While most of us are not Hollywood executives, it is fun to dream up what we would do in that situation, just as sports fans play fantasy sports. The actor/director combinations on this list have all been chosen for their tonal similarities, either obvious or not. Some would challenge the individual to move outside their comfort zone, while some seem like such a logical fit despite having not yet worked together.
This list rules out actors and directors who have already worked together, as well as those who have upcoming projects (like Al Pacino and Martin Scorsese).
10. Johnny Depp – Darren Aronofsky
This one may not seem obvious at first but it could lead to a wildly fascinating film. Johnny Depp and Darren Aronofsky have both had recent failures, from Aronofsky’s disaster Noah (2014), and Johnny Depp’s everything (except Black Mass) from the last 5 years. However Black Mass (2015), though imperfect, demonstrates that Johnny Depp still possesses an incredible talent for building unique characters. Bringing Darren Aronofsky into the picture would mean Johnny Depp would get to explore a darker side we often forget he has.
Darren Aronofsky has demonstrated his ability to bring actors back into the spotlight with Mickey Rourke in The Wrestler (2008). While that isn’t to say Johnny Depp is in need of as much of a career resurgence as 2008 Mickey Rourke, he could certainly use an opportunity to create an interesting character outside of Tim Burton and Pirates of the Caribbean.
While any collaboration would be great, a film in the genre of Black Swan (2010) or The Wrestler (2008) would best showcase Johnny Depp’s talents. This sort of dark focus on a character’s drive would challenge Johnny Depp in a way he has not been challenged in recent years.
Hollywood is a very unforgiving industry and for Johnny Depp to continue to churn out films, he needs to demonstrate once again that he has the acting skill set that everyone respects him for. An Aronofsky film would set him up perfectly to do so.
9. Ewan McGregor – Wes Anderson
Ewan McGregor likes quirky more than people realize, and actors that come out of indie movies can never really leave that scene. Scarlett Johansson, for example, has done a string of Marvel movies to pay the bills, however also does films like Her and the highly divisive film Under the Skin.
Wes Anderson and Ewan McGregor would mesh together perfectly as McGregor’s off-beat sense of humor would work in the same way Ralph Fiennes or Jason Schwartzman fit perfectly into Wes Anderson’s universe. Wes Anderson has possibly the largest collection of interesting actors willing to work with him on a consistent basis so it would not be surprising to see Ewan McGregor to join this cast of characters.
While it would be great to see a Wes Anderson film staring Ewan McGregor, any sort of role within Wes Anderson’s universe would serve him well. Wes Anderson has a unique ability to consistently find memorable cameos for very successful actors, and cameos, as we know from Tom Cruise in Tropic Thunder, can have just as large of an impact on an actor’s career as a character with more screen time.
While one could argue that Wes Anderson does not need more actors to work with, Ewan McGregor would be an ideal addition to his eclectic and eccentric casts.
8. Edward Norton – David O Russell
Whether or not it helps the case, both Norton and O Russell have a reputation for their temper and controlling nature on sets. For this reason, it is possible that it would not be the most pleasant collaboration for the two of them, however unpleasant collaborations can sometimes lead to a person’s best work. There are many legendary collaborations, most notably Klaus Kinski and Werner Herzog in their many works, where the unpleasantness on set lead to better work from both the actor and director.
Edward Norton has not had a true leading role since The Incredible Hulk (2008), however still has a strong fan base, especially due to the cult and sleeper hit Fight Club (1999). David O Russell has been working since the ‘90s, however has experienced the most success in the past decade. With his name value being at an all-time high, he has free reigns to create and cast a film as he would like, which could include bringing back Edward Norton into the main stream.
Recently, Edward Norton has worked on Birdman (2015) and created a few small and heart-warming cameos in Wes Anderson films. His role in Birdman was small, however not insignificant and was a very successful project. Hollywood has a tendency to label certain actors as “box office poison” and not cast them in the future, however a director like David O Russell would have the freedom to bring back a mislabeled and hard-working actor like Edward Norton.
7. Amy Adams – Martin Scorsese
There are possible collaborations on this list that seem so logical, one might wonder why they have not already collaborated, while others such as this one, would challenge both the actor and director to produce possibly their best work. While this may be one of the less-likely collaborations, it does not reduce the potential power of this duo.
Amy Adams is quietly one of the most captivating actresses in Hollywood today, and may have become the Leonardo DiCaprio of not winning oscars, being consistently snubbed the past few years. Martin Scorsese, on the other hand, is very well established for his thoughtful yet excited film style.
The reason this film would be a stretch for Scorsese is because he has never directed a film with a female lead. In fact, most of the women in his movies play relatively minor roles. Seeing the way he was able to direct Jodie Foster in Taxi Driver (1976) and Margot Robbie in Wolf of Wall Street (2013) though, demonstrates that Scorsese certainly has the capacity.
Amy Adams has a certain restrained power in her acting that would lend itself perfectly to a Scorsese film. While she typically does not have the same sort of intense rants that Scorsese’s frequent collaborator DiCaprio has, Scorsese can also direct softer characters such as Jake LaMotta in Raging Bull (1980). Aside from the occasional outburst, this is the type of emotional character Amy Adams would be perfect for playing.
6. Kevin Spacey – Damien Chazelle
Damien Chazelle is perhaps the most promising young director in Hollywood today. At 31, he has directed two wildly different films that both sit on IMDB’s top 100 films of all time. While La La Land (2016) and Whiplash (2014) are tonally very different, the common connection between the two is jazz music, which Chazelle has cited as a huge influence.
Bring in Kevin Spacey and you have an extremely versatile actor who could fit into either of the two movies Chazelle has recently made. While Chazelle probably has many other facets that he has yet to explore as a filmmaker, Kevin Spacey would be able to adapt to whatever style of film Chazelle chose, as they both have similar potential ranges.
It would be nice to see Spacey collaborate with Chazelle in a film with a darker tone, as this is could produce both of their best work. Spacey could utilize both his broadway skill set and his intensity to create a character that has both a public and private persona. This would allow him to showcase both the song and dance Spacey used in Beyond The Sea (2004) and the darkness visible in his recent role in the Netflix series House of Cards.