In the star-powered world of Hollywood these days, you often hear tales of ‘creative differences’ putting a film on hold or requiring a studio to bring in a new director. But now and then, actors and directors just click, leading to them collaborating on several projects down the line.

Still quite a rare occurrence across cinema, the greatest of the continued collaborations between a director and their star actor is that of Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro. In the 1970s, 80s, and 90s, the duo ruled the big screen with powerful movies which have left a lasting hold on movie fans. There are, however, some other notable duos which have also helped to create some great movies, but none have been as impactful as Scorsese and De Niro.

How some of the great director-actor duos work in modern cinema

Sometimes, these director-actor collaborations are described as an artist and a muse situation, in which the director takes inspiration from the actor’s range or their personas. Many people who work in the arts see their significant others as their muse, but in cinema, when a director and actor click, incredible movies can come as a result.

One of the most famous modern examples of a once-inseparable collaboration duo is that of director Tim Burton and actor Johnny Depp. Noted for Burton’s notably kooky films and Depp’s eccentric personality and acting style, this insightful movie site labelled the Burton-Depp duo as one of the most fruitful artist-muse pairings in modern pop culture. The two have teamed up on a long line of standout films, including Sweeny Todd – The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.

Of all of the great directors of modern cinema, however, few are as controversial and revered as Quentin Tarantino. Many actors have stared in his movies, but it’s Samuel L. Jackson who has been given the most roles. As seen in the video above, Jackson auditioned for Reservoir Dogs and wasn’t given a part, but Tarantino caught up with the actor later to tell him that he’s writing a film for him, Pulp Fiction.

From there, Jackson has featured in some capacity in six Tarantino-directed movies. Tarantino just seems to enjoy writing roles for the dynamic Jackson, and as explained by this site, he never fails to deliver, even in smaller roles like the narrator of Inglorious Basterds.

Scorsese-De Niro’s legacy of greatness

A dominant force through three decades and still noted as an almighty film-duo when they have fleetingly collaborated since 1995’s Casino, Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro started to collaborate in Mean Streets in 1973. As noted in their interviews, Scorsese and De Niro became good friends through their work together, which made it somewhat difficult for the director to adjust his method when he worked with other actors. With De Niro by his side, Scorsese directed many still culturally iconic creations like Taxi Driver in 1976, Raging Bull in 1980, and Goodfellas in 1990.

Taxi Driver is where the line “You talkin’ to me?” originated from De Niro’s character. Raging Bull is still hailed as the greatest boxing film of all-time and won De Niro the Oscar for Best Actor. Goodfellas is considered by many to be one of the greatest films of all-time, proving to have a significant impact on pop culture today. For example, this is a recommended site that features the game ‘GoodFeathers,’ which draws its inspiration from the 90s classic.

In the time between 1995’s Casino and the upcoming Scorsese-De Niro collaboration The Irishman, Scorsese created another collaboration with Leonardo DiCaprio, starting with Gangs of New York in 2003 and leading to the likes of The Departed in 2006 and The Wolf of Wall Street in 2013. Soon, Martin Scorsese will combine his collaborators of past and present with DiCaprio and De Niro signed up to Killers of the Flower Moon.

It’s a relatively rare occurrence in cinema, but when a director and actor manage to click and find themselves creating roles which work well on both sides of the camera, they can make incredible movies.