5 actors showing their directorial debuts at TIFF 2018

By Jessica Pollack

Action! From Bradley Cooper to Jonah Hill, the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival will see a number of award-winning stars step behind the camera to show their directorial debuts. These exciting TIFF entries run the gamut from the musical to the coming of age, dramatic to teen-focussed, and fans of these actors can't wait to see how they helm their own projects. Here, we've rounded up the five celebrity-directed movies you should have on your radar...

RELATED: All the stars coming to TIFF in 2018

A Star Is Born

When the trailer for Bradley Cooper's directorial debut played at CinemaCon in April, critics were already throwing the word "Oscar" around. "First trailer for A Star Is Born gave me chills," one critic tweeted. "Lady Gaga’s Hollywood moment is far from over." With art imitating life, the actor cast the multitalented performer as a timid singer whose big break comes courtesy of troubled country superstar Jackson Maine, played by Bradley. A love story told in 1937, 1954 and 1976, the Silver Linings Playbook star lends his own style to the intimate tale that is sure to be a serious contender come Academy Awards season.


They say to write what you know, and Academy Award nominee Jonah Hill did just that for his directorial debut, a coming-of-age love letter to the '90s skate culture in which he grew up. It follows 13-year-old Stevie, played by The Killing of a Sacred Deer's Sunny Suljic, as he finds new friendships and reckless experiences among a group of older skaters in working-class Los Angeles. The soundtrack is a heady blend of rock and rap from the eponymous era and Sunny's co-stars include Katherine Waterston (Inherent Vice) and Oscar nominee Lucas Hedges (Manchester by the Sea, Lady Bird).


The stunning post-war settings and beautiful cinematography in Paul Dano's directorial debut make the film's searing family tension all the more palpable. Carey Mulligan and Jake Gyllenhaal play a Montana couple whose marriage is dissolving as wildfires rage nearby and their teenage son, played by Ed Oxenbould (Paper Planes), tries to make sense of it all. The Okja star adapted the 1990 novel of the same name alongside his real-life love, Zoe Kazan, and it's already garnering lots of buzz for its two seasoned stars.


Leave it to Inglorious Basterds star Mélanie Laurent to give a gritty crime drama written by True Detective creator Nic Pizzolatto a dose of French refinement. Maleficent's Elle Fanning takes on the role of a young prostitute who finds herself and her younger sister on the run with an injured and terminally ill ex-con, played by Ben Foster (Hell or High Water). While the French filmmaker is no novice behind the camera, this is her English-language debut.

Teen Spirit

This world premiere comes courtesy of Max Minghella, best known for playing Nick in The Handmaid's Tale. Another coming-of-age story in this year's TIFF roster, the actor tells the tale of a seventeen-year-old girl who dreams of rising above her mundane Isle of Wight existence. It's another starring role for Elle Fanning, whose Violet joins forces with former opera singer Vlad (Zlatko Buric) to take her natural singing talent to a competition show called Teen Spirit and a father-daughter kind of bond forms along the way.

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