The 15 greatest Alter egos in the History of Cinema

John Ford and John Wayne
One of the most successful association in movie History. The two John made their trademarks as Western filmmakers and a few War films. This is one of the reasons why they are on this prestigious list. And a film list is not a real film list if there are no mention of John Ford or John Wayne. Come on!

Films together: Stagecoach (1939) The Long Voyage Home (1940) They Were Expendable (1945) Fort Apache (1948) 3 Godfathers (1948) She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949) Rio Grande (1950) The Quiet Man (1952) The Searchers (1956) The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962)

Akira Kurosawa and Toshiro Mifune
Kurosawa and Mifune might have been the best ambassadors of their country in the world especially with the spread of the Samurai genre. Interesting fact: Kurosawa wanted to make Samurai films like John Ford did Westerns. If you ask me he made himself clear that he is the John Ford of Japan.

Films together: Drunken Angel (1948) Stray Dog (1949) Rashomon (1950) The Idiot (1951) The Seven Samurai (1954) Throne of Blood (1957) The Lower Depths (1957) The Hidden Fortress (1958) The Bad Sleep Well (1960) Yojimbo (1961) Sanjuro (1962) High and Low (1963) Red Beard (1965)

Michel Hazanavicius and Jean Dujardin
The most hip duo since the buzz around The Artist that began at the Cannes Film Festival last May and that culminated with the crowning of The Artist, Hazanavicius, and Dujardin at the Oscars. It is interesting to discover that it is far from being the first collaboration of the two Frenchmen.

Films together: OSS 117: Le Caire nid d'espions (2006) OSS 117: Rio ne répond plus (2009) The Artist (2011)

Federico Fellini and Marcello Mastroianni
This might not the most popular choice here but with only 8 1/2 Mastroianni impersonated the great Fellini and give one of the greatest performances ever shot on film.

Films together: La Dolce vita (1960) 8 1/2 (1963) City of Women (1980)

Tim Burton and Johnny Depp
The most obvious choice for contemporary film buffs. Those two have made it clear that they like to work together with their upcoming The Dark Shadows.

Films together: 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)

Steve McQueen and Michael Fassbender
I've just discovered Hunger lately and it is a revelation to me. Fassbender gives great performances one after another but his pairings with McQueen are tremendous.

Films together: Hunger (2008) Shame (2011)

Alfred Hitchcock and James Stewart
Of the many leading man Hitchcock had in his films, Stewart is most common man and easy to relate to actor that worked with him. I could have gone with Cary Grant but Stewart stars in my favorite Hitchcocks.

Films togeter: Rope (1948) Rear Window (1954) The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956) Vertigo (1958)

F.W. Murnau and Emil Jannings
German Cinema of the pre-Second World War would never have been the same without those two greats.

Films together: The Last Laugh (1924) Faust (1926) Tartuffe (1926)

Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro
Do I really need to explain myself here? There is no one single film they made together that I wouldn't watch right away. They embrace the definition of alter egos and I hope that some day they find some time to make another film together something like a last goodbye or even a documentary/interview with fragments of their films together, thoughts etc.

Films together: Mean Streets (1973) Taxi Driver (1976) New York, New York (1977) Raging Bull (1980) The King of Comedy (1983) Goodfellas (1990) Cape Fear (1991) Casino (1995)

John Huston and Humphrey Bogart
Bogie had such a presence in films that Huston exploited like no other director, except Howard Hawks and Nicholas Ray maybe, with his raw personality and created a kind of character just for Bogis with the creation of the Film Noir in The Maltese Falcon.

Films together: The Maltese Falcon (1941) The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948) Key Largo (1948) The African Queen (1951) Beat the Devil (1954)

David Fincher and Brad Pitt
Fincher is slowly becoming one of the most respected filmmakers today, their first two collaborations are already considered as classics for contemporary film enthusiasts.

Films together: Se7en (1995) Fight Club (1999) The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008)

Werner Herzog and Klaus Kinski
The most destructive duo of this list, just watch Herzog's documentary My Best Fiend about Kinski to fully understand their insane relationaship. It is almost unbelivable that they made more than one film together.

Films together: Aguirre: The Wrath of God (1972) Stroszek (1977)  Nosferatu the Vampyre (1979) Fitzcarraldo (1982) Cobra Verde (1987) My Best Fiend (1992)

Ingmar Bergman and Erland Josephson
With the recent lost of Josephson the World of Cinema lost one of the most talented actors. He worked on twelve films with Ingmar Bergman and always gave tremendous performances. Everytime I see Josephson on the screen I immediately connect him with Bergman. Especially with Scenes of A Marriage that contains many Bergman moments almost autobiographical.

Films together: It Rains on Our Love (1946) Brink of Life (1958) Hour of the Wolf (1968) The Passion of Anna (1969) Cries and Whispers (1972) Scenes of A Marriage (1973) Face to Face (1976) Autumn Sonata (1978) Fanny and Alexander (1982) After the Rehearsal (1984) In the Presence of A Clown (1997) Saraband (2003)

Jean Renoir and Jean Gabin
One of the greatest master of Cinema, Jean Renoir, collaborated with Jean Gabin on four films but they represented the Frenchmen for the World. La Grande Illusion and La Bête Humaine brought both to international recognition.

Films together: The Lower Depths (1936) La Grande Illusion (1937) La Bête Humaine (1938) French Cancan (1954)

Christopher Nolan and Christian Bale
Probably the most popular alter ego in the world of Cinema right now with The Dark Knight Rises coming in theatres this summer. All their films together have immense success at the Box Office as with the critics. Let,s hope they did as they usually do with the new Batman; a superb job.

Films together: Batman Begins (2005) The Prestige (2006) The Dark Knight (2008)


  1. Good list, but I should bring up Tony Leung and Wong-Kar Wai. They've worked together for years and will be in Wai's next picture.

    1. Thanks! I completely forgot about those two! They'll be in the part II.

    2. That was the one I was hoping to see here :)

      Also Masaki Kobayashi/Tatsuya Nakadai, and Sergio Leone/Clint Eastwood.

      and it would be interesting to try and come up with a list of Director/Actress pairings:

      Antonioni/Vitti, Godard/Karina, Bergman/Ullmann, Almodovar/Cruz

    3. You are right I am currently working on the second part of this list. Your suggestions are pretty good... The director actress thing made me thought of Sofia Coppola/Kirsten Dunst too.

  2. Great post. I have one clarifying question: By "alter egos" do you mean that the director had the actor playing a version of the director on screen, or do you mean these are great director/actor collaborations?

    1. By alter egos I originally meant the actor portraying the lead (director in the case of Fellini or Bergman it is pretty obvious) in many films of the same director. I took a larger definition than alter ego means but I think in this case it is more a question of acquaintance and great work of both parts... Thank you Chip!

  3. Um, this list has very little to do with what an alter ego means.

  4. Thank you Chip, Bonjour Tristesse, and Calum for commenting it is really appreciated. Fellow bloggers/commenters like you keep me going on this blog.


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