10 Actor-Director Collaborations We Would Like To See Happen

5. Michael Shannon – Paul Thomas Anderson

Michael Shannon may be one of the lesser known actors on this list, but he is not any less fascinating. The 42-year-old actor has been working in Hollywood for years but seems to be only hitting his stride recently, with a string of powerful starring and supporting roles (including an Oscar nomination for his role in Nocturnal Animals in 2016.

It is time to give a proven method actor like Michael Shannon his very own movie, and Paul Thomas Anderson would perfectly match his intensity. Paul Thomas Anderson has worked with many leading men, however the collaborator that most reminds me of Michael Shannon is Joaquin Phoenix.

Both actors are riveting not as much in their good looks as their captivating faces. While Paul Thomas Anderson’s film The Master (2012) may have suffered simply because it followed the widely praised There Will Be Blood (2007), the overall quality is not diminished and gives a unique portrayal of the group-think that can occur in a cult.

This is the type of film that Michael Shannon would be perfectly equipped to work in. He would be perfect for PT Anderson’s favorite theme of a character’s descent into madness. A pure Michael Shannon film is long overdue and he could do much worse than having Paul Thomas Anderson at the helm.


4. Leonardo DiCaprio – Coen Brothers

Leonardo DiCaprio has worked with some of the greatest directors of all time and working today, including Scorsese, Spielberg, Nolan, Cameron, and Tarantino, and the well established Coen Brothers would be a nice addition.

This could be a departure from his most frequent roles that chronicle years of an extravagant lifestyle that eventually catches up to him (Wolf of Wall Street, Catch Me If You Can, The Aviator), however if his cameo in Django Unchained proved that he can do much more than play the leading man.

This being said, the Coen Brothers have a very unique way of portraying working class American life that is unfamiliar to DiCaprio. While he has played hero, villain, love interest, and gifted, there is one thing he hasn’t played; ordinary.

DiCaprio has acted in many staring roles of different caliber, however aside from Revolutionary Road, has only played characters that are gifted or extraordinary in some way. This is why a film in the vein of No Country for Old Men, or even a lighter work such as Raising Arizona would be ideal for DiCaprio. This would challenge him to have possibly a more restrained role, however could very well lead to another Oscar for the iconic actor.


3. Jennifer Lawrence – David Fincher

David Fincher is known for his dark and shocking films. While we have yet to see what Jennifer Lawrence is going to do with her upcoming Darren Aronofsky project, we do know that she is perfectly capable of being on David Fincher’s level. This is especially exhibited in her acting in Silver Linings Playbook (2012) and her earlier role in Winter’s Bone (2010).

David Fincher is especially good at neo-noir films such as Gone Girl (2014) and Zodiac (2007). Interestingly enough, the film-noir mold of a male lead and a femme fatale has not yet been successfully broken. Jennifer Lawrence would be able to handle a female-lead film noir movie perfectly, and would be able to play a character emotionally similar to Ben Affleck’s character in Gone Girl.

A female film noir movie would certainly have to make some deviations from the genre, however David Fincher’s experience in the established genre means he would know which deviations are essential. Jennifer Lawrence is a powerful actress, yet has a certain delicateness that traditional film noir actors (like Humphrey Bogart, or Freddy MacMurry) were not able to achieve. Hollywood loves films that take a new angle on a previous model (La La Land, for example) and a Jennifer Lawrence film noir mystery with David Fincher would be just that.


2. Daniel Day-Lewis – Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu

best daniel day-lewis movies

Daniel Day-Lewis may be the greatest method actor of his generation, and certainly has his place high on the all-time list. Alejandro Gonzales Inarritu in his last two films has created two Oscar-worthy performances for his leading men. He has demonstrated his ability to focus on character regardless of how long or tedious the process.

There is possibly no better actor at absorbing himself completely into a character than Daniel Day-Lewis. He has become infamous for spending months if not years working out characters and staying entirely in character during the production of the film.

While this would be daunting for some directors, Inarritu is perfectly equipped to handle this, especially having previously worked with DiCaprio on The Revenant. Inarritu would be able to work with Day-Lewis to create a character worthy of his repertoire.

As both the actor and director have a broad range of talents, it is nearly impossible to speculate on exactly what this collaboration would entail, Day-Lewis naturally excels in period pieces and biopics, which Inarritu also enjoys. It would be interesting to see Inarritu’s take on a film like There Will Be Blood (2007) as he enjoys a similar tone to Paul Thomas Anderson, however achieves it through very different techniques.


1. Tilda Swinton – Quentin Tarantino

This would be a dream come true for everyone involved. Quentin Tarantino showed in the Kill Bill series that he can create extremely strong female characters, and Tilda Swinton is both strong and iconic.

Whether she is acting in her own film like Orlando (1992), or the over-hyped Chronicles of Narnia series, Swinton puts all she has into each one of her roles, making her perfectly capable to cope with and exceed the expectations of Quentin Tarantino. Tarantino is one of the most unique directors working today, and with his plan to only make two more films (one of which being the third installment of the Kill Bill series) there is a limited window for him to make a film with Tilda Swinton.

Swinton is an extremely versatile actress, so any sort of role Tarantino could choose to write for her would be a success. As Kill Bill: Vol 3 is not yet in production, it would be great to see Tilda Swinton join this franchise.

Aside from that film, she would fit very well into a role similar to Uma Thurman in Pulp Fiction (1994) or Jennifer Jason Leigh in The Hateful Eight (2015) as both actresses play strong, underestimated, and pivotal characters. There is also a rumor that Tilda Swinton and Quentin Tarantino have dated, which would hopefully make the collaboration more, and not less, likely.

Author Bio: Ethan Colburn, founder of cineflek.com, is currently a sophomore at the University of Puget Sound. While a student he is also an avid amateur film reviewer who looks for the art and technicality of every film.