The director steps in front of the camera to hold forth on his life and silver-screen magic in a new feature-length documentary
Those viewers who believe Spielberg was born with a scoop of royal jelly that made his rise to fame and fortune a cakewalk will soon be disavowed of this notion.
“I tried very hard to get into USC [University of Southern California] film school, and I just didn’t have the grades to get in,” he says, “and I realised that this was going to be what I was going to do. Or I was going to die trying.”
The woman who finally twisted his arm to speak up is famed documentarian Susan Lacy, who spent decades with PBS as the creator of the American Masters biography series, before jumping to HBO. During 17 interview sessions totalling more than 30 hours, she enjoyed free rein to ask Spielberg all the questions we have ever wondered about – with no strings attached.
“He in no way tried to steer this film; he did not see it until it was finished,” Lacy says. “We did not talk about what I was going to do and wasn’t going to do.
“I’m a very in-depth interviewer. We were still deeply in childhood after two hours. He’s very shy about interviews; he does very few. [It’s] quite an extraordinary experience to hear him really open up.”
Spielberg’s interviews were only the tip of Lacy’s iceberg of inquiry. Also appearing on screen are a veritable who’s who of Hollywood: J J Abrams, Christian Bale, Drew Barrymore, Cate Blanchett, Francis Ford Coppola, Daniel Craig, Daniel Day-Lewis, Brian De Palma, Laura Dern, Leonardo DiCaprio, Richard Dreyfuss, Ralph Fiennes, Harrison Ford, David Geffen, Tom Hanks, Dustin Hoffman, Holly Hunter, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Ben Kingsley, Kathleen Kennedy, George Lucas, Liam Neeson, Martin Scorsese, Oprah Winfrey and Robert Zemeckis.
“You think of that young kid one day sneaking his way into a studio and manifesting his own destiny,” DiCaprio says. “It’s a pretty fantastic Hollywood story.”
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