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6 Film Composers Who Have Also Directed Movies

Werewolf by Night has become one of the most highly anticipated MCU projects seemingly out of nowhere, as critics are calling it a unique and welcome entry in the franchise. The one-off Disney+ special is a horror about the titular character, and it comes from a first-time director, but Michael Giacchino has been known in Hollywood for decades.


Giacchino is a popular film composer who has made scores for every major franchise, whether it’s Star Wars, the MCU, or the DCEU. But Giacchino isn’t the first composer who has made the jump into directing. Whether it’s a jack-of-all-trades western actor, an eerie horror composer whose music is more iconic than his movies, or a one-man film crew with no other choice but to compose his scores, these filmmakers are true auteurs.

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Clint Eastwood

Clint Eastwood is a cinematic auteur in every sense of the word, as he has been active in the movie industry for over 60 years, whether it’s being in the lead role, directing award-winning dramas, or even composing. The celebrated filmmaker was certainly an actor and even director before he started composing, but he composed some of his very best films.

2003’s crime drama Mystic River and 2004’s emotionally exhausting boxing movie Million Dollar Baby are his two most accomplished films when it comes to directing, but he also composed them. The orchestra-centric compositions are just as breathtaking as the movies, but that’s one category in which Eastwood was snubbed at the Academy Awards.

Michael Giacchino

Giacchino has so many great movie scores under his belt, and while he hasn’t quite reached the classic status of John Williams or Hans Zimmer, he’s certainly just as prolific. The composer has scored Pixar movies, action blockbusters, and Will Ferrell comedies, and sometimes all in the same year.

In 2009 alone, Giacchino scored Star Trek, Up, and Land of the Lost. And now, after just scoring the phenomenal The Batman, Giacchino directed the new one-off MCU special, Werewolf by Night. Given the special’s rave reviews with many calling it the best MCU Disney+ release, it might be the first of many projects Giacchino works on with Marvel in a capacity outside of composing.

Robert Rodriguez

Robert Rodriguez is often referred to as the “one-man film crew,” as he has been known to do absolutely everything himself, from writing the screenplay, shooting the movie, editing it, and scoring it. Given that his directorial debut, El Mariachi, had a budget of just $7000 (via The Numbers), Rodriguez almost had no choice but to score the movie himself.

His guitar playing was on show just as much as his kinetic filmmaking. Rodriguez stretching himself so thin hasn’t always worked for the best, but he has just as many hits as bombs. And he hasn’t looked back, as not only has he composed every single one of his own movies, but he has also composed other directors’ movies, including Kill Bill vol. 2. It’ll be interesting to hear the soundtrack if Rodriguez directs the MCU’s Blade, too.

John Carpenter

Though it was the start of one of the worst horror movie franchises, the original Halloween is iconic. But Carpenter is just as much of a composer as he is a director, as the musical compositions of his films are almost more timeless than his horror classics. Halloween wouldn’t be what it is today without “Halloween Theme,” the haunting piano medley that scores the film. However, Carpenter only became a composer after a negative response from a studio executive.

According to Medium, after a woman watched the movie without music, she wasn’t remotely scared by the film, which led to Carpenter composing a whole score for the 1978 horror movie. So, it’s thanks to a studio executive that fans have so many iconic music pieces. And what’s more impressive is that he completed the score in just two weeks.

Anthony Hopkins

In an interview with The Guardian, Anthony Hopkins revealed, “I’ve been composing music all my life and if I’d been clever enough at school I would like to have gone to music college. As it was I had to settle for being an actor.” While he might be best known for his iconic role as Hannibal Lecter, the best horror villain of the 90s, Hopkins’ clear passion was in music.

Though viewers might not know, Hopkins also directed and composed several movies. Not only is Hopkins an Academy Award-winning actor, but he’s a great musician, too. Hopkins’ most recent composition was for Elyse, and while the film wasn’t all that well-received, it has a stellar soundtrack.

Charlie Chaplin

Given that most of Charlie Chaplin’s movies are silent films, and that he even continued to make mostly silent films when movies with sound were an option, it’s no surprise that actor and director Charlie Chaplin is a composer. Though he was a great comedian with incredible comedy timing and a director with a keen eye for detail, he had to have some kind of musical understanding for those silent films to work so well.

And that’s something Chaplin was a master at. Most of his movies featured epic orchestral soundtracks, and Chaplin composed every single note of every instrument all by himself. Even with movies that did feature sound, such as the incredible war satire The Great Dictator, Chaplin still took the music as seriously as the film.

NEXT: 10 Other Monsters Who Should Join The MCU Next

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