Spielberg on Spielberg

Many want to be the biggest and best in life, but if you’re an aspiring filmmaker and one day want to knock Steven Spielberg off the top of the mountain, forget it. 

There’s nobody who will ever be the best at being Spielberg than Spielberg. Love him or hate him, he’s had an unprecedented career as a filmmaker that will never be equaled.


With The Adventures of Tin Tin and War Horse coming out this season back to back while he’s filming Lincoln, Entertainment Weekly did a lengthy interview with Spielberg that covers his first short movie, Amblin’, all the way up to his current films, and it’s a film geek delight to read.

Reading the story by Anthony Breznican, I had no idea that Spielberg was a fan of the great 70’s gem Vanishing Point, which was also a big influence on Death Proof in the Dodge Challenger choice of vehicle, and which Spielberg drew inspiration from for Duel and Sugarland Express, as well as the ad campaign for Close Encounters, which showed a mysterious light appearing over the vanishing point on the road.


On Jaws, Spielberg recalled, “We had the hubris to shoot on the ocean, not in a tank. Had we shot in the tank, I don’t think Jaws would have been very successful because it would look really phony. So I insisted on open sea, but innumerable physical problems came along with that.” He also said he wouldn’t have the Roy Neary character go up in space at the end of Close Encounters today because he has seven children. “Directing that then, I had no dependents in my life at that time.”


On Raiders, he recalled, “There were a lot of crazy things in the script that came out of the ark. I wasn’t sure how much we could actually get on the screen. We made a lot of it up when we were in post-production.”

On Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, “It doesn’t hold the same candle up to the first film.” Goonies, which Spielberg produced?

“It was a very fertile period of cranking out stories about my generation. I started my family in 1985. It wasn’t even a last look back; it just was what I knew.”


I also didn’t know that Spielberg initially wanted Harrison Ford instead of Sam Neill in Jurassic Park, he even made up a painting of Harry being chased by a T. Rex, but Ford simply told Spielberg, “This is not for me, pal,” and that was that.

Spielberg also tells EW he was ready to do Jurassic with FX master Phil Tippett’s “basically go-motion Claymation characters.” Dennis Muren perfected the CGI we see in the film, and “It just rocked my world, because it was the beginning of a future that were are all almost drowning in,” the director says with a laugh.


In addition to many other terrific stories and memories, Spielberg also wants more Transformers with Michael Bay at the helm. “I used to buy my kids Transformers toys, and I’d wind up on the floor playing with them. I called the head of Hasbro and said, ‘Will you sell me the rights to Transformers? I think I have a way of turning this into a motion picture.’ I think [Bay] made the best of the three with this last one. I certainly can’t imagine anybody other than Michael being equipped to make another Transformers. He’s invented a genre, and he’s got the secret formula.”