Directors

Remember Catch Me If You Can, Schindlers List or even Saving Private Ryan? They are all Directors are the ones who direct the translation of the script into the final movie. They guide the complete process of making of the film starting right from the visualization of the script to the completion of the filming. The role of a director in film making is extremely complex—he is responsible not just for the technical aspects, but also for the dramatization and artistic elements of film production. Direction is a highly creative process; the director has to give a concrete form to the written words in the script by translating them into sounds and visuals. He has to guide the cinematographer in camera placements, selection of shots and staging of the action. He has to manage the flow of film production in a controlled pace by working with the other crew members and guiding them in setups and rehearsals. Film making involves various components which are to be converged into a single complete unit, i.e., the movie. It is the director who coordinates the efforts of the different professionals involved in film making to realize the artistic vision that eventually takes the shape of a film. Read on to know about the life and works of famous directors, through their biographies and timelines, from around the world.

This ranking is based on an algorithm that combines various factors, including the votes of our users and search trends on the internet.

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 1 Clint Eastwood

Clint Eastwood
6
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: May 31, 1930
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: San Francisco, California, United States
The quintessential Western man in the Hollywood movies, Clint Eastwood is regarded as the cultural icon of masculinity. Eastwood’s brilliant portrayal of tough, rugged, ruthless guy in the Western movies endeared him to the masses and brought him international fame.

 2 Steven Spielberg

Steven Spielberg
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Famous As: film director
Birthdate: December 18, 1946
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Cincinnati, Ohio, United States

Film director, producer, and screenwriter Steven Spielberg is one of the most popular directors and producers in film history. A pioneer of the New Hollywood era, he popularized the genre of escapist films. As of 2020, he is the highest-grossing film director in history. He has won the Academy Award for Best Director twice.

 3 Quentin Tarantino

Quentin Tarantino
4
Famous As: Fimmaker
Birthdate: March 27, 1963
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Knoxville, Tennessee, United States

Popular film director, screenwriter, and producer, Quentin Tarantino, first rose to fame as an independent filmmaker in the early 1990s. His films are known for their nonlinear story-lines and neo-noir elements and have garnered both critical and commercial success. He is the winner of two Academy Awards and has been called "the single most influential director of his generation."

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 4 Charlie Chaplin

Charlie Chaplin
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Famous As: Comic Actor
Birthdate: April 16, 1889
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Walworth, London, England
Died: December 25, 1977

Cinema lovers around the world hold Charlie Chaplin in high esteem. One of the biggest stars of the silent film era and an icon, he left the audience in splits with his comedic performances. Even today, his performances in movies like Modern Times and The Gold Rush are considered classic. The legendary actor was also a writer, director and producer.

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 5 Christopher Nolan

Christopher Nolan
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Famous As: Director
Birthdate: July 30, 1970
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Westminster, London, England

British-American writer and director, Christopher Nolan is known for his distinctive kind of films which are often intelligent, deep and nonlinear. He gained international recognition with Memento and further reached greater heights with big budget movies like The Dark Knight film series, Inception, Interstellar and Dunkirk. The multiple award winning director began shooting short films at the age of seven.

 6 Martin Scorsese

Martin Scorsese
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Famous As: Film director
Birthdate: November 17, 1942
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Queens, New York City, New York, United States

Martin Scorsese is widely considered one of the most influential and significant film directors in the history of the American film industry. One of the most decorated film directors, Scorsese has nine Oscar nominations, the most for any living director. He has also founded many non-profit organizations like The Film Foundation and World Cinema Foundation.

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 7 Ron Howard

Ron Howard
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Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: March 1, 1954
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Duncan, Oklahoma, United States

Ron Howard started his career in the show business as an actor, but it was in direction that he found his true calling. He is highly respected for his craft and films like Solo: A Star Wars Story, Apollo 13 and A Beautiful Mind. He won the Academy Award for the Best  Director for A Breautiful Mind.

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 8 Tim Burton

Tim Burton
4
Famous As: Director
Birthdate: August 25, 1958
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Burbank, California, United States

The quintessential filmmaker of gothic fantasy films in Hollywood, Tim Burton's contribution to the long list of American film industry's quirky movies is immense. Since he is also an artist and animator, he is perhaps best-suited for making the kind of films that he has made so far - Edward Scissorhands, Planet of the Apes, and Alice in Wonderland.

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 9 Stanley Kubrick

Stanley Kubrick
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Famous As: Film Director
Birthdate: July 26, 1928
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Manhattan, New York, United States
Died: March 7, 1999

Regarded as one of the greatest American filmmakers, Stanley Kubrick was the maker of acclaimed movies like Dr. Strangelove, 2001: A Space Odyssey and Barry Lyndon. Stanley Kubrick was known for his exceptional visual style and artistic expression. He began his career as a magazine photographer and subsequently began directing short films. His first big break came with the hit movie Spartacus.

 10 George Lucas

George Lucas
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Famous As: Filmmaker
Birthdate: May 14, 1944
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Modesto, California, United States
National Medal of Arts-winner George Lucas is best known for his iconic movie series Star Wars and Indiana Jones. He wished to the join the U.S. Air Force but was rejected, following which he studied film production at USC. He is also a Science Fiction Hall of Fame inductee.

 11 Mel Brooks

Mel Brooks
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Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: June 28, 1926
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: BrooBrooklyn, New York, United States

Mel Brooks is the director of iconic comedy films and spoofs like The Producers, Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein, Silent Movie, High Anxiety and Spaceballs. He is also an actor and a writer and has written for many films. He has received many awards and accolades and won an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay for the film. The Producers, in 1969.

 12 Hayao Miyazaki

Hayao Miyazaki
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Famous As: Film director
Birthdate: January 5, 1941
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Bunkyō

Considered one of the most prominent filmmakers in the history of animated films, Hayao Miyazaki is a Japanese animator and manga artist. A co-founder of Studio Ghibli, Miyazaki has gained worldwide acclaim as a maker of animated films and a masterful storyteller. Miyazaki has served as an inspiration to several world-renowned animators and directors, including James Cameron and Wes Anderson.

 13 Alfred Hitchcock

Alfred Hitchcock
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Famous As: Film Director
Birthdate: August 13, 1899
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Leytonstone, London, England
Died: April 29, 1980

Popularly known as the Master of Suspense, Alfred Hitchcock pioneered the Hitchcockian style of filmmaking. One of the most studied filmmakers in the world, Hitchcock is also one of the most influential in the history of cinema. In his career, that spanned six decades, he directed some of the greatest films of all time, such as Psycho and Vertigo.

 14 Orson Welles

Orson Welles
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Famous As: Actor, Director
Birthdate: May 6, 1915
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Kenosha, Wisconsin, United States
Died: October 10, 1985

American filmmaker, Orson Welles, acted in and directed the 1941 film, Citizen Kane, which is considered to be one the greatest movies ever made. Though hailed as a genius, many of his films didn’t work at the box office. The Stranger, Macbeth, Chimes at Midnight, Touch of Evil and The Trial are some of the other films that he directed.

 15 David Lynch

David Lynch
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Famous As: Filmmaker
Birthdate: January 20, 1946
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Missoula, Montana, United States

American filmmaker David Lynch is widely regarded as one of the most influential and accomplished directors of the modern era. Eraserhead, The Elephant Man, Blue Velvet, Wild at Heart, The Straight Story, Lost Highway, Mulholland Drive and Inland Empire are some of his acclaimed films. He was given an honorary Oscar in 2019. He is also a painter and a musician.

 16 Wes Anderson

Wes Anderson
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Famous As: Producer
Birthdate: May 1, 1969
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Houston, Texas, United States

Wes Anderson’s movies mostly have eccentric narratives. BBC named his films The Royal Tenenbaums, Moonrise Kingdom, and The Grand Budapest Hotel to their list of the greatest films made since 2000. He owns a production company and has won a Silver Bear for the animation film Isle of Dogs.

 17 Spike Lee

Spike Lee
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Famous As: Film director
Birthdate: March 20, 1957
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Atlanta, Georgia, United States

Spike Lee is a celebrated and one of the most decorated American filmmakers of his generation. Most of his critically acclaimed films explore political issues, such as urban crime and poverty, colorism in the African-American community, and race relations. Four of his films have been selected for conservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress.

 18 Richard Attenborough

Richard Attenborough
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Famous As: British Politician
Birthdate: August 29, 1923
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Cambridge, England
Died: August 24, 2014

Richard Attenborough is credited with making one of the greatest films of all time - Gandhi. Also an actor, Richard served as the president of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts and the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. Apart from being honored by the British royalty, he was also honored with India's third-highest civilian award, The Padma Bhushan.

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 19 James Cameron

James Cameron
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Famous As: Filmmaker
Birthdate: August 16, 1954
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Kapuskasing, Canada

Canadian film director, producer, and screenwriter James Cameron is best known for making science fiction and epic films. He is the co-founder of the production companies Lightstorm Entertainment and Digital Domain. Time magazine named him as one of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2012. He is also an environmentalist.

 20 Francis Ford Coppola

Francis Ford Coppola
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Famous As: FilmMaker
Birthdate: April 7, 1939
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Detroit, Michigan, United States

Francis Ford Coppola is an American filmmaker. Widely regarded as one of the greatest filmmakers ever, Francis Ford Coppola was a prominent figure in the Hollywood Renaissance filmmaking movement of the 1960s and 1970s. A much revered and celebrated filmmaker, he is credited with directing some of the greatest films of all time, including The Godfather movie series.

 21 Peter Jackson

Peter Jackson
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Famous As: Film Director, Producer & Screenwriter
Birthdate: October 31, 1961
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Pukerua Bay, New Zealand

New Zealand director/producer Peter Jackson is best known for his three-time Academy Award-winning work in The Return of the King, the third part of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. The third-highest-grossing director ever, he is also the man behind The Hobbit trilogy and the 2005 film King Kong

 22 Adam Sandler

Adam Sandler
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Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: September 9, 1966
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Brooklyn, New York, United States

Actor, comedian, and filmmaker, Adam Sandler, is best known for his comedic roles in Hollywood movies. Despite being a popular actor he also has the ignominious distinction of having appeared in numerous widely panned movies and is the holder of three Golden Raspberry Awards! He has released a few comedy albums as well.

 23 Paul Thomas Anderson

Paul Thomas Anderson
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Famous As: Director
Birthdate: June 26, 1970
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Studio City, California
Director Paul Thomas Anderson’s style of using hard-hitting cinematography and flawed characters is distinctive. He first shot to fame with Boogie Nights in 1997 and then impressed his critics with There Will Be Blood in 2007. He has also directed music videos and made a short film for Netflix.

 24 Rob Reiner

Rob Reiner
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Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: March 6, 1947
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: The Bronx, New York, United States

 25 Ridley Scott

Ridley Scott
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Famous As: Film Producer, Director
Birthdate: November 30, 1937
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: South Shields, England

British film director, Ridley Scott,is hailed as a master of his craft and his movies are known for their visual style and intricate details. Alien, Blade Runner, Thelma & Louise, Gladiator, Black Hawk Down, American Gangster, Prometheus, Alien: Covenant and The Martian are some of his acclaimed and successful films. He was knighted in 2003.

 26 Burt Reynolds

Burt Reynolds
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Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: February 11, 1936
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Lansing, Michigan, United States
Died: September 6, 2018

Called a sex symbol, Burt Reynolds was one of the most charismatic actors to rule the silver screen. The star of movies like The Longest Yard, Boogie Nights and Best Friends was a massive box-office attraction from 1978 to 1982, with Smokey and the Bandit being his biggest hits. However, he really did not get thumbs up from movie critics.

 27 Michael J. Fox

Michael J. Fox
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Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: June 9, 1961
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Edmonton, Canada

Beginning his career as a child star, actor Michael J. Fox went on to play more mature roles as a young adult and established himself firmly in Hollywood. His thriving career suffered a setback when he was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease at just 29. Despite his health issues, he continues to act and advocates for Parkinson's disease research.

 28 Olivia Wilde

Olivia Wilde
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Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: March 10, 1984
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: New York, New York, United States

Popular actress and filmmaker, Olivia Wilde shot to fame with the award winning medical drama, House. Since then, she has appeared in numerous movies and television productions like TRON: Legacy, Richard Jewell and Bickford Shmeckler’s Cool Ideas; made her Broadway debut with 1984 and directorial debut with Booksmart. She is also a board member of Artists for Peace and Justice.

 29 Danny DeVito

Danny DeVito
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Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: November 17, 1944
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Neptune Township, New Jersey, United States

An award-winning actor, Danny DeVito overcame a rare genetic disorder called Fairbank's disease to become an influential figure in the American film industry. Along with Michael Shamberg, he founded a production company called Jersey Films, which went on to produce films like Pulp Fiction. He was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2011.

 30 Werner Herzog

Werner Herzog
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Famous As: Film director
Birthdate: September 5, 1942
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Munich, Germany
Werner Herzog, one of the prominent figures of the New German Cinema era, has directed films such as Fitzcarraldo and Aguirre, and documentaries such as Grizzly Man. Named to TIME 100, he has written countless books and directed many operas. He was also seen playing The Client in The Mandalorian.

 31 Rashida Jones

Rashida Jones
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Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: February 25, 1976
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Los Angeles, California, United States

An actress, director, writer, and producer, Rashida Jones is a multi-talented woman who first gained prominence as a TV actress. A Harvard University graduate, the bright young woman entered the entertainment industry in the mid-1990s and has since made a name for herself. She is the recipient of several awards including a Grammy.

 32 Rob Lowe

Rob Lowe
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Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: March 17, 1964
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Charlottesville, Virginia, United States

An actor, producer, and director who first rose to fame as a teenage star in the late 1970s, Rob Lowe has been active in both TV shows and films. His public image and film career declined after a sex tape scandal in the late 1980s, but he has been able to resurrect his career successfully.

 33 Terry Gilliam

Terry Gilliam
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Famous As: Film director, Screenwriter, Actor, Animator, Film actor
Birthdate: November 22, 1940
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Minneapolis

 34 Paul Newman

Paul Newman
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Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: January 26, 1925
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Shaker Heights, Ohio, United States
Died: September 26, 2008

One of the most celebrated actors of the 1960s and 1970s, Paul Newman was a multi-faceted man. Apart from winning acting accolades, such as the Academy Award, he had also won many championships as a driver as part of the Sports Car Club of America. Also known for his philanthropy and political activism, Newman founded many nonprofit organizations.

 35 Kevin Costner

Kevin Costner
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Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: January 18, 1955
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Lynwood, California, United States

Actor, film director, and producer, Kevin Costner, is a much-decorated Hollywood with two Academy Awards and two Golden Globe Awards to his name. Even though he never dreamed of a career in films as a youngster, fate ultimately led him to Hollywood where he made a successful career. He is also a singer in a country rock band.

 36 Gene Wilder

Gene Wilder
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Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: June 11, 1933
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States
Died: August 29, 2016

Perhaps the most loved Willy Wonka of them all, Gene Wilder was one of the main reasons for the popularity of the iconic character, which he played in the 1971 film Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. Apart from acting and writing, Gene was also instrumental in promoting cancer awareness through his organization Gilda Radner Ovarian Cancer Detection Center.

 37 Alejandro Gonzalez Inãrittu

Alejandro Gonzalez Inãrittu
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Famous As: Film Director
Birthdate: August 15, 1963
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Mexico City, Mexico

Mexican filmmaker, Alejandro Gonzalez Inãrittu, is known internationally for his films about the human condition. Beginning his entertainment career as a radio host, he started composing music and producing films as the years went by. The recipient of many prestigious awards, he is the first Mexican filmmaker to win an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay.

 38 David Schwimmer

David Schwimmer
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Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: November 2, 1966
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Flushing, New York, United States

David Schwimmer is best known for portraying the role of Ross Geller in the hugely popular and successful American television series, Friends, which ran for 10 seasons from 1994 to 2004. He has also worked in films like Kissing a Fool, Apt Pupil, Picking up the Pieces and The Iceman.

 39 Oliver Stone

Oliver Stone
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Famous As: Film Director, Screenwriter, Producer
Birthdate: September 15, 1946
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: New York City, New York, United States

Oliver Stone is a filmmaker best known for his trilogy of war films, which he made based on his own experience in the Vietnam War, where he served as an infantry soldier. Known for making controversial films based on political issues, he is often criticized for misrepresenting real-world events and promoting conspiracy theories in his films.

 40 Charles Robert Redford Jr.

Charles Robert Redford Jr.
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Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: August 18, 1936
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Santa Monica, California, United States

Charles Robert Redford Jr. is a retired actor, activist, and director. He is credited with founding the Sundance Film Festival and was named in Time magazine's list of 100 most influential people in the world in 2014. For his contributions to arts, Charles Robert Redford Jr. was honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2016.

 41 Taika Waititi

Taika Waititi
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Famous As: Actor, Film director, Screenwriter
Birthdate: August 16, 1975
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Raukokore, Waihau Bay, New Zealand

 42 John Carpenter

John Carpenter
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Famous As: American film director
Birthdate: January 16, 1948
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Carthage, New York, United States

 43 Ben Stiller

Ben Stiller
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Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: November 30, 1965
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: New York, New York, United States

One of the most popular comedic actors of his generation, Ben Stiller is part of the famous group The Frat Pack – he has been described as the leader of the group, which involves names like Will Ferrell, Owen Wilson and Steve Carell. A popular and successful actor, his movies have grossed over $2.6 billion in the USA and Canada.

 44 Akira Kurosawa

Akira Kurosawa
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Famous As: Filmmaker
Birthdate: March 23, 1910
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Shinagawa City, Tokyo, Japan
Died: September 6, 1998

Akira Kurosawa was a Japanese filmmaker. Widely considered one of the most influential and important filmmakers of all time, Kurosawa's works opened up Western film markets to the products of the Japanese entertainment industry, enabling other Japanese filmmakers to achieve international recognition. Such is his impact as a filmmaker that he is credited with contributing to the development of Asia.

 45 Sally Field

Sally Field
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Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: November 6, 1946
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Pasadena, California, United States

An acclaimed American actress, Sally Field has won prestigious awards, such as Academy Awards and Emmy Awards. Apart from being a popular actress, Sally Field has also played an important role as an activist, advocating for gay rights and women's rights. She has been part of the board of directors of an international women's NGO called Vital Voices Global Partnership.

 46 Christopher Reeve

Christopher Reeve
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Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: September 25, 1952
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: New York, New York, United States
Died: October 10, 2004

Christopher Reeve had a flying start to his acting career as he played the iconic Superman in four films. Unfortunately, he became a quadriplegic after suffering an accident at an equestrian competition. Despite the setback, he continued contributing to the film industry and also founded the Christopher Reeve Foundation as part of his charitable work.

 47 William Shatner

William Shatner
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Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: March 22, 1931
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Montreal, Canada

Canadian actor, William Shatner, is best known for his roles in the television series Boston Legal, a legal drama for which he won two Emmy Awards and Star Trek, a science fiction adventure. He has also worked in many other sitcoms and films and has authored a number of science fiction novels. He is a singer and a spoken-word artist too.

 48 Emilio Estevez

Emilio Estevez
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Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: May 12, 1962
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Staten Island, New York, United States

Emilio Estevez is known for acting in movies like The Mighty Ducks, The Breakfast Club and Repo Man as well as Bobby and The Public, the last two of which he also wrote and directed. One of the members of 1980s Brat Pack group of actors, he has also directed television shows like CSI: NY and appeared in music videos.

 49 Mark Harmon

Mark Harmon
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Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: September 2, 1951
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Burbank, California, United States

Versatile stage and screen actor Mark Harmon is best known for his work in television series, St. Elsewhere and NCIS, and television film, The Deliberate Stranger. Initially a footballer, Harmon considered a career in law and advertising before eventually entering the world of acting. His big break came with the television movie, Eleanor and Franklin: The White House Years

 50 Banksy

Banksy
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Famous As: Graffiti Artist
Birthdate: 1974 AD
Birthplace: Bristol, England

Speaking to world through his spray paints and stencils, Banksy is a popular, though anonymous, graffiti artist. He has a unique style that includes stenciling technique and is known for delivering satirical political and social messages. With fans all over the world, this mysterious artist’s works are worth millions of pounds.

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