September 16, 2010 / 10:07 PM / in 7 years

Actors turned movie directors seek success in Toronto

TORONTO (Reuters) - They may already have a bunch of trophies at home, but a generation of actors turned directors are seeking success behind the camera at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival.

At least six actors, including Oscar winner Philip Seymour Hoffman, have showed off their directing skills here, hoping for the kind of acclaim enjoyed by the likes of Clint Eastwood, Woody Allen, and Robert Redford.

Some, like Casey Affleck and “Capote” star Seymour Hoffman, were first-time directors, while seasoned filmmakers Ben Affleck and Emilio Estevez came to Toronto with second or third efforts that also showcased their acting talents.

The Toronto festival has nourished a reputation for solid test audiences and a launching pad for Academy Award hopefuls.

“I think you’ve got a generation of actors who have seen some of their peers go behind the camera, become directors and establish quite substantial and respected careers,” said Cameron Bailey, co-director of the Toronto festival

“I think if you’re on sets all the time and you’re seeing how films are made, it’s probably pretty natural to want to make at least one film and if that does well you may want to make more.”

Estevez, whose 2006 movie “Bobby” won a Golden Globe nomination, presented “The Way”, in which he also appears with his actor father, Martin Sheen.

“With actors directing, they have the language and they have the dialogue,” Estevez said. “So many directors I’ve worked with don’t know how to talk to the actors, they’re terrified of them.”

Ben Affleck, who won an Oscar for his “Good Will Hunting” screenplay with Matt Damon in 1998, said there was room for both acting and directing in his career.

Affleck brought his well-received heist movie “The Town” to Toronto after a showing at the Venice Film Festival

“I don’t feel that they’re separate (careers). I feel that they’re compatible. With a little luck, I’ll get to keep doing both,” Affleck told reporters.

John Turturro presented “Passione”, Seymour Hoffman cast himself in his debut romantic comedy “Jack Goes Boating”, and former “Friends” star David Schwimmer promoted his second feature film, the dark drama “Trust”.

Schwimmer, who won a Screen Actors Guild award for his work on “Friends”, said he loved the collaborative nature of directing. “I find it a really challenging and intellectual process. Acting and being a hired gun...it’s a very lonely and isolated experience,” Schwimmer told Reuters.

One of the most talked about directorial debuts in Venice and Toronto has come from Casey Affleck, 35, with his documentary “I‘m Still Here” about actor Joaquin Phoenix’s shambolic attempts to become a hip hop star.

Affleck was Oscar-nominated for his turn in the 2007 movie “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford”. But although it’s still unclear whether “I‘m Still Here” is an elaborate hoax, the younger brother of Ben Affleck has won critical praise for his directing skills.

Additional reporting by Cameron French and Solarina Ho; Editing by Jill Serjeant

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