An interesting half-hour long interview with Steven Spielberg has landed online, and it’s one that you will definitely want to check out. The interview was done by British film critic Barry Norman, as part of BBC One’s “Film Programme” series, with this one in particular being from 1990. Norman not only gets to sit down with Spielberg for an interview, he also gets to visit the production house for Amblin Entertainment. Norman manages to squeeze some interesting tidbits out of Spielberg: his brief attachment to “Rain Man,” his feelings regarding being snubbed at the Oscars, the risks he is willing to (and wants to take) as a filmmaker, and a lot of other topics hashed out in the interview which are still relevant today.
They start out talking a little bit about his decision to make “Always,” which now is one of the more overlooked films in his oeuvre. But more interesting is how he speaks of feeling regret for not being able to make “Rain Man,” the 1988 film starring Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman that went on to win Best Picture, Actor, and Director at the ’89 Oscars. Spielberg revealed that he had worked on the script for “Rain Man” for five months before having to pass it over due to his commitment on the third "Indiana Jones" movie. Barry Norman asks him about his feelings regarding the Oscar success for "Rain Man" and Spielberg actually argues that the film would not have received as much attention had he directed it instead. Even if he had made the film the exact same way as Barry Levinson did, Spielberg feels that he’d have carried too much baggage for the film to wind up being an awards favorite that year.
Norman then asks about his feelings regarding being snubbed for Best Director over “The Color Purple.” As you might remember, “The Color Purple” was nominated for 11 Oscars in 1986 but none of them were for Best Director. Spielberg admits that his feelings were hurt when he learned about the snub, saying that he felt like he was being left out of a club. But, he had since been able to gain some perspective over the whole ordeal. Of course, Spielberg went on to win Best Director two times later in the decade.
Overall though, it’s a pretty fascinating conversation. He goes on to talk about the early “movie brat” days, hanging out with Martin Scorsese, Brian De Palma, and George Lucas. He talks of wanting desperately to work with Dustin Hoffman (which he did the very next year with “Hook”).He expressed his disappointment over the commercialization of Hollywood and how budgets have increased dramatically since the days when he made “Jaws.” He notes that he could’ve made “Empire of the Sun” back in ’75 for $3 million, but in 1987, that number jumped to $35 million. Now $35 million looks like chump change compared to budgets Hollywood is working with today.
It’s great to get a glimpse into the mind of a highly successful filmmaker who was just about to enter the next phase of his filmmaking career. Be sure to check out the entire interview below.