This past weekend saw the cinematic glory of Resident Evil: Afterlife pushing past security to get into your local theater even though it was moving slower than an instant replay in a curling match. The absolute atrocity of this film raises a lot of questions, but one of the first and foremost is whether or not directors should work with their spouses in a leading role.
Paul W.S. Anderson, who thinks Milla Jovovich is as big an action star as Sigourney Weaver, is also married to Milla Jovovich, and while we can’t prove causation for the low marks in her performance here – we can certainly point to correlation.
We can also point to 9 more husband and wife teams in order to find out if working with your legally bound significant other is really such a great idea.
Joel Coen/Frances McDormand
Coen and McDormand met on the set of Blood Simple. which started the quality film ball rolling for both in a lot of ways. Maybe it was finding chemistry on a first project that allowed them continued success in the others, but Coen has directed McDormand in small roles to starring ones in Raising Arizona, Miller’s Crossing, Barton Fink, and Burn After Reading. These films all range in quality, but it’s Fargo that’s unmistakable as a massive hit for the pair.
McDormand earned an Oscar for her role, and Joel earned a Best Writing Oscar for co-writing the script.
Jean-Luc Godard/Anna Karina
It’s obvious that Karina was more than a wife to Godard. She was a muse. They first met when he wanted to cast her in Breathless and she refused because it involved a nude scene. She then acted in The Little Soldier for him, and the pair were married in the same year that A Woman is a Woman was released. From there, the love affair and the fantastic films continued with Vivre sa Vie, Bande a Part, Alphaville, Pierrot le fou, Made in USA, and Godard’s contribution to The Oldest Profession.
Their divorce was also the end of their partnership. Their careers continued, but she ceased to be his muse when she ceased to be his wife.
Sam Mendes/Kate Winslet
Each is an Academy favorite and incredibly talented in their own right, but the couple worked together for the first time on Revolutionary Road which earned them even more acclaim. Strangely enough, it might be the only time they work together (or at least as husband and wife) because after making a beautiful film about a marriage falling apart – they separated.
Tim Burton/Helena Bonham Carter
Although not legally married, they are domestic partners and have children together. That’s good enough for jazz, this list, and common law. The pair have been together since 2001 when they met on the set of Planet of the Apes – meaning Burton had to fall for her as a simian. She would be a bit of a muse as well, appearing in all of his released films after that point, including standouts Big Fish and Corpse Bride.
Woody Allen/Mia Farrow
This pair was never married either, but they (pretty famously) adopted children together and spent many years together. Then he married one of her children, so that’s another strong relationship connection, right? Technically, he’s also directed his wife Soon-Yi, but she was 15 at the time.
Back to Farrow, Allen has pointed to her as one of his muses (in a growing theme of this list). He also claims this about Diane Keaton, but she and he had ended their romance by the time they started working professionally so often with each other. Farrow starred in some of Allen’s best films including The Purple Rose of Cairo, Alice and Hannah and Her Sisters. She also appears in his slightly better than average films Broadway Danny Rose and Radio Days.
And now for some strong evidence against husbands and wives working together: