One of George Clooney’s two Academy Awards is for co-producing “Argo” – a film he didn’t star in, write or direct. And when that movie swept the Best Picture race in the 2012-13 season, he was up on stage to accept with partner Grant Heslov and director Ben Affleck. This year, more than ever, several big-time Hollywood actors and filmmakers have served as producers on some of the prime awards contenders – with no other involvement in the movie whatsoever.
MATT DAMON, “Manchester by the Sea” – Damon was originally set to star and direct the family drama. But once director Kenneth Lonergan was on board, Damon decided, due to scheduling conflicts and the dynamics of the role itself, that Casey Affleck was better for the part.
LEONARDO DICAPRIO, “Live By Night” – The reigning Best Actor recipient joins Ben Affleck as producers on his “Argo” follow-up, a 1920s gangster/action/crime/drama.
COLIN FIRTH, “Eye in the Sky” – “The King’s Speech” Oscar winner has his name attached to the indie surprise hit surveillance thriller with Helen Mirren, Barkhad Abdi, Aaron Paul and the late Alan Rickman.
JEREMY RENNER, “The Founder” – Hawkeye himself co-stars with Amy Adams in the sci-fi drama “Arrival”, but he’s also behind the McDonald’s origin/Ray Kroc dramedy starring Michael Keaton.
DARREN ARONOFSKY, “Jackie” – The director of star Natalie Portman’s “Black Swan” was originally supposed to helm this biopic on the former First Lady.
PETER BERG, “Hell or High Water” – Berg pulled double duty this year as director of “Deepwater Horizon” and “Patriots Day” (both starring Mark Wahlberg). But he’s also got producers credit for the low-budget modern Western bank robber drama featuring Best Supporting Actor contender Jeff Bridges.
SHAWN LEVY, “Arrival” – Along with this alien invasion tale, the “Night at the Museum” and “Pink Panther” director has also been investing in Netflix recently, with episodes of “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” and “Stranger Things” under his belt.