TV actors talk about directing their own shows

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The real reason showrunners rarely direct

David Duchovny -- "Californication"

"As an actor, I sometimes lose track of my performance. Directing lends me a terrific focus. I had never directed before 'The X-Files,' which was big and cinematic, with action sequences. Into the frying pan, really. 'Californication' was the first time I (directed) flat-out comedy. Our tone is realistic, but also farcical and absurd. Someone recently called me 'a mellow perfectionist' and that's probably a good description of the type of set I like. I tend not to give myself too many takes as a director. Sometimes I won't come out of my trailer until I come and talk to me!"

Bryan Cranston -- "Breaking Bad"
"Directing myself is not the hard part. I always start with a compliment -- I find that I respond well to a compliment! ... I didn't want to throw my hat in the directing ring the first year. I wanted to get into the swing of it and see if I missed directing. Sure enough, I did. So I asked to direct an episode (of the) second season and then again this season. You don't direct tele-vision to satisfy your own vision. It's very successful if your showrunner says, 'Oh man I didn't expect to see the scene that way and it's great.' That's a bonus."

Ken Olin -- "Brothers and Sisters"
"When I started directing on 'thirtysomething,' I was relaxed about the acting, but it's harder (now) because I'm rustier as an actor. Frankly, I feel more like a director and a producer than an actor now. I don't act in much of 'Brothers and Sisters,' but I have to ask (wife and co-star Patricia Wettig), 'Patti, is this OK?' And she's like, 'Well, you have to relax a little.' I get nervous. She has to direct me a little bit."

David Boreanaz -- "Bones"
"With each episode, I let the creative process unfold. I always adjust to the actors. I learn from each shot I frame and each moment with an actor. I move the camera around a lot and find that brings the audience to these characters. I don't think about (directing myself). If I did, I'd lose my mind. You have to be able to compartmentalize."

Hugh Laurie -- "House"
"There is only one concern in directing your own show, and that's whether or not you can do the script justice. All other concerns pale in comparison. It's not so much the size of the challenges as the number of them. Grains of sand on a beach. They get in your eyes, your ears, your teeth, your salad. I think technically, you can't direct yourself. You can only act without direction, which is very easy to do, much like slipping in the shower and breaking your pelvis. That all said, I would absolutely recommend it. It's a thrilling experience."
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