say – but it is interesting to note that Affleck the director currently has more projects active than Affleck the actor…

Another actor who’s earned acclaim for his work in the director’s chair is Sean Penn. The paparazzi-taunting thespian has toned down his antics as he ages and has helmed several noteworthy films over the past two decades – including 2007’s Into the Wild.

The New York Post is now reporting that Penn has agreed to helm Art Linson and Jeffrey Ross’s The Comedian – a story wherein Robert De Niro plays a bitterly funny aging comic in the vein of Don Rickles. Earlier reports from this year’s Cannes had Martin Scorsese helming the project, which is set to begin shooting in New York sometime next year. While there’s no official confirmation yet, the rumor does make sense on some levels – Penn and De Niro have a relationship with Linson, who produced Heat, The Untouchables, and What Just Happened. Until we get official word, file this one under rumor.

All this talk of actors directing got us thinking – who’s an actor who’s never helmed a project who you’d love to see behind the camera? I’ll get you started: Harvey Keitel. List your own choices in the comment section below. 

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