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Everyone loves an actor who puts themselves deep into a role, but how about the ones who write their own? Even better, what about the ones who write for themselves and others? Here are a list of 15 of the most successful actors to distinguish themselves as writers.
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Though she’s known for starring in NBC’s smash comedy 30 Rock, Fey is also the screenwriter behind the hit film Mean Girls and recently published her own biography Bossy Pants.
This recognizable actor from The Wire and Meet The Parents is also one of the screenwriters responsible for Pixar’s Up. He’s made his own films as a writer and director, which include The Station Agent and Win-Win. His next script, a baseball drama called Million Dollar Arm, is set to be directed by Lars and the Real Girl helmer Craig Gillespie with Mad Men star Jon Hamm starring.
To fans of the Marvel movies Clark Gregg is Agent Coulson, the nerdy S.H.I.E.L.D. character linking the narratives of such films as Iron Man, Thor, and The Avengers. Outside of Marvel properties, Gregg is also the writer behind What Lies Beneath and Choke (which he also directed).
Danny Strong has done well for himself acting as stereotypically geeky/weaselly characters on shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997) and Mad Men. Many may not know this nerd is also the scribe behind the Emmy Award winning TV movies Recount and Game Change. His script for The Butler has been directed by Precious filmmaker Lee Daniels and, to top it off, Strong will next be writing The Hunger Games sequels Mockingjay: Part 1 & 2.
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Though he’s had prominent starring roles in such films as Your Highness and Mulholland Drive, the public may know Justin Theroux more for his achievements playing Jennifer Aniston’s boyfriend than anything else. That’s a shame, as his work writing Tropic Thunder and Iron Man 2 helped make him one of the most in-demand screenwriters working in Hollywood today.
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Jason Segel earned his place among the Judd Apatow acting elite with supporting roles in the cult TV series Freaks and Geeks and the box office hit Knocked Up. With Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Segel cemented his future as both a leading man and a screenwriter. The writer parlayed his success into such high-profile hits as The Muppets, a film that he also starred in and wrote.
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Before she counted herself among Twilight’s supporting cast, Nikki Reed made her acting debut in Thirteen. The film, which counts among Twilight director Catherine Hardwicke’s earliest efforts, was co-written by Reed based on her own experiences with drugs and sex at an early age. Her writing earned her an Independent Spirit Nomination for best screenplay.
Star Trek and Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol actor Simon Pegg established himself as a British comedian early in his career. During this time, Pegg wrote for several television sketch comedies and stand-up specials (for such performers as Steve Coogan). His breakout hit would be Spaced, a UK comedy series that was a geek’s answer to Friends. Pegg wrote and starred in it while collaborating with fellow comic Nick Frost and director Edgar Wright. The three have found great success co-writing, starring in and directing such films as Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. Their third film, At World’s End, is currently in production.
Before Owen Wilson was the star of such comedies as The Wedding Crashers, he began his career collaborating on screenplays with fellow filmmaker Wes Anderson. Together, the pair brought audiences the low-budget sleeper Bottle Rocket as well as indie darlings Rushmore and The Royal Tenenbaums. The latter film would earn him an Academy Award nomination for best original screenplay.
Best known to fans as Star Wars’ Princess Leia, Carrie Fisher has been a legitimate Hollywood screenwriter since adapting her book, Postcards From The Edge. She’s written for such classic shows as Roseanne and The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles and helped script two Academy Awards ceremonies (in 2007 and 2002, respectively).
The Hunger Games and Captain America: First Avenger star remains one of the most accomplished character actors of his generation. This often overshadows his accomplishments writing and directing three of his own films-- Blind Date, The Imposters, and Big Night.
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Ice Cube is one of the best examples of a successful rapper-turned-actor thanks to films like Barbershop, Are We Done Yet? and The Longshots. However, many moviegoers often forget the rapper’s accomplishments as a screenwriter, which include All About The Benjamins, The Players Club, and the Friday series.
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In one of the standout entries on this list, this Fight Club and American History X star is known for his skills as a screenwriter in Hollywood—even though he’s never gotten an official WGA credit. Nevertheless, Norton’s work on the screenplays for The Score, Frida, and The Incredible Hulk is well documented and greatly contributed to the success of those films.
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Vardalos became an independent filmmaking all-star with the success of My Big Fat Greek Wedding, which she also wrote. Her other writing credits include Connie and Carla, My Life in Ruins, and the Tom Hanks/Julia Roberts vehicle Larry Crowne.
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Seth Rogen is one of the biggest comedy stars in the world thanks to such films as Superbad and Pineapple Express, two films he also wrote. Other credits the funnyman carries are Drillbit Taylor, The Watch, The Green Hornet and D Ali G Show.
Matt Damon & Ben Affleck
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Ben Affleck and Matt Damon are Academy Award winning screenwriters for Good Will Hunting. After receiving the award it almost seemed as if the two had left screenwriting behind in favor of starring in films exclusively. Thankfully, Matt Damon would return to the written page with Gerry and Promise Land (co-written by The Office star John Krasinski), which is set for release in 2013. Affleck contributed to the writing of his failed TV series Push, Nevada as well as his directorial efforts Gone Baby Gone and The Town.