50 Greatest Movie Director & Star Collaborations

The partnerships that made cinema proud

Francis Ford Coppola & Robert Duvall

The Shared CV: Duvall's performance in Coppola's The Rain People was rewarded with roles in all of the director's 1970s films. All four just happen to be classics.

Defining Traits: The ever versatile Duvall moved from playing watchful Tom Hagen in the first two Godfather films, to the menacing Director in The Conversation , to blustery Colonel Kilgore in Apocalypse Now , but as the only actor to appear in all four, he's Coppola's badge of quality.

Going Solo: Coppola was never quite the same after Apocalypse Now , and Duvall turned down reprising Hagen in The Godfather Part 3 . By then, he'd won his Oscar (for Tender Mercies ) and become recognised as one of the best character actors around.

Joe Dante & Dick Miller

The Shared CV: Miller, veteran star of Roger Corman exploitation pics, got a new lease of life when fan Dante included him in his films, most famously as Mr Futterman in Gremlins .

Defining Traits: Miller's grizzled charm and enthusiastic performances lend suitably B-movie overtones to Dante's pop-culture riffs.

Going Solo: Dante's rediscovery of Miller has kept the actor busy in his old age, although his scenes as Monster Joe were deleted from Pulp Fiction . As for the director, The Hole marked an impressive comeback last year… but of course Miller showed up in a cameo.

James Cameron & Bill Paxton

The Shared CV: Cameron's brutal on-set perfectionism has upset many actors but Paxton has been man enough to work with the director five times, even willing to visit the wreck of the Titanic in Ghosts Of The Abyss .

Defining Traits: Ironically, Paxton has become Cameron's go-to guy for wimps and cowards, notably Aliens ' Hudson. "Game over, man!"

Going Solo: Paxton remains something of an unsung hero, although he won plaudits as a polygamist Mormon in Big Love . Cameron, having made the biggest movie ever with Paxton in Titanic , came back without Paxton and made an even bigger movie in Avatar .

Steven Spielberg & Richard Dreyfuss

The Shared CV: Spielberg directed Dreyfuss in only three roles - the same number as Tom Hanks or Tom Cruise - but, crucially, they include Jaws and Close Encounters , career-defining hits for both men.

Defining Traits: Look at pictures of the two - Dreyfuss was Spielberg's alter-ego, an Everygeek forced to confront the dangers of the ocean or the mysteries of space.

Going Solo: After winning the Best Actor Oscar for The Goodbye Girl , Dreyfuss blew everything on drugs before regrouping as a character actor in time for final Spielberg collaboration Always . We don't need to tell you how the 'Berg did, surely.

Michelangelo Antonioni & Monica Vitti

The Shared CV: Vitti was already a member of Antonioni's theatre group when he cast her in L'Avventura . She returned for his next three films, all major art-house hits, and reunited for 1980's The Mystery Of Oberwald .

Defining Traits: Vitti's beauty provided the counterpoint to Antonioni's bleak, ice-cool portraits of existential angst.

Going Solo: Antonioni set off on his travels to direct classics in Britain ( Blow-Up ) and America ( The Passenger ). Vitti's English-language period was nowhere near as successful: Modesty Blaise was poorly received.

Zhang Yimou & Gong Li

The Shared CV: Cinematographer Zhang discovered Gong, then still a drama student, while casting debut Red Sorghum ; its success led to a partnership that helped put Chinese cinema on the map.

Defining Traits: Zhang's melodramas of repressed passion and cruel retribution benefitted hugely from Gong's formidable presence as a woman refusing to be pigeonholed by Chinese tradition in films like Raise The Red Lantern .

Going Solo: Between falling out during 1995's Shanghai Triad and making up in 2006's The Curse Of The Golden Flower , Gong tried her luck in Hollywood ( Miami Vice , Memoirs Of A Geisha ) and Zhang specialised in art-house action ( Hero , House Of Flying Daggers ).

Judd Apatow & Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill, Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann

The Shared CV: Yeah, yeah, we know. That's Michael Cera in the picture, not Leslie Mann. But at least three of Rogen, Hill, Rudd and Mann have appeared in all of the of the director's films to date, never mind their contributions to the many more he's produced.

Defining Traits: Crudity tinged with bittersweet wisdom, plus a running gag explaining "how do I know you're gay."

Going Solo: Well, Apatow clearly can't do without his core cast - and, aside from Hill's Oscar-nominated turn in Moneyball , none of his stars have particularly bothered to leave.

Bob Rafelson & Jack Nicholson

The Shared CV: Rafelson cast his old friend Nicholson in Monkees movie Head ; when both became successful, they blazed an independent trail through Five Easy Pieces and The King Of Marvin Gardens .

Defining Traits: No director had more influence in positioning Nicholson as a movie star, mixing quiet watchfulness with abrasive, powerhouse sarcasm.

Going Solo: Nicholson became one of the great actors of American cinema; Rafelson struggled to recapture his early form, even in later reunions with Nicholson such as 1992's Man Trouble .

Federico Fellini & Marcello Mastroianni

The Shared CV: Both already stars in their respective fields, Fellini and Mastroianni forged a new kind of cinema in La Dolce Vita and , reuniting a further three times in the 1980s.

Defining Traits: A model of Italian cool, Mastroianni donned suits and shades to provide the chilled-out centre of Fellini's bravura images.

Going Solo: Fellini needed no encouragement to make increasingly outlandish cinematic fantasies, leaving Mastroianni to stick to his groove, twice winning Best Actor at Cannes.

Ridley Scott & Russell Crowe

The Shared CV: Ridley helped Russell to an Oscar for Gladiator , kickstarting a five-film partnership over the next decade.

Defining Traits: Put simply, neither suffers fools gladly so they enjoy fuss-free filmmaking together, whether a legendary figure like Robin Hood , or a bloke buying a house in Provence.

Going Solo: Intriguingly, both are revisiting 70s genre classics, with Crowe filming Man Of Steel and Scott having just released Prometheus , his first film without Russell since 2005.

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