Although the standard line is “what I really want to do is direct,” some celebrities take their fame and talent to the page. There are many celebrity autobiographies or painful attempts at poetry that have been produced, but there are only a few individuals who manage to match their extroverted acting ability with the more introverted talent of telling a story with a pen. These five celebrities are rare examples of actors who not only write, but actually write well.
Steve Martin. First there was the absurdist stand-up comedy which made Steve Martin a superstar. Routines like “King Tut” and his "Saturday Night Live" skits demonstrated his ability to craft a funny and strange bit. His early writing on the “The Smothers Brothers” or the film scripts for his own star vehicles like “The Jerk” and “L.A. Story” seemed like an extension of his act. Then Martin took a surprisingly literary turn with the play, “Picasso at the Lapin Agile” that gave audiences a sense of his artistic breadth. He has continued to write well-received written works like the novella “Shopgirl,” and has published short works in the crème-de-la crème for writers, “New Yorker” magazine. As if those accomplishments were not enough, he plays a mean banjo, juggles, and has been noted for his impressive art collection. From wearing an arrow through his head to the heights of the literary world, Steve Martin may have moved beyond multi-talented to overly talented.
Leia in the "Star Wars" franchise. She continued to play a variety of both lead and supporting roles in films, but after recovering from drug addiction she put her talent on the page with a semi-autobiographical novel “Postcards from the Edge.” Fisher has continued to write novels, as well as a successful memoir “Wishful Drinking,” while also earning impressive money as a Hollywood script doctor on films such as “Hook” and “The Wedding Singer.” With a unique and compelling life story, she has managed to pursue both sides of her career simultaneously, while exploring her struggles with drugs, bi-polar disorder and early stardom.
Emma Thompson. This British powerhouse has not only received recognition for both her acting and writing abilities, she has the rare distinction of also winning Oscars in both categories. Already considered an accomplished stage actress in Britain, she became Hollywood royalty with her Best Actress statuette for "Howards End." After working on an adaptation of Jane Austen’s “Sense and Sensibility” for almost a decade, she finally brought it to the screen with director Ang Lee and won the Oscar for screenwriting as well as a Best Actress nomination. She continues to take on iconic arts, such as Sybill Trelawney, the professor of divination, at Hogwarts in the "Harry Potter" series. She has also written and starred in the “Nanny McPhee” films, while doing an impressive amount of humanitarian work.
James Franco. The ubiquitous Mr. Franco has been everywhere at once: hosting the Oscars, attending graduate school, displaying art exhibits, and performing in Oscar-nominated roles (“127 Hours”) and soap operas ("General Hospital”). Surprisingly, Franco’s first love was English literature, which he majored in at UCLA and only took an acting class to deal with his shyness. After reaching movie stardom, he returned to college and started pursuing a PhD. but also found time to publish “Palo Alto: Stories by Franco.” The book of connected short stories may have received uneven reviews but their high brow inspiration was clear.
Ethan Hawke. From teen stardom in “Dead Poets Society,” Hawke has maintained an interesting if somewhat uneven acting career. He balances dark roles, like the Oscar-nominated rookie cop in “Training Day” with cult hits like “Reality Bites” and “Before Sunrise.” At the same time, he has written very un-Hollywood novels such as “The Hottest State” and “Ash Wednesday.” He also received an Academy Award nomination for his screenplay “Before Sunset.” Hawke has balanced his film career and literary endeavors with a dedication to New York theater. While his output may not be to everyone’s taste, he does win points for his renaissance spirit.