Bradley Cooper Producer Director

29+ Celebs Behind Our Favorite Shows and Movies


| LAST UPDATE 10/01/2023

By Arianna Morgan

From Selena Gomez to Brad Pitt, Drake, and more, these celebs went behind the scenes for some of our favorite TV shows and movies. So, let's take a closer look at which celeb is connected to which project.

Eva Longoria: Gordita Chronicles

Talk about superhuman! The Desperate Housewives actress hopped onto the HBO series Gordita Chronicles in 2022 as executive producer. Avatar actress Zoe Saldaña was also on board as executive producer.

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The hilarious series takes place in the '80s and follows the Castelli family as they move from the Dominican Republic to Miami. In addition to being executive producer, Longoria also directed the show's first episode. However, the show was not renewed for a second season, leaving both actresses turned producers "heartbroken."

Selena Gomez: 13 Reasons Why

Starting her career in Hollywood as young as she did, Selena Gomez became a Disney icon from her leading role on Wizards of Waverly Place. However, years into her career, she was ready to jump onto the producing train, and by 2017, that's exactly what she did.

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Released in 2016, 13 Reasons Why, a story behind the mysterious death of a teenage girl's death, became one of Netflix's most popular TV shows with the help of Selena Gomez. A year into the show's success, she became an executive producer through her production company, July Moonhead Productions.

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Olivia Wilde: Booksmart

It was her directorial debut, and it was a good one. Olivia Wilde became famous after her time on The O.C., and since then, her career has only skyrocketed, taking on more and more projects - but we have the teen comedy to thank for all her future films.

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Booksmart, a true coming-of-age teen comedy, was Wilde's first job she ever had that "wasn't entirely dependent on and connected to my looks." She told the New York Times that taking on a role behind the camera was finally giving her the chance to explore something she's always wanted to try.

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Elizabeth Banks: Cocaine Bear

This one definitely came as a surprise to us. Best known for her iconic role as Effie Trinket in The Hunger Games series, Banks also became known for behind-the-scene roles! Although she began directing a few years back, it was this year's horror-comedy film, Cocaine Bear, that blew us away.

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Frazer Harrison/Staff via Getty Images

Based on a true story about a bear in 1985 who did actually inhale too much of the drug and died soon thereafter, Cocaine Bear quickly became one of the most successful films of 2023. However, Banks made it clear to Variety before the film's release that the film is a "ginormous risk" and "could be a career-ender."

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Dolly Parton: Buffy the Vampire Slayer

This country superstar decided to take her talents to showbiz back in the '80s! She herself was in front of the screen for a bit as her singing career kicked off, but by 1986, she developed her own production company, Sandollar Entertainment, where they produced the hit TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

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John Shearer/Contributor via Getty Images

However, her name was not even shown in the credits, and her involvement in the series was kept on the DL for years. This year, Buffy herself, Sarah Michelle Gellar, explained to Jimmy Fallon on The Tonight Show that "the legend Dolly Parton was a producer." She even shared that Parton would send Christmas gifts to the cast!

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Shonda Rhimes: The Princess Diaries: Royal Engagement

We know Shonda Rhimes is the queen of American television, with major producing and screenwriting credits under her belt, but we definitely didn't know this was one of them! No surprise, of course, she really can do anything, especially when it comes to dreaming up the life of Mia Thermopolis.

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Dominik Bindl/Contributor via Getty Images

Around the time Rhimes gave us Grey's Anatomy, she also wrote the sequel to The Princess Diaries movie, The Princess Diaries: Royal Engagement. In a more mature twist, we see Princess Mia Thermopolis looking for a husband in order to inherit the throne in Genovia. We will forever and always be fans of the princess of Genovia!

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Whitney Houston: The Princess Diaries

Speaking of The Princess Diaries, we have another major surprise to throw your way. Legendary singer, the one and only Whitney Houston, served as a producer on the iconic 2001 film as well as the film's second installment, The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement.

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Apparently, Whitney was credited as Anne Hathaway's close mentor while filming The Princess Diaries, which was the young actress's first major break in Hollywood. Additionally, Houston produced Disney movies, like The Cheetah Girls and The Cheetah Girls 2.

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Mel Brooks: The Elephant Man

Decades later, we all know about The Elephant Man's influence on society, but what we didn't know was that Mel Brooks was a silent producer. Brook's assistant director in High Anxiety brought him the script for The Elephant Man, a story about a kind-hearted man rejected for his looks, and immediately Brooks was in.

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JB Lacroix/Contributor via Getty Images

According to the famous director, he saw a lot of similarities between his own comedies and The Elephant Man, which is why he decided to take on such a different but meaningful film. The film was nominated for eight Academy Awards and is still beloved by audiences today, over forty years later.

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Danny DeVito: Pulp Fiction

He's an actor, comedian, filmmaker, and everything else in between. Two decades into his career, the living legend opened his own production company, Jersey Films, with one of his most successful ventures being Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction - a project he signed onto without reading the script!

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Santiago Felipe/Contributor via Getty Images

"I hadn't seen Quentin direct or act," DeVito told The Guardian in 2012. "I hadn't even seen Reservoir Dogs when I bought his next project, which wasn't even written. It was just about him. I liked the way he was talking about it. The guy was just so cool. It seemed simple to me."

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Denzel Washington: Ma Rainey's Black Bottom

Washington was a huge piece of the playwright August Wilson's 10-play series of stage and screen productions, so it only made sense he was a producer of the 2015 film adaptation of Wilson's Ma Rainey's Black Bottom. The film starred Viola Davis, Taylour Paige, and Chadwick Boseman, which was Boseman's last film before he died.

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Michael Loccisano/Staff via Getty Images

"August Wilson is one of the greatest playwrights in American theater history, and to share his style, his words, his wisdom, and his talent with the world is a great privilege," said Washington when the Netflix film was announced. He also stated that it was an honor to work with the director, "the incomparable George C. Wolfe."

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Leonardo DiCaprio: Orphan

After being in the biz for so many years, many celebs decide to take their talents from front of house to back of house through producing, writing, or directing. Like many of his friends, DiCaprio started his own production company, Appian Way, in 2001, producing popular movies like The Wolf of Wall Street and Orphan.

Leonardo DiCaprio Orphan ProducerLeonardo DiCaprio Orphan Producer
Jun Sato/Contributor via Getty Images

That's right. Leo is a horror movie fan! According to the movie's leading character, Isabelle Fuhrman, DiCaprio was the reason she was hired in the first place. "Leo watched my tape when he was out on location filming, and he called the studio and said, 'It's Isabelle, or I'm taking the movie someplace else.'"

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Michael B. Jordan: Creed III

Jordan has been in the biz since he was a kid, so he's certainly no stranger to the camera! The multi-hyphenate celeb has no doubt become one of the biggest actors in Hollywood, so when he announced he was trying his hand at directing, we knew we were in for a treat!

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After being a regular in Ryan Coogler's films, Coogler and his team talked with Jordan about making his directorial debut for Creed III- and he did! "Michael had a vision from day one. He knew what this movie needed to be," producer Liz Raposo said to Deadline about Michael directing the third Creed film.

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Noah Baumbach: Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted

Although he frequently collaborates with artists such as Wes Anderson, Adam Driver, and Greta Gerwig, this time around was a little different for Mr. Baumbach. In his 2019 Netflix movie, Marriage Story, Baumbach hinted that because of his messy and expensive divorce, he took on a writing project he would usually never commit to.

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In 2010, when he was separating from his wife, Jennifer Jason Lee, Noah agreed to do rewrites for the Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted script. And then years later, in Marriage Story, Adam Driver states he took "two sh***y plays" to pay for an expensive lawyer during his divorce, and well, we got the memo.

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Will Smith: ATL

The coming-of-age dramedy was a major box office success, all thanks to a certain someone named Will Smith. Starring hip-hop artist and Atlanta native T.I., who made his acting debut in the 2006 film, ATL follows the story of a young high school kid facing the challenges of living in an Atlanta neighborhood.

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Jon Kopaloff/Contributor via Getty Images

With Smith's involvement in the film, he managed to gear the studio away from the original plan of just a limited film release. T.I's co-star Jason Weaver shared on the Talk2pops podcast that Smith and his production company "fought tooth and nail to make sure that was at least in the same amount of theaters as Ice Age 2."

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Tom Hanks: My Big Fat Greek Wedding

Despite there being three installments of the beloved rom-com, when My Big Fat Greek Wedding premiered in 2002, it wasn't nearly as successful as hoped. However, the film quickly gained a cult following, and we have one Mr. Tom Hanks to thank for that!

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Donna Ward/Contributor via Getty Images

According to writer and star Nia Vardalos, no studio was interested in buying her movie, so she turned it into a one-woman show. Rita Wilson went to see her performance and connected with the story so much that she brought her husband, Tom Hanks, along. Afterward, he called Vardalos and told her, "I'm gonna make your movie."

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Tom Hanks: Mamma Mia!

While we're talking about Tom Hanks, we do have to mention one other iconic and unexpected film he and his wife, Rita Wilson, produced. Like many other millions, Hanks is a major ABBA fan, so much so that he and his wife produced both Mamma Mia! and Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again.

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As we later found out through an interview on The Graham Norton Show, Hanks explained that he auditioned for the movie but didn't land the role due to his singing. So, instead of being in front of the screen for this one, the nicest guy in Hollywood took producing credits!

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Carrie Fisher: Scream 3

After the original Star Wars trilogy came to an end, Princess Leia, aka Carrie Fisher, decided to put her talents into screenwriting. She wrote the semi-autobiographical one-woman show Postcards from the Edge and later developed a career by becoming a "script doctor."

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Dimitrios Kambouris/Staff via Getty Images

Fisher became famous for rewriting and adding to already written scripts, such as The Wedding Singer, Sister Act, and Hook, but one of her most unexpected doctoring was in the horror films Scream 3. Fans later claimed that they could hear Fisher's voice through Courteney Cox's character.

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Will Ferrell: Succession

Known as one of the funniest actors in Hollywood for his iconic roles in films such as Step Brothers and Anchorman, Will Ferrell is also known as one of the business's most successful producers. In addition to producing comedies under his own production company, the SNL legend recently became part of the HBO family as well.

Will Ferrell Succession HBOWill Ferrell Succession HBO
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Along with his founding partner, Adam McKay, Ferell produced one of HBO's most famous TV shows, Succession, through their production company, Gary Sanchez Productions. The show includes a character named Willa Ferreyra. Although it was never confirmed to be named after the famous producer, the Internet seems to think otherwise.

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Barbra Streisand: The Prince of Tides

With a career spanning over six decades, Barbra Streisand is a true living legend. Besides being an award-winning singer and actor, Streisand has also done a fair share of work behind the camera. After her directorial debut with Yentl in 1983, Streisand went on to direct The Prince of Tides in 1991.

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Taylor Hill/Contributor via Getty Images

According to film critic Robert Ebert from the Chicago Sun-Times, Streisand's second shot at directing was the real deal. "By directing one good film, you prove that you had a movie inside of you. By directing two, you prove you are a real director, and that is what Barbra Streisand proves with The Prince of Tides."

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Drake: Euphoria

Just hold on, we're going to... Euphoria High! Aubrey Graham, aka Drake, is also part of the Euphoria gang, signing on as executive producer in 2019. Before becoming Champagne Papi, the singer got his start in the biz with his beloved role on Degrassi in the early 2000s, but we haven't seen much of him on TV since.

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Kevin Winter/Staff via Getty Images

According to some of the cast, they've seen their producer here and there on set, but it's clear he invests a lot of money in the show and was a huge part of getting Zendaya to land the role of Rue. The One Dance rapper is a proud member of the Euphoria family, promoting the show on IG and commenting on the cast's pics.

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Drake: Top Boy

Drake's producing credits are just growing and growing! In addition to his executive producing title on Euphoria, the musician has played a huge part in Netflix's Top Boy revival. The British crime drama was canceled back in 2014, but Netflix brought the show right back to life with three more seasons and Drake's signature.

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According to The Guardian, the Canadian rapper became a big fan of the show, and after it was canceled, he decided to do what he could to bring it back. After meeting with the show's creator and writer, Ronan Bennett, the pair pitched their plan to Netflix, and an hour later, Top Boy was brought back to life.

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Robert De Niro: Rent

If anyone could do it, it would be Robert De Niro. The Taxi Driver star was responsible for the 2005 film adaptation of the Broadway show Rent. The musical tells the story of a group of people in NYC struggling to live with the side effects of AIDs in their community while dealing with other social and economic challenges.

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De Niro helped transform one of the biggest Broadway hits of all time to the big screen, where its story still continues to influence millions of audience members today. Additionally, De Niro famously produced other major box office successes, such as Meet the Parents and The Irishman.

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Steven Mnuchin: The LEGO NINJAGO Movie

This is definitely a rare combination, but we're here for it! Steven Mnuchin served as the 77th United States Secretary of the Treasury as part of President Donald Trump's Cabinet from 2017 to 2021. He also found the time to be a Hollywood film producer.

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Chip Somodevilla/Staff via Getty Images

The former Goldman Sachs investment banker took a shot at film producing before becoming a US cabinet member, and although he didn't stick around for too long, he built up quite the resume. His production company, Dune Entertainment, produced films such as The Disaster Artist, Fist Fight, and even The LEGO NINJAGO Movie.

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Slash: Nothing Left To Fear

Guns N' Roses lead guitarist Slash switched gears back in 2013 to be a producer on the horror film Nothing Left To Fear, where he also wrote the closing theme song and score for the film. According to Rolling Stone, Slash found the project extremely "exciting" because of his "passion for movies, and especially horror movies."

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Chelsea Lauren/Contributor via Getty Images

He continued, "So at this stage of the game, to have the opportunity to be able to produce horror movies is great, and to be hands-on behind the scenes and getting to finally be involved where you can influence the outcome of what the picture is gonna be and what it's gonna look like is very exciting."

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P. Diddy: Two Distant Strangers

Diddy won an Oscar for this one! In 2021, the hip-hop legend took home the Academy Award for Best Live-Action Short Film for the film Two Distant Strangers, starring Joey Bada$$. The film served as a social wake-up call influenced by the police brutality happening in the United States in 2020.

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Although Diddy wasn't at the ceremony that night to celebrate his win, videos showed the artist on FaceTime congratulating Joey Bada$$ and Travon Free. "That's Diddy right there baby. Producer extraordinaire," Free told Sean Combs, who executive produced the film, over FaceTime - and that he is!

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Margot Robbie: Promising Young Woman

It's no secret Margot Robbie has her own production company, LuckyChap Entertainment, but did you know she was behind the thriller Promising Young Woman? Her production company truly emphasizes women-focused features, and Promising Young Woman has become one of its greatest successes.

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The movie star Carey Mulligan, too, strongly believes in Robbie's production company's goal. "What Margot Robbie's company does is just brilliant. She promotes stories about real women, and I think any part of that that I can have is such a privilege." She, too, served as executive producer on the film.

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Brad Pitt: Moonlight

Brad Pitt has another success story on his hands. Through his production company, Plan B Entertainment, the multi-hyphenate superstar has produced some of Hollywood's greatest films, such as 12 Years a Slave and The Big Short. However, it was one particular movie that really caught our eye (and everyone else's).

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Marc Piasecki/Contributor via Getty Images

During the Telluride Film Festival, where 12 Years a Slave was screened, Pitt met Barry Jenkins after his directorial debut for Medicine for Melancholy. Through the festival, Pitt and Jenkins' relationship blossomed and later led Pitt to take on Jenkins next as a producer. The movie? Moonlight.

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John Krasinski: A Quiet Place

He might best be known as Jim Halpert on The Office, but little did we know he's also the brains behind the horror franchise A Quiet Place. The post-apocalyptic science fiction films are best known for their limited dialogue and way of captivating an audience with mostly picture and engaging silence.

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ANGELA WEISS/Contributor via Getty Images

John Krasinski is responsible for the movie's major success, as the 2018 film hit over $300 million at the box office, with a budget of only $17 million. "These fans have been so unbelievably kind and invested," he said. John Krasinski not only wrote the screenplay, but he directed and acted in the film as well!

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Bradley Cooper: A Star Is Born

We all know Bradley Cooper was a true star in the 2018 movie A Star Is Born, but what we didn't realize is that the actor also co-wrote the film! Alongside Eric Roth and Will Fetter, Bradley poured his heart and soul into that script, and their efforts were rewarded with a nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay at the Oscars.

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Oh, and if that isn't enough, Cooper also produced the film and made his directorial debut. Fellow producer Howell Taylor called Cooper's dedication to the movie "everything," adding that "we are all here because of him" and that "the reality is, he's all over this," and "it's an incredible achievement." That it is!

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Angelina Jolie: Unbroken

From Maleficent to Mrs. Smith, Jolie has played phenomenal characters throughout her career. So, it made sense when she decided to make the switch to behind the cameras. Her directorial debut came in 2011 with the war drama film In the Land of Blood and Honey and was followed up in 2014 with another war drama film, Unbroken.

Angelina Jolie Unbroken DirectorAngelina Jolie Unbroken Director
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"There is a huge freedom that comes from being behind the camera," Jolie explained to Elle in 2015. "It brings a lot of responsibilities as well but is intensely rewarding. Particularly the chance to help draw out the best in young actors, like Jack O'Connell in Unbroken, who is a remarkable talent."

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