Actors comfy in the director's chair

Ben Affleck is shown in a scene from Argo. (Handout)

Ben Affleck is shown in a scene from Argo. (Handout)

MICHAEL RECHTSHAFFEN, Special to QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:40 PM ET

HOLLYWOOD -- There's an old industry joke about Mother Teresa going up to the pearly gates and meeting God.

"Mother Teresa, you have devoted your entire life to serving others -- feeding and sheltering the hungry and homeless," says God. "Now it's your turn. Is there anything left undone that you still wish to accomplish?"

"Well, since you're asking," replies Mother Teresa. "What I really want to do is direct."

Just as it seems as if every waiter, messenger and cab driver in this town carries around a screenplay in their back pocket, most actors, no matter how many kudos they've won or how much money their movies have made, won't be truly happy unless they get to literally call the shots.

From Clint Eastwood and Robert Redford to George Clooney and Jon Favreau, the list of successful actors-turned-directors continues to expand with each coming awards season -- and this one's no exception.

The screening that had all of the Telluride International Film Festival abuzz last Labour Day weekend?

Argo, an Oscar contender of a political thriller directed by Ben Affleck, which also played TIFF this weekend.

That film, set during the Iran hostage crisis and starring Affleck along with Bryan Cranston, Alan Arkin and John Goodman, is Affleck's third effort as a director -- after Gone Baby Gone and The Town -- and, by unanimous early account, his most accomplished to date.

Having successfully made the transition from respected actress to acclaimed filmmaker with Away from Her and Take This Waltz, Sarah Polley has been garnering some of her best reviews yet with Stories We Tell.

A documentary featuring members of her family and the revelation of a long-held secret, the film played to terrific response in Venice and Telluride ahead of its Toronto arrival.

Also playing the Toronto fest is Jayne Mansfield's Car, directed by and starring Billy Bob Thornton, along with Robert Duvall and Kevin Bacon.

The period piece, which examines the culture clash between an American and a British family circa 1969 Alabama, is Thornton's fourth behind-the-camera feature since making his memorable debut with 1996's Sling Blade.

Speaking of British, 75-year-old Dustin Hoffman marks his first time wearing a director's cap with Quartet, a UK production about a group of retired opera singers that's being given its world premiere at TIFF.

Considering his English cast is headed by Maggie Smith, it would seem to be a natural for the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel crowd.

Meanwhile, old pro Robert Redford isn't planning to rest on his laurels anytime soon.

He both directed and stars (opposite Shia LaBeouf) in the anticipated political thriller The Company You Keep, screening at Toronto this weekend.

It's the 76-year-old hyphenate's ninth directorial effort in a successful second career that started with the Oscar winning Ordinary People in 1980.

Just some of the illustrious company that 31-year-old Ryan Gosling will be joining when he makes his directorial debut next spring in the surreal drama How to Catch a Monster, about a single mother (Mad Men's Christina Hendricks) whose teenage son discovers a mysterious underwater town.

Here's hoping it turns out to be more The Abyss than Waterworld.


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