10 Actors Who Found Success as Screenwriters

If you're an actor who's frustrated with what Hollywood gives you, there's always one good backup plan: Write your own stuff! Lately, more and more actors have begun writing scripts on the side, and today's trades had two such stories. What better time for Movieline to look at 10 actors who've managed some notable screenwriting success?


Charlie Hunnam

Hunnam may be a screenwriting neophyte, but at least he's been adjacent to writing royalty -- he used to be married to actress Katharine Towne, whose father Robert wrote Chinatown, Shampoo, and The Last Detail. Now, Hunnam (Sons of Anarchy, Queer as Folk UK) is striking out with his own script Vlad, which will be directed by Anthony Mandler and produced by Brad Pitt. Whether Hunnam will star as the young Dracula remains to be seen.


Madeleine Stowe

For years, Hollywood tended to think of Madeleine Stowe (Last of the Mohicans, Blink) as a professional love interest, and that's why she and actor-husband Brian Benben slapped the pseudonym "O.C. Humphrey" on their 2003 script Unbound Captives. The screenplay was a sensation, with Fox offering Stowe millions and a Ridley Scott/Russell Crowe talent package, but Stowe declined when the studio wouldn't cast her as the female lead. Six years later, Stowe is instead gearing up to direct the film, with Rachel Weisz, Hugh Jackman, and Robert Pattinson starring.


Danny Strong

You may know Danny Strong as Buffy the Vampire Slayer's hapless Jonathan (or as the Yale Daily News editor on Gilmore Girls), but the frequent TV actor has forged a second career for himself as a screenwriter. Strong scripted Jay Roach's Recount, an HBO film about the 2000 presidential election, and is currently writing The Crusaders for director Gary Ross and star Tobey Maguire.

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  • The Winchester says:

    How can you leave off Stallone? Not only did he write himself that inspiring movie (that spawned 5 more movies over a span of 30 years), he also co-wrote Rambo, one of the greatest motion pictures of all time. Mostly because it involves a scene where Rambo builds his own knife while talking about how much God hates him. And yet, no awards for that brilliant piece of writing, while "It's not your fault" repeated 20 times equals Oscar gold. That, my friends, is writing.

  • SunnydaZe says:

    How can you leave off William Goldman? Not only did he not write "Good Will Hunting" but he didn't write "Good Will Hunting".

  • Krugmanic Depressive says:

    How can you leave off Owen Wilson? The Stallion was Wes Anderson's better half. Baumbach can suck it.

  • Quirky- says:

    Just to point out the bleeding obvious omission, Kyle: Sofia Coppola makes a better writer/director than she does a Corleone, no? (Unless, of course, we're talking Parts I & II where she has no lines. That shit I can live with)
    Oh, and to counter-balance that hint of snark re: Affleck & Damon...Damon's gone on to have a mega-successful acting career since Good Will Hunting, while Affleck struggled to have any credibility after that JLo debacle -- going on to co-adapt two screenplays, so let's not go crazy praising his writing abilities. 😛

  • MCU says:

    We have a winner!

  • pete says:

    Clark Gregg-actor(New adventures of old christine)Also wrote What LIES Beneath-a Blockbuster!!!!

  • Randhir Soondarsingh says:

    Grant Heslov starred in True Lies, Congo, Black Sheep and The Birdcage but now he writes Good Night and Good Luck and directed The Men Who Stare at Goats.

  • C. King says:

    Not forgetting David Hayter??? He started out as an actor and is still an accomplished voice actor. He wrote the screenplays for X-Men, The Scorpion King, X-Men 2 and Watchmen

  • ChrisC says:

    how can you not put Owen Wilson.
    the thing thats ironic is that with most of the movies that he's acting on(drillbit taylor, starsky and hutch etc...), you'd think that Owen Wilson is a dumb blond guy. yet, when you look at the films that he Co-wrote with Wes Anderson, he writes better movies than his best films as an actor. 'Tenenbaums' and 'Rushmore' is definetly better than 'Wedding Crashers'.

  • RTM says:

    You left out Emma Thompson who won an Oscar for Best Screenplay for Sense & Sensibility. She also wrote Nanny McPhee and will pen the script for My Fair Lady remake.

  • RTM says:

    Never mind my last comment, for some strange reason I completely missed Emma Thompson! 🙂 So glad to see her on your list.

  • Grant says:

    Good Night and Good Luck maybe, but Goats is hardly a movie by any standard--good job bringing that up Randhir; way to put salt on a wound.

  • Tom Daylight says:

    That's a very loose definition of "success". From the title I presumed you meant actors such as Julian Fellowes who have won awards for their screenplays. (Indeed I think Danny Strong won one.)

  • Irving 143 says:

    Carrie Fisher has done pretty well as a screenwriter/script doctor.

  • GMJ says:

    No Billy Bob Thornton?

  • Jennifer Davis says:

    Yes, I second Carrie Fisher. She should've made the list for certain.

  • Richard Levine says:

    No Roberto Benigni or Ben Stiller?

  • Stallone and Stiller should be here...the article was/is titled TEN actors, there was only nine when I read it??? Can't count? Glad whoever made this list isn't a screenwriter...