19 Surprising TV Actors Who Also Direct

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Lots of actors are satisfied with perfecting their craft in front of the camera. They shine in the spotlight. But sometimes they're inspired to play a different role in TV, and that's the role of director. These actors have ideas and a vision of what they would like to see in a show.

Most times they're directing the show they act in.

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These actors know the show so well that they want to expand their creative wings and make their visions come to life from behind the screen. Typically acting as they direct, these talents move flawlessly between roles, often enhancing their acting ability.

Experiencing a TV show from a different perspective is a challenge. One that a lot of actors aspire to achieve. Have any of your favorite actors also directed the very shows you enjoy? Chances are they might have. Read on to find out if your favorites have made the leap.

1. Matthew Gray Gubler - Criminal Minds

It should come as no surprise that the talent who plays Dr. Spencer Reid on Criminal Minds has 11 directing credits from the show. Gubler has also directed several short films and is a writer, producer, and artist. That's a whole lot of talent wrapped up in our favorite brainiac.

2. Chandra Wilson - Grey's Anatomy

Chandra Wilson plays the five-foot-nothing no-nonsense heart of gold surgeon Dr. Miranda Bailey on Grey's Anatomy. While playing the role, she's also directed a whopping 19 episodes for the series. Although Grey's is the only show she both acts and directs in, she's also directed episodes for The Fosters and Scandal.

3. Mariska Hargitay - Law & Order: SVU

Mariska has played the role of Olivia Benson on Law & Order: SVU since day one, but in recent years she's also stepped behind the camera. Since 2014, she's directed six episodes for the series and will probably continue in both roles until the end of the long-running series.

4. Hugh Laurie - House

We know Hugh Laurie as House on the medical drama of the same name. Did you know he also directed a couple of episodes? We have to wonder if acting with an American accent while directing without tripped up the actor on set. It's funny to imagine House with a British accent.

5. Jennifer Garner - Alias

Jennifer Garner played Sydney Bristow, a kickass international spy for the five season series. A year before the end of the series, Garner tried her hand at directing. She directed one episode for the series and hadn't tried it again since, but that doesn't mean she won't.

6. Courteney Cox - Cougar Town

Courteney Cox is probably most widely recognized as the anal retentive Monica Gellar on Friends. She has a boatload of other acting credits to her name and some directing ones too. When Cox was playing her role on Cougar Town, she also directed twelve episodes for the series.

7. Debbie Allen - Grey's Anatomy

Debbie Allen has a long list of director credits, some in which she played a role like Everybody Hates Chris. She started directing episodes of Grey's Anatomy before she even started her role as Dr. Catherine Avery. She loved the show so much; she decided to join in too.

8. Jensen Ackles - Supernatural

Fighting supernatural beings isn't Jensen Ackles only talent. He works on both sides of the camera on Supernatural. Ackles has directed five of the episodes he's played a role in as Dean Winchester.

9. Bryan Cranston - Breaking Bad

You probably recognize Bryan Cranston as Walter White on Breaking Bad, but before that, he was Malcolm's dad on Malcolm in the Middle. Cranston directed episodes for both of these shows while playing a role. Most recently he stepped into another show to direct but doesn't act in -- Modern Family.

10. David Schwimmer - Friends

David Schwimmer has a lot of acting credits to his name, 54 to be exact, but he's well known as Paleontologist Ross Geller on Friends. While playing Ross for ten years, he also directed ten episodes. Schwimmer went on to direct a few more TV shows and a couple of movies.

11. Peter Krause - Parenthood

Peter Krause is well-known as the straight-laced dad, brother, and son on Parenthood. While he was in that role, he sat in the director's chair and pulled off two episodes in 2012 and 2013. He wasn't the only Braverman man to direct in Parenthood because Crosby (Dax Shepard) tries his hand in directing too.

12. Robin Wright - House of Cards

Robin Wright said she caught the directing bug while playing Claire Underwood on House of Cards. She directed one episode and loved it so much that she said she might do more directing than acting in the future.

13. Neil Patrick Harris - How I Met Your Mother

Neil Patrick Harris, a.k.a. Doogie Houser and Barney Stinson had the opportunity to direct an episode of How I Met Your Mother before it ended. He loved the role so much that he went on to direct an episode of The Goodwin Games and is interested in continuing in both roles.

14. Steve Carell - The Office

Comedian Steve Carell is an accomplished actor on both the big screen and the small screen. When he was playing his role on The Office, he decided to dip his toe into the directing world. He directed three episodes for the series, joining Jim and Dwight, who also directed some episodes. Teamwork!

15. Peter Berg - Friday Night Lights

Although Peter Berg didn't play a role in Friday Night Lights, he was instrumental in bringing the show to the small screen. He directed the pilot of the show which was Emmy-nominated. He's also an actor in his own right playing in shows like Chicago Hope, Alias, and The King of Queens.

16. Tate Donovan - Glee

You might recognize Tate Donovan as Rachel's let's-make-Ross-jealous boyfriend Joshua. What you might not know is Tate also played in and directed episodes for Damages and The O.C., as well as two episodes of Glee.

17. Jodie Foster - Orange is the New Black

Jodie Foster has been directed for a few decades now, but usually on the big screen. Most recently she shared her talents with Netflix and directed an Emmy Award-nominated episode of Orange is the New Black. Not only that but she directed an episode of House of Cards too.

18. Sarah Paulson - American Horror Story

Sarah Paulson plays multiple roles in the American Horror Story series. She's been acting since 1994, and just made her directorial debut for American Horror Story Apocalypse. Remember returning to the murder house? That was all Paulson. Not a bad debut!

19. Fred Savage - Modern Family

Our little Kevin Arnold from The Wonder Years is all grown up. Not only has he continued acting, but he's repeatedly taken on the role of director as well. He directed a couple of episodes of Boy Meets World, which stars his real-life brother and, most recently he's been directing for 2 Broke Girls and Modern Family.

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