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EW's Secrets of Spielberg: War Horse, Tin Tin, Color Purple, Harrison Ford, Gwyneth Paltrow

Photo of Jacob Combs By Jacob Combs | Thompson on Hollywood December 1, 2011 at 2:31PM

Steven Spielberg talks at length about his extremely long and incredibly successful career in Friday's Entertainment Weekly cover story.  This holiday season is a busy one for Spielberg: his performance-capture film "The Adventures of Tintin" opens December 21--it has already grossed $207 million mark overseas--and World War I epic "War Horse" premieres on Christmas Day. The filmmaker is already shooting in Virginia on his next project, "Lincoln," starring shaggy-bearded Daniel Day-Lewis as the eponymous president.  Here are highlights from EW's interview:
1
Steven Spielberg on EW
Entertainment weekly Steven Spielberg on EW

Steven Spielberg talks at length about his extremely long and incredibly successful career in Friday's Entertainment Weekly cover story.  This holiday season is a busy one for Spielberg: his performance-capture film "The Adventures of Tintin" opens December 21--it has already grossed $207 million mark overseas--and World War I epic "War Horse" premieres on Christmas Day. The filmmaker is already shooting in Virginia on his next project, "Lincoln," starring shaggy-bearded Daniel Day-Lewis as the eponymous president.  Here are highlights from EW's interview:

What makes Spielberg Spielberg:

"It’s not even about the career. I have shpilkes now and I have a career. I think it’s my fuel, basically—my nervous stomach. That’s what keeps me honest, right? And a little bit humble, in the sense that when I make a movie, I never think I have all the answers."

How Gwyneth Paltrow got her part in "Hook":

"We were driving back from the movie theater, and I was going back to work the next day. I was looking at her in the rearview mirror, and she was talking about the film and she had this really frightened look on her face, and it suddenly clicked, and I said, “Hey, you could be the young Wendy! You could be the young Maggie Smith!” So I turned around and said, “Do you want to make a movie?” She got a SAG card because of it."

How Harrison Ford responded to being offered Sam Neill's role in "Jurrassic Park":

"I went to the art department, and I had them do a photorealistic painting of the T. Rex chasing Harrison with two kids, and put Harrison’s face on the character of the archaeologist, and sent the script, the book, and the picture to Harrison. The next day I got a call, and he said, “This is not for me, pal.” That was the end of the conversation."

On meeting Kate Capshaw:

"The prettiest thing that came out of that film ["Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom"] was my future wife. I met Kate, my leading lady. My leading lady is still my leading lady."

Shooting on the ocean in "Jaws":

"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 decision. What we had to do was find open sea where you couldn’t see land, and where there was a 30-foot flat sandy bottom so the shark sled would have some place to rest. It had to be 30 feet, because if it was 40 feet, the shark could never get out of the water. We had a shark arm that only went up so high. The problem with shooting in the shallows 10 to 12 miles out to sea is that the shallows pile on the waves. You don’t get breaking waves out there, but you get some swells. So we picked the worst place in the world to shoot."

Criticism of "The Color Purple":

"I made the movie I wanted to make from Alice Walker’s book. Alice was on the set a lot of the time and could have always stepped forward to say, “You know, this is too Disney. This is not the way I envisioned the scene going down.” She was very supportive during filmmaking, and so I felt that we were doing a good job adapting her novel. There were certain things in the [lesbian] relationship between Shug Avery and Celie that were finely detailed in Alice’s book, that I didn’t feel could get a [PG-13] rating. And I was shy about it. In that sense, perhaps I was the wrong director to acquit some of the more sexually honest encounters between Shug and Celie, because I did soften those. I basically took something that was extremely erotic and very intentional, and I reduced it to a simple kiss. I got a lot of criticism for that."

This article is related to: Steven Spielberg, Steven Spielberg


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.