In the history of Hollywood, there have been plenty of hyphenates. Actress-model, writer-director, rapper-actor, and whatever Jennifer Lopez wants to call herself. And the film industry has seen its fair share of triple- and quadruple-threats, too. One of the most natural double-duty progressions has been the actor-writer—that rare breed of thespian who is bold enough to write his or her own material, and talented enough to pull it off.
Actor-writers are, of course, not a newfangled breed of moviemaker. One need only look back on the careers of Charlie Chaplin, Orson Welles, and John Cassavetes to know that they’ve been in the creative mix since the advent of cinema. But their ranks have been expanding in recent years, as George Clooney’s The Monuments Men attests. And who are today’s most talented of the bunch?
In order to determine that, we set a few criteria: the actor-writer must be currently active, must have written at least one feature-length screenplay, and he or she must be talented enough in both disciplines that each title—actor and writer—could stand on its own (sorry, Quentin Tarantino). Here are our picks for The 30 Best Actor-Writers.