5 Underrated Actor-Director Duos


There's been a whole load of actors and directors partnering up throughout cinema's history. Actors appearing in a high percentage of a director's work, whose visions work so well together that they just can't be without one another.


Some duos are praised like there's no tomorrow, some actors shouldn't really be attributed to just one director and some duos just don't get enough credit.


Instead of discussing how great it is when Samuel L. Jackson pops up in a Tarantino movie or when Robert De Niro returns for another Scorcese film, I want to shine a light on five duos that aren't given enough credit where it's due. I'm not saying these aren't well known or renowned, but they could be rated higher in the realm of actor-director collaboration. Who are your favourite actor-director duos? Now is the time to think on it.



1 - Song Kang-Ho & Bong Joon-Ho (57%)


Song Kang-Ho in Bong Joon-Ho's Parasite

That percentage doesn't make it seem like much of a collaboration, but with Song appearing in four of Bong's best feature films their partnership is special. Song's 'typical everyman' approach to acting goes well with Bong's critical filmmaking and it's in the Best-Picture winning Parasite where their work really shines.


In Bong's fascination with class structure, Song Kang-Ho plays the quintessential everyday father, thematically bouncing off Bong's screenplay until something goes awry and his character must change, delivering wisdom and enlightenment. Here's hoping that Bong Joon-Ho continues his collaboration with this fantastic actor and they can bring more of their unpredictability to an often predictable film industry.


Parasite is available to stream on Amazon Prime Video



2 - Anya Taylor-Joy & Robert Eggers (67%)


Anya Taylor-Joy in Robert Eggers' The VVitch

This is a duo where their time together hasn't exactly been extensive, so I won't attribute too much praise to it yet. But theirs is a particularly promising collaboration and I think it's time to start considering them as such.


Her performance in The VVitch was astounding, her qualities complimenting the filmmaker's eerie style so much so that they're reuniting for 2021's The Northman. Having both gone away to do something altogether different since, they've openly admitted to how much they've truly enjoyed working together. I can imagine them having an extensive and audience-horrifying career by eachothers' sides.


The VVitch is available to rent on Amazon



3 - Michael Caine & Christopher Nolan (73%)

Michael Caine as a father-in-law in Christopher Nolan's Inception

Appearing in eight out of Christopher Nolan's eleven mind-bending feature films, Michael Caine has constantly portrayed the voice of reason for surrounding characters. No more so than in Nolan's Dark Knight Trilogy as a gracious Alfred Pennyworth. His character is a source of constant advice to which Christian Bale's Batman can turn and the audience can find thematic tension.


Nolan has gone as far as saying that Caine has been the "lucky charm" throughout his filmmaking career. When John David Washington's TENET protagonist turns to say "Goodbye Sir Michael" in a scene especially curated for Caine, it's sad to think that we may never see him in a Nolan film again. Let's hope it's not goodbye forever.


The Dark Knight Trilogy is available to stream on Sky



4 - Colin Farrell & Martin McDonagh (75%)


Brendan Gleeson and Colin Farrell in Martin McDonagh's In Bruges

Martin McDonagh is a personal favourite of mine and a lot of that is down to his work with Colin Farrell in both Seven Psychopaths and In Bruges. Of three feature films, Farrell appears in two. With another one on the horizon in the form of The Banshees of Inisheer, they'll be reuniting again with his other long-time collaborator - Brendon Gleeson.


Colin Farell has proven to be a master of acting tragicomedy both with Martin McDonagh and Yorgos Lanthimos (The Lobster). But his collaboration with McDonagh is one where he can lean on the physicality of McDonagh's impulsive dark comedy. Their films are highly contemplative, surrounding heavy moral themes with a slight sense of humour as though McDonagh is writing just for Farrell. It's always a fine line between melancholy and madness, the best of this actor's career and vica-versa.


In Bruges is available to rent on Amazon



5 - Owen Wilson & Wes Anderson (80%)


Owen Wilson in Wes Anderson's The Darjeeling Limited

It's often said that Bill Murray's collaborations with this eccentric American filmmaker are both more numerous and more convincing than that of Wilson. Without Owen Wilson, however, it's fair to say that Wes Anderson wouldn't be the director he is today.


Owen Wilson isn't only an actor but a founding father of Wes Anderson's filmmaking style. Having been roomates at university and written together in their earlier influential filmmaking years, Wilson has featured in all but one of Anderson's feature films, including upcoming The French Dispatch. They're a well-known duo that is often forgotten about when compared to Anderson's highly recognisable style and his numerous other long-time collaborators too.


The Royal Tenenbaums is available to stream on Sky