Paul Newman, Rachel, Rachel (1968): Even in his younger days, Newman wasn’t only the cocksure badass of Hud and The Hustler; his range spanned from heavy Tennessee Williams to traditional star fluff. Still, it must have been a mild shock when his name appeared in the director’s credit of this sensitive drama, starring wife Joanne Woodward as a spinster schoolteacher. Newman was even nominated for a Golden Globe, but that only got him back into the director’s chair thrice more, once for the even more unlikely adaptation of The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds.
Clint Eastwood, Breezy (1973): Eastwood has gone to great lengths, with the 30-plus films he’s directed, to prove he’s more than Dirty Harry; he even made a decent film out of the worst novel ever written (The Bridges of Madison County). Indeed, his third film is a gentle—and shockingly charming—May-December romance between cranky William Holden and frequently naked hippie Kay Lenz, whose name is—yes—Breezy.
Sylvester Stallone, Staying Alive (1983): In between directing Rocky III and Rocky IV, Stallone mysteriously wound up helming the bizarre sequel to Saturday Night Fever, in which Travolta’s Tony Manero is now angling for Broadway. Where the Rockys blend the macho with the emotional, this luxuriates over unnaturally ripped flesh, in addition to running through a silly dance melodrama.
Arnold Schwarzenegger, Christmas in Connecticut (1992): The cast of The Expendables are all secret pussies. The sole directorial outing of the Terminator is, unaccountably, a TV remake of the 1945 Barbara Stanwyck romance, starring Dyan Cannon and Kris Kristofferson. A friend said he would pay top dollar to watch set footage of Schwarzenegger directing this.
Bill Duke, Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit (1993): An imposing, rotund, taciturn badass who rounds out the Predator lineup (plus Commando and The Limey), Duke is also a prolific director responsible for the gritty dramas A Rage in Harlem and Deep Cover. He also made the sequel to Sister Act.
Forest Whitaker, Waiting to Exhale (1995): Whitaker made Waiting to Exhale. He also made Hope Floats . He also made the Katie Holmes- starring First Daughter. No, there aren’t two different Forest Whitakers. Ghost Dog has weird taste.