Later on in an ongoing TV series run, one of the cast members may get the idea in their head to take a turn at the helm. They'll have been around a set and crew for some time now and having shifted from the floating jobbing actor life to a more stable schedule, a desire to try something new may be piquing up. Now considering that by this stage they will have a decent relationship with the production staff, who probably don't want to say no and who also don't want the stars to getting ideas of wandering off into their head, the idea of directing an episode will come up.
Not much will change stylistically in this episode, since a good budding director will try to emulate the ongoing style to fit it while a bad one would hopefully be steered heavily by the established staff, however the episodes may be noted for sticking the actor's character out of the way so that they can focus on the directing. On the other hand, maybe they go for the opposite, having an episode that does focus heavily on them, so that they don't so much have to deal with directing other people's acting.
Of course, you might not want to trust the coffee passed to you by the guy who went to film school, worked as a runner for five years and spent every day sucking up to the director to no avail...
Writer-actor, director-actor and other hyphenated jobs titles are normally used to refer to someone who develops more than one role simultaneously. That is not this trope. This trope is about those whose careers evolve (or attempt to evolve) into another role, using their current employment as a springboard. Think Dual classing vs Multi-classing
with Directed by Cast Member being Dual Classing
See also Written By Cast Member
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- Clint Eastwood started doing this in the 1970s.
- In fact, the Director's Guild of America has a rule named after Eastwood. It prevents a current cast or crew member from replacing the director of the film (it became the Eastwood rule after Clint gave the boot to Philip Kaufman when shooting The Outlaw Josey Wales). This is why, in a Troubled Production like Rambo: First Blood Part II or Tombstone where the director quits or gets fired, the de facto cast member director has to find a de jure director through whom to work.
- Let's not forget that Eastwood was recognized as the oldest man to direct his own film and have it become a #1 box office hit with Gran Torino.
- Several of the Star Trek films.
- Kurt Russell ghost directed some scenes of Tombstone after the original director was fired. After a new director was found, Russell still helped with some of the directing.
- Russell has said that he ghost-directed the entire film, with George Cosmatos taking credit so it didn't look like Russell forced his way into the director's chair. The only condition was that Cosmatos would take credit until he died (which happened in 2005).
- Cosmatos is also supposed to have become the director for the film for the reason that he did the same during First Blood Part 2 (as mentioned above).
- In a case of What Could Have Been, a candidate for directing the third Harry Potter film was Kenneth Branagh, who had played Professor Lockhart in the previous film. In the end, however, Alfonso Cuarón was chosen as director.
- In cases of things that DID happen, Kenneth Branagh does this almost all the time in his films of Shakespeare's plays.
- In this case "2nd Unit Directed By Cast Member", Andy Serkis got the opportunity to direct his scene Sméagol in The Return of the King. Having shown himself to be able to shoot as the director likes, he was then also hired as second unit director.
- Tom Hanks directed That Thing You Do! and Larry Crowne along with acting in them (he also co-wrote and produced the latter).
- The Devils Hairpin was written and directed by Cornel Wilde who also is the main star.
- Danny De Vito and his real wife Rhea Pearlman in the film adaptation of Matilda. De Vito directs, and also plays both Harry Wormwood and the narrator.
- Ben Affleck has graduated to this stage, including Gone Baby Gone (a subversion; Ben directs, but brother Casey Affleck is the main star), and two where Ben himself was the protagonist - The Town and Argo.
- When Monty Python moved to the silver screen, three of their four films were directed by member Terry Jones. Terry Gilliam was co-director for Holy Grail, but decided to back out of the remaining two films after he and Jones clashed due to their contrasting styles.
- Mash's Alan Alda (who, quite famously, also wrote for the show - in fact, he directed most of the episodes he is credited for writing).
- Harry Morgan and Mike Farrell also directed several episodes each. David Ogden Stiers directed a couple. Even Jamie Farr had one episode behind the camera.
- Friends - David Schwimmer, who parlayed this into a career directing feature films and TV shows in which he does not star (most notably Run, Fat Boy, Run!).
- Stargate SG-1
- Michael Shanks directed several and wrote a few (interestingly, one of Shanks' early episodes involved robot clones and he was able to get out of half of the screen time by just killing the clone).
- Amanda Tapping directed an episode (season 7's "Resurrection", which, incidentally, was written by Michael Shanks).
- Robert Carlyle also directed an episode of Spin-Off Stargate Universe.
- Ben Browder wrote two episodes of his earlier series, Farscape: Green Eyed Monster and John Quixote.
- Sanctuary - Amanda Tapping has taken more than one spin in the director's chair, while Robin Dunne made his directing debut in season 4.
- The West Wing - Richard Schiff, the episodes "Talking Points" and "A Good Day".
- Schiff's co-star on The West Wing, Bradley Whitford, directed the season (ultimately the series) finale of Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. He also wrote two episodes of The West Wing, one each in the show last two seasons.
- Whitford's co-star on Studio 60, Timothy Busfield, directed six episodes of the show.
- Tom Welling got seven episodes (one each in seasons 5–9, and two in season 10) on Smallville. The first one was considered to be one of his character's better episodes. Michael Rosenbaum, John Schneider and Justin Heartly all directed one episode each (in seasons 6, 3 and 10, respectively), while Allison Mack directed two (one each in seasons 8 and 9). Heartly also got to write one episode of season 10.
- About three-quarters of the entire cast of all five Star Trek series have directed at least one episode. William Shatner has directed one of the movies, and Leonard Nimoy and Jonathan Frakes have each directed two of them.
- Averted during the run of the Original Series. None of the original cast ever directed a TV episode of any Star Trek series.
- Gates McFadden, who is more well regarded as a choreographer than actor, directed the episode "Genesis," where her expertise in directing movement was put to good use. Her own character spends most of the episode in stasis, freeing her to focus on direction.
- Star Trek also passed along cast member directors between series. Roxann Dawson and Robert Duncan McNeill both directed episodes of Enterprise, and Dawson also directed episodes of Voyager. Jonathan Frakes directed an episode of Deep Space Nine. Levar Burton tops them all by directing episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager and Enterprise.
- Star Trek: Deep Space Nine was so fond of this that even Andrew Robinson (a recurring guest star, rather than a main cast member) directed an episode.
- Note that many of the Star Trek cast member-directors are now or were professors of directing and acting for the stage: Jonathan Frakes (Rockport College), Avery Brooks (Rutgers University), Andrew J. Robinson (USC), Rene Auberjonois (Juilliard).
- Pointedly averted by Nana Visitor who, aware of the predilection of her castmates to direct episodes, always denied that she would ever do so herself: "Cirroc Lofton [the only child actor in the cast] will direct an episode before I do", she was fond of saying. As Lofton aged and that actually became a possibility, she switched it to "my [then-infant] son".
- Over on Star Trek: Voyager, Ethan Phillips also made it clear that he had no intention of ever calling the shots on an episode.
- While normally the episodes directed by a cast member either don't feature their character (such as the Voyager episode "Riddles," in which B'Elanna Torres (that episode's director Roxann Dawson) doesn't appear at all) or only feature them briefly, the much-praised Deep Space Nine episode "Far Beyond the Stars" sticks out because it was directed by Avery Brooks, who features prominently in pretty much every single scene.
- The reason for this was that the episode was about racism in the 1950s and the writers thought that the episode would suffer if it wasn't directed by someone who has to live with it today.
- The episode was originally supposed to star Cirroc Lofton, but it had to be changed due to schedule issues.
- One of the complaints Garrett Wang had about his time on Voyager was that he never got to a direct an episode, despite asking several times. In fact, Wang holds the dubious distinction of being the only actor in the entire franchise who wanted to direct, but was never allowed to. Looks like Harry Kim's Butt Monkey status is contagious...
- William Shatner did direct ten episodes of TJ Hooker. James Darren (who played Officer Jim Corrigan) directed an episode himself.
- Scrubs has seven episodes directed by Zach Braff (who, at the point he started directing episodes, had already written and directed one movie), including "My No Good Reason", "My Princess" and "My Way Home" ("My Way Home" even being one of the most well-received episodes of the later years of the show's run). Bill Lawrence has said Braff is probably the best director in the crew for large-scale shoots, which is why the more unusual episodes often go to him.
- David Boreanaz directed a fifth-season episode of Angel in the episode where Angel spends all his time bedridden in hallucinations.
- David Boreanaz also directed a fourth-season episode and the 100th episode of Bones.
- Robin Williams directed the final episode of Mork and Mindy.
- Peter Falk directed an early episode of Columbo and also wrote one of the post-1989 episodes.
- In addition, regular guest star Patrick McGoohan directed a number of episodes.
- Edward James Olmos has directed three episodes of the new Battlestar Galactica. He also directed the 2009 BSG TV movie, The Plan.
- The Bob Newhart Show - Peter Bonerz started directing episodes in Season 2, beginning a successful career behind the camera on this and many other series.
- Susan Flannery has been a regular director on The Bold And The Beautiful in addition to her starring role as Stephanie Forrester for several years now. Her directing skills so impressed CBS that she was invited to direct a few episodes of another soap on CBS, Guiding Light.
- The Brady Bunch - Robert Reed directed four episodes.
- In Chuck, Zachary Levi directed a major third-season episode, "Chuck vs. the Beard".
- Coach - Craig T. Nelson directed 25 episodes (this extends to his other series, as he also did an episode of Call To Glory and two instalments of The District).
- Several members of the production team of British Game Show Countdown are former contestants of the show.
- Dalziel and Pascoe. Both Warren Clarke (Dalziel) and Colin Buchanan (Pascoe) directed episodes.
- The Dick Van Dyke Show - Jerry Paris went on to a long directorial career on this and many other shows.
- Drake & Josh
- The episode "Battle of Panthatar" was directed by Josh Peck.
- Drake Bell got his turn by directing the first part of the "Really Big Shrimp" special
- Kelsey Grammer has directed numerous episodes of Frasier, many focusing on his character although his first episode, "Moon Dance", only featured Frasier in 2 scenes. Dan Butler (Bulldog) has also directed an episode, albeit one in which his character does not appear.
- Several of Grammer's episodes are ones with notable flourishes: "Three Valentines" involved one continuous take as Niles sets his trousers on fire, as well as three independent storylines; "RDWRER", which is set mostly in a Winnebago; "Rooms With A View", which is set in a hospital waiting room with flashbacks being done by transitions to other rooms; and in "Don Juan in Hell: Part 2", Frasier ends up in a cabin full of
guest stars every girl he's ever dated (including his mother, as he always was a Freudian).
- Unsurprisingly, several episodes of Hawaii Five-O were directed by Jack Lord.
- Adrian Paul directed several episodes of Highlander: The Series.
- Hugh Beaumont directed a number of Leave It To Beaver episodes.
- Paul Schrier (Bulk) directed several episodes of Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers with Jason Narvy (Skull) assistance, much to many people's surprise given the morons they played. Reportedly they were offered the opportunity to make up for many of their scenes in The Movie being cut.
- The Monkees: Micky Dolenz and Peter Tork directed episodes. Dolenz later had some success as a TV director in Britain.
- Night Court - John Larroquette helmed a couple of episodes.
- Patrick McGoohan always had complete control over The Prisoner, so it isn't surprising that he wrote and directed many episodes - usually under pseudonyms.
- Michael Chiklis (Vic Mackey) has directed a few episdoes of The Shield.
- Dick Christie directed a few episodes of Small Wonder.
- Parodied in a sketch by The State: An actress is starring in and directing a TV costume drama. The scene shown is a monologue of hers, which is repeatedly injected with camera instructions.
- WKRP in Cincinnati: Frank Bonner directed 5 episodes, and Howard Hesseman and Gordon Jump directed one each.
- The X-Files:
- David Duchovny directed a few of the later episodes, namely "The Unnatural", "Hollywood A.D.", and "William". He also wrote "The Unnatural" and "Hollywood A.D.", and co-wrote "William". He had a few co-writer credits for other mostly Myth Arc episodes.
- And Gillian Anderson wrote and directed "all things" (the lack of capitalization is stylized), which further explored her character.
- Carroll O'Connor directed episodes of Archie Bunker's Place and In the Heat of the Night.
- Colin Ferguson (Carter), Joe Morton (Henry), and Salli Richardson-Whitfield (Allison) have all directed episodes of Eureka.
- Jason Bateman directed Afternoon Delight of Arrested Development. The episode is "standard fair" (as in, a show with a large ensemble where the majority of the characters gets a subplot each).
- The Mary Tyler Moore Show: One episode directed by Mary herself.
- CHiPs: episodes directed by Robert Pine and Larry Wilcox
- The Incredible Hulk: several episodes directed by Bill Bixby, plus two directed by Jack Colvin ("Goodbye Eddie Cain" and "East Winds").
- The FBI: Nine episodes between 1970 and 1974 directed by Philip Abbott.
- Diagnosis: Murder: One episode is directed by Barry Van Dyke.
- Dragnet: All episodes of the 1950's and 1960's versions were directed by Jack Webb.
- The Rookies: Two episodes directed by Georg Stanford Brown ("Cliffy" and "Someone Who Cares") and one by Gerald S. O'Loughlin ("A Time to Mourn").
- The Streets Of San Francisco: One episode directed by Michael Douglas ("Spooks for Sale").
- Kojak: several episodes directed by Telly Savalas.
- Starsky & Hutch: Both Paul Michael Glaser and David Soul have directed episodes (though unlike Glaser, Soul never pursued it further).
- Miami Vice: Both Don Johnson and Edward James Olmos have directed episodes.
- Randolph Mantooth directed 2 episodes of Emergency!. His character spent one of them in the hospital after being hit by a car in The Teaser, but he still had a lot of screen time. Kevin Tighe directed several episodes, writing another, and Michael Norell wrote 4.
- The Office (US): Paul Lieberstein directed seven episodes, B.J. Novak did five, Steve Carell, John Krasinski and Rainn Wilson all called the shots on three, and Mindy Kaling and Ed Helms... well, helmed two each. (Lieberstein, Novak, Carell and Kaling also wrote several episodes, and all but Carell directed one of their own scripts at least once.)
- Neil Patrick Harris directed an episode of How I Met Your Mother.
- Hugh Laurie directed the "Lockdown" episode of House, a Bottle Episode involving a (you guessed it) lockdown which neatly sticks characters in pairs in a single set for the entire episode, rotating through the pairs. So Laurie is free to be behind the camera for most of the episode and when he's in front of it it's in a tight character focused box.
- As if sweeping Best Actor Emmy awards wasn't enough to take up Bryan Cranston's time, he also directed the second and third season premieres, as well as the midseason premiere of the final season of Breaking Bad.
- Over 30 episodes of Married... with Children were directed by Amanda Bearse (Marcy), who directed numerous other shows as well.
- Here's a strange one: Dennis Dugan was brought in for four episodes near the end of Moonlighting, where he played the infamous "guy Maddie met on a train and immediately married for no apparent reason in order to provide a love triangle". This failed utterly and his character was written out and never seen again. However, Dugan himself stuck around to direct five unrelated episodes (and now Dugan is probably better known as a director than as an actor).
- This trope itself was parodied in the 'Shakespeare' episode of Moonlighting. In one scene, 'Petruchio' (David Addison) pulls out a list of demands for Kate (Maddy Hayes). He reads out 'Top billing, 10% pay rise and a chance to direct' and then says 'oops, wrong list of demands'.
- Matthew Gray Gubler (Dr. Spencer Reid) directed three episodes of Criminal Minds:
- "Mosley Lane" (5x16): This one was definitely a Tear Jerker episodes and, especially considering it involved heavy acting with teenagers and young children, was incredibly well executed. When you're able to get multiple really good performances out of kids, you're doing something right.
- "Lauren" (6x18): This one was Paget Brewster's (Emily Prentiss) "goodbye episode" (due to the fiasco called Executive Meddling during season six which AJ Cook was fired and Paget's role was reduced. Both returned for season seven) and she wanted Matthew to direct it. Another fantastic episode which involved AJ Cook (JJ) returning for this episode and Emily faking her death. Needless to say, it was a Tear Jerker.
- "Heathridge Manor" (7x19): Very intriguing episode which was described by Matthew as "eerily cerebral". This one was more about the psychological horror rather than the blood and guts.
- On another note, directing is actually Matthew's passion.
- Mad Men has two season-4 episodes directed by John Slattery (who plays Roger Sterling).
- Season 5 featured directorial efforts from John Slattery and Jon Hamm. Slattery's episode - "Signal 30" - was particularly acclaimed (in part due to a script penned by "Dog Day Afternoon" writer Frank Pierson) and was deemed by many critics as one of the season's best episodes.
- This allows for some pretty cool visual irony: the opening scene of Slattery's first episode involves Sterling and Don Draper discussing new regulations on cigarette advertisements over the phone with Lucky Strike; one of these requirements, as Sterling reads out, is avoiding using wide angles, low and other forms of Hitler Cam to make a smoker seem superhuman. At the same time, Don Draper is smoking, and Slattery makes sure to use...wide angles, low shots, and other forms of Hitler Cam to make Don seem...well...you know the rest.
- Lots of Mystery Science Theater 3000 episodes, though this likely has to do with the show being produced in Minnesota, away from major show business cities.
- Homicide: Life on the Street had multiple episodes directed by Clark Johnson who later directed episodes of The Shield and The Wire as well as feature films. Kyle Secor also directed one episode. Steve Buscemi, who appeared in a guest role in Season 3, got to direct at least one later episode, in which he did not appear.
- Shannen Doherty directed three episodes of Charmed, including the last one she ever appeared in.
- Ryan Stiles directed an episode of The Drew Carey Show. Humorously, The Tag at the end of the episode featured the cast members congratulating him before they shoot the final scene, in which the camera ends up zooming in on Ryan and only focusing on him while the other characters marvel at some wonderous shape-shifting object offscreen.
- Jensen Ackles directed the sixth season episode "Weekend at Bobby's", the seventh season episode "The Girl Next Door", and the eighth season episode "Heartache" of Supernatural.
- Patricia Wettig and Polly Draper are just about the only stars of Thirtysomething who didn't direct an episode; one episode even featured Elliot (Timothy Busfield) making his directorial debut on a commercial.
- Jennifer Love Hewitt helmed three episodes each of Ghost Whisperer and The Client List.
- Jennifer Garner directed one episode of Alias in season four (unlike her husband, this is her sole effort in the field to date).
- Tom Wopat, James Best, Sorrell Booke and Denver Pyle all directed multiple episodes of The Dukes of Hazzard (Uncle Jesse did the most, with 12); John Schneider only directed one, but it was the Series Finale and he also co-wrote it (Schneider was the show's only cast member to write an episode).
- Scott Bakula directed three episodes of Quantum Leap. Notably, he averted the trope in Star Trek: Enterprise. (Reportedly, he was asked due to his previous experience, but he opted not to.)
- 30 Rock star Tina Fey wrote and co-wrote several episodes, including the Pilot, but she never directed any. Steve Buscemi, who has a Recurring Character on the show, directed an episode in which his character did not appear.
- Trackdown. I Spy. The Greatest American Hero. What do these TV series have in common? They all starred Robert Culp, and he wrote and directed episodes for each of them. This was a factor in his not being cast as Koenig on Space:1999; he told Gerry Anderson that he wanted to write and direct, and was handed his hat as a result. In fact, the only cast member of any live-action Anderson show to have directed an episode is Robert Vaughn, who went behind the camera for The Protectors's only comic episode "It Could Be Practically Anywhere On The Island" (an episode widely regarded, including by Vaughn himself, as a mistake).
- Happens in-universe in Extras when the network hires an incompetent director for the Show Within a Show.
- Danny DeVito directed three episodes of Taxi.
- Bruce Campbell who played Autolycus in Xena: Warrior Princess and Hercules: The Legendary Journeys directed episodes of both series including the Series Finale of the latter.
- Malcolm Jamal-Warner directed several episodes of The Cosby Show.
- Home Improvement: Tim Allen and Patricia Richardson each directed one episode in season eight.
- David DeLuise, who plays the father on Wizards of Waverly Place, directed a number of episodes, one or two of which were written by TV son David Henrie.
- Boy Meets World: William Russ (Alan Matthews) directed several episodes in the later seasons.
- Jon Cryer directed three episodes of Two and a Half Men.
- Matthew Morrison directed the Glee episode "Extraordinary Merry Christmas"
- Phill Lewis (Mr. Moseby) of The Suite Life of Zack and Cody and its spinoff The Suite Life On Deck directed one episode of the original show and eight On Deck episodes (as well as episodes of A.N.T. Farm and Jessie, the latter of which has had at least one episode Directed by Cast Member Kevin Chamberlin).
- James Roday has directed several episodes of Psych and has actually earned co-producer status of the series.
- St. Elsewhere: Eric Laneuville (Luther Hawkins) directed 19 episodes. David Morse (Dr. Morrison) and William Daniels (Dr. Craig) also directed some episodes.
- ER had episodes directed by Laura Innes (12 total), Paul McCrane (9), and Anthony Edwards (4). Laura Innes and Paul McCrane even directed episodes after leaving the cast.
- Grey's Anatomy - Chandra Wilson 9 episodes) and Kevin McKidd (6 episodes). Debbie Allen, who played a recurring character, directed 6 episodes.
- Chad Lowe has directed eight episodes of Pretty Little Liars so far (appropriately enough given he plays Aria's dad, the second episode he helmed was called "Father Knows Best").
- Rick Green, who portrayed Bill on The Red Green Show, directed several episodes of it.
- JAG: David James Elliott directed three episodes; "Lifeline," "Take It Like A Man" and "There Goes The Neighborhood."
- Out of 111 episodes of Highway To Heaven, "The Secret," "The Good Doctor," "Summit," "Another Kind of War, Another Kind of Peace" and "Oh Lucky Man" are the only ones which weren't directed by either Michael Landon or Victor French.
- Several of the later episodes of I Dream of Jeannie were directed by Larry Hagman.
- Don Adams did this in seasons four and five of Get Smart.
- Jason Alexander directed the Seinfeld episode "The Good Samaritan."
- Yannick Bisson, the lead of Murdoch Mysteries, directed the episode "Buffalo Shuttle".
- Jerry Trainor directed two episodes of iCarly.
- Although Armando Iannuci directed the first three series of The Thick of It, the final series featured a number of guest directors including Chris Addison (who plays Ollie Reader). His episode was notable for the fact that his character spent most of the episode alone in a hospital bed.
- Stephen Moyer (Bill Compton) has directed several episodes of True Blood.
- A Mr. Show sketch in the finale was directed by David Cross, which probably explains why it stars Bob Odenkirk and Jay Johnston as the leads, as a two-man sketch would normally be played by Bob and David (Jay usually played supporting roles).
- So far Eric Allan Kramer's directed two episodes of Good Luck Charlie ("Wentz's Weather Girls" and "Rat-A-Teddy"), while Leigh-Allyn Baker has done one ("Charlie Whisperer").
- John Flansburgh directed a couple of videos for They Might Be Giants songs.
- "Weird Al" Yankovic directed a number of his own (and others') videos.
- Dave Grohl directed the videos for several Foo Fighters songs, including "Rope" and "All My Life."
- After everyone's dissatisfaction with the video to "One Step Closer", Linkin Park's Joe Hahn has been responsible for almost all of their videos.
- Jerry Casale of Devo directed or co-directed the majority of their videos, as well as their short film The Truth About De-Evolution and their "video albums" The Men Who Make the Music and We're All Devo. He also co-directed "Army Girls Gone Wild" by his own side project Jihad Jerry And The Evil-Doers, and directed the segment of the film Human Highway in which Devo are performing "Worried Man".
- Adam Jones of Tool is responsible for their music videos.
- Kate Bush directs most of her own later videos.