The Oscars were yesterday, and something I’ve started to be more and more aware of recently, are that folks in Hollywood like to team up with each other, and work together over multiple occasions and projects.
I think of my job, working at a hotel, and there are some really fun coworkers, who I have a shorthand with, and we know how each other likes to work and how to communicate. One day though, one of us is going to want to work somewhere else, and the other one will stay where they are, and we won’t get to work together.
Let’s say, however, that one day the hotel closes down! We are both out of a job! I’m sure we would search for a new job together, walking the pavement, submitting resumes, all that jazz. If one of us finds a new hotel that has just opened, and gets hired, we would obviously try to get the other a job at that same hotel. Or even better, if one of us decides to open our own hotel, we would hire the other, if they weren’t already involved in the planning/opening process, which they most likely would be.
This is what they do in Hollywood, but far, far more often. Anywhere from once a decade, all the way down to 2-3 times a year. They find themselves someone (or a team of people) that they like to work with, and do so multiple times over the course of several projects.
I find it incredibly interesting, so let’s take a look at some of the more common teams I’ve noticed.
One of the most important aspects of how much an audience enjoys an actors performance, is their chemistry with other the other actors on screen. Does it feel natural for these characters to react the way they are? Because of this, once an actor finds another with which they have good chemistry, as well as enjoy each others company off screen, they decide to work together multiple times, much to the enjoyment of the audience.
Adam Sandler and Team
Rob Schneider (17), Kevin James (11), Nick Swardson (11), David Spade (10), Chris Rock (7),
This was the first time as a kid I noticed actors together on multiple occasions, and it was Adam Sandler and Rob Schneider. From 50 First Dates to Grown Ups to that awful film Pixels, these guys really must enjoy each others company.
Ben Stiller & Owen Wilson – 12
Zoolander, Meet the Fockers, Starsky & Hutch, and Night at the Museum, these guys are great. For some reason it seems like they always start their movies not liking each other, usually because Stiller is too uptight and focused, whereas Wilson is super chill and wanting to hang. I am so happy that these guys have done well with their careers.
James Franco & Seth Rogen – 10
It seems like James Franco has two different public personas: Scholar and Stoner. Not saying that these are mutually exclusive by any means, but whenever Franco is with Seth Rogen, they are smoking pot, being idiots, and hilarious. Every time I’ve seen Franco with Rogen however, he is getting another college degree, and perfecting the essence of what it means to be an “actor.”
Ben Affleck & Matt Damon – 8
While it doesn’t seem like they work together much anymore, writing and starring in Good Will Hunting is what kick started their career, and they have clearly kept up the friendship over the years. Of course Kevin Smith’s role in their early careers definitely can’t be overlooked, the two are seen as a unit, especially when it comes to messing with Jimmy Kimmel.
Amy Poehler & Tina Fey – 5
This might not be the highest number of movies on this list, but these ladies both got their start in Chicago doing Improv together, which is what landed them on Saturday Night Live together. They not only have incredibly chemistry, but also work ethic, as both ladies have written and starred in their own TV shows, 30 Rock and Parks and Rec. No one can compete to the pure charisma these women have, and deserve an incredible amount of recognition.
Will Ferrell & John C Reilley – 4
Starting recently with Talladega Nights, and going all the way to Holmes and Watson, once Ferrell found Reilley, the two became inseperable. I’m not saying that John C Reilley owes his career to Ferrell, but everything notable except Chicago came after Ricky Bobby and Step Brothers.
Behind the Camera
Working behind the camera requires many different skills. Whether you are writing or directing, the skill set required for dialogue is different than the one needed for overall story and aesthetic design. Because of this, it makes sense for multiple writers or directors to team up with each other, play to their strengths, and make a better film then they could have done individually.
Coen Brothers – 25
A bunch of films that are ridiculous, but played straight. When you look at their filmography, it’s hard to find a commonality between them, except for how weird you feel laughing at them all. None of their films really blow up, but all of them have dedicated cult followings.
Lord and Miller – 9
I had never heard of these guys a few years ago, but in the last two years they have become more and more popular. Really starting their career with 21 Jump Street, then moving on to The Lego Movie, Solo, and finally Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, these guys are right in my crosshairs. They are on a roll, and are not stopping. I cannot wait to see what they do next.
Russo Brothers – 7
These guys recently entered the Nerdd-sphere when they directed Captain America: The Winter Solder. From there they did Civil War, Infinity War, and the soon to be released Endgame. It cannot be ignored however that they wrote the pilots to both Community and Arrested Development. A solid team, can’t wait to see how they end the first generation of the MCU.
Both Sides of the Camera
Having a background in performance personally, I generally see the story belonging to the writer, interpreted by the director, and the actor nothing more than an instrument for the director to use. However, because actors are people, they are each individual instruments, that take a different way to best utilize them. Once a director not only understands how to work with an actor, but also likes the outcome, they tend to want to reuse that actor multiple times, because they know how their story will turn out.
Tim Burton & Johnny Depp – 8 / Helena Bonham Carter – 8
These guys are weird. Tim Burton is practically his own genre at this point. Sweeney Todd to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, you never know what you’re getting in a Tim Burton film, but unfortunately it seems that era has finished, since Burton and Carter got a divorce, the three of them haven’t made any films together, and hardly any separately. It seems like don’t enjoy NOT working together.
Edgar Wright & Simon Pegg – 4 / Nick Frost – 3 / Pegg and Frost without Wright – 8
The Cornetto Trilogy: Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, The World’s End. Three films that have nothing to do with each other, except they are all so delightfully dry British humor, directed and starred by three pals, who make fun movies. While Simon Pegg and Nick Frost kept working together after Edgar Wright moved on, their later films always still feel similar to those first three, and we love them for it.
Ryan Coogler & Michael B. Jordan – 4
Sundance Film Fruitvale Station brought Ryan Coogler to the scene, and put Michael B Jordan in the spotlight to do Fan4stic *confused cheering*. No, it was really Creed that put Michael B Jordan on the map, followed strongly by Black Panther and Creed II, all of which Ryan Coogler directed (except Fan4stic). These two really know what makes “black films” work with “white audiences,” and they are killing it.
Quentin Tarantino & Samuel L. Jackson – 5
These two guys have no problems putting things in movies that usually aren’t in movies. From grotesque violence to using words that most people won’t say in the privacy of their own homes, they can trust each other and create a safe creative space to explore themes that others aren’t willing to touch. The fact that they respect each other enough to push the boundaries as much as they do is what earns them a spot on this list.
Christopher Nolan and Team
Hans Zimmer (8) , Michael Caine (7), Cillian Murphy (6), Christian Bale (4), Tom Hardy (3)
Christopher Nolan is known for a couple things in his movies. For some, it’s how he always uses real film, never digital, or how he values music over dialogue, to the point where you literally can’t hear Tom Hardy. Some people know him for letting Hans Zimmer fall asleep on the organ when writing music (just kidding Hans, we love you). But you if you’ve seen more than one film, you’ll notice there are a lot of familiar faces, out of his nine featured films.