7 greatest actor-director collaborations in sci-fi movies and TV

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Marc Bernardin
Dec 14, 2012

When the right actor and the right director get together, that's when the magic happens. And luckily for us, it can happen more than once. These incredibly fruitful collaborations, which produced classic films such as Star Wars, Aliens, Serenity and Escape From New York, prove that, sometimes, two great tastes do taste great together.


COLLABORATIONS: Edward Scissorhands (1990), Ed Wood (1994), Sleepy Hollow (1999), Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005), Corpse Bride (2005), Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007), Alice in Wonderland (2010)

Few actors have be able to express their director's inner—and outer—id as Depp has with Burton. The soft speech, the wild hair, the careful mannerisms, the bursting creativity—all are hallmarks of Burton's that have ended up in Depp's characterizations. And the sense of whimsy they both share always ends up on the screen.

UP NEXT: A rumored adaptation of vampire soap Dark Shadows.


COLLABORATIONS: Cronos (1993), Blade II (2002), Hellboy (2004), Hellboy II: The Golden Army (2008)

Del Toro has always identified with the monsters in his movies, or rather, the humanity within the monsters. And not to cast any aspersions as to Perlman's handsomeness or anything—but let's be frank, he's not a conventional-looking movie star. So it's no wonder Del Toro likes to train his camera on Perlman.

UP NEXT: At the Mountains of Madness, perhaps Hellboy III


COLLABORATIONS: American Graffiti (1973), Star Wars: Episodes IV-VI (1977-1983), the Indiana Jones quartet (1981-2008)

After Ford built what one has to assume were a handsome set of cabinets for Lucas, the writer-director hired the carpenter for a small role in Lucas' paean to small-town car culture, American Graffiti. Lucas would then cast Ford as the guy who reads lines opposite the real actors while Lucas was casting Star Wars—until Ford wore Lucas down and nabbed the role of Han Solo. Since then, the two have collaborated on two of the most lucrative series in Hollywood history.

UP NEXT: An oft-rumored Indy 5: Indiana Jones and the We're Not Really Too Old For This S%&!


COLLABORATIONS: Terminator (1984), Aliens (1986), True Lies (1994), Titanic (1997), Ghosts of the Abyss (2003)

From a tiny role as a punk forced to give Arnold Schwarzenegger his clothes in the first Terminator, right through to the deep-sea treasure hunter looking for the Heart of the Ocean in Titanic, Cameron has employed Paxton's Texan charm to bring life to colorful supporting characters. They get along so well that Cameron invited Paxton along for the series of dives to the Titanic wreckage that was captured in the 2003 documentary Ghosts of the Abyss.

UP NEXT: Unknown


COLLABORATIONS: The Evil Dead (1981), Crimewave (1985), Evil Dead 2 (1987), Army of Darkness (1992), the Spider-Man trilogy (2002-2007)

Ever since they made their first feature together, 1981's The Evil Dead, the childhood friends have maintained their working relationship, with Campbell appearing in almost every Raimi production, in roles ranging from starring to cameo. And when Raimi ventured into TV, he took Campbell with him, giving him a plum supporting role in Hercules: The Legendary Adventures and Xena: Warrior Princess, while making him the star of Jack of All Trades. Campbell's lantern jaw, capacity to absorb injury and a shared love for The Three Stooges made him the perfect Raimi leading man.

UP NEXT: Unknown


COLLABORATIONS: Firefly (2003-2004), Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997-2003), Serenity (2005), Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog (2008)

Whedon has said that Fillion is the closest thing this generation has to Harrison Ford: an actor who can do action and comedy, be a romantic lead as well as a dramatic presence. And, given the many shades Whedon's work can have—swinging from arch melodrama to out-and-out humor to musical farce to sheer tragedy—he needs a leading man equally versatile.

UP NEXT: Dr. Horrible 2, if the universe is a just and fair place.


COLLABORATIONS: Elvis (1979), Escape From New York (1981), The Thing (1982), Big Trouble in Little China (1986), Escape from L.A. (1996)

Carpenter discovered Russell's swagger on the Elvis TV movie and put that swagger to good use in a trio of genre classics. Escape From New York and Big Trouble in Little China saw Russell and Carpenter paying homage to two western heroes: the taciturn Clint Eastwood for Escape and the gregarious John Wayne for Big Trouble. And the third of that trio, The Thing, is an unrivaled sci-fi horror classic.

UP NEXT: Unknown