Spielberg, A Nervous Wreck

Director Steven Spielberg, 65, more than anyone in the film industry, can afford to take risks on ideas, projects, fantasies. He seems to have carte blanche to turn whatever he touches into gold. His films include Jaws, E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, Jurassic Park, Schindler’s List, Saving Private Ryan, The Color Purple and now War Horse. He has won three Oscars and his films have grossed more than $8-billion.

He lives with his second wife, actress Kate Capshaw, and seven children in California and is a founder member of the DreamWorks film studio. His latest film, War Horse, is based on the hit stage show (adapted from Michael Morpurgo’s novel) which used lifesize puppets made by South Africa’s Handspring Puppet Company.

War Horse came when I least expected to be suddenly launching into a story about World War1 and a relationship between a horse and every human being this horse touches and changes. For me it was a more creative alternative to simply depicting the horrors of combat.

I would love some day to do a musical, because I have never done one. I loved the golden era of Hollywood musicals.

I was a different filmmaker before I had children than I am now, when I have seven children. I love having children around. You never know what will happen. It was through the friendship of my wife Kate with Tom Hanks’s wife (actress Rita Wilson), who met through our children, that I linked up with Hanks.

I like to work with a team of friends and always have. I am first and foremost a storyteller and I don’t think my techniques have changed for getting a damned good story to the screen. I’ve stayed collaborative my entire career because I don’t have all the answers.

I do think I have discovered more courage as a cineaste now than when I was younger and had more fear.

I was born a nervous wreck and as I get older, I get wiser, but I’m no calmer.

I have been movie-crazy all my life and made my first film at 14 (Escape to Nowhere), so I have had time to work through the fear stuff. I definitely have less fear as I get older. The older you get, the more courage you get, so there is hope.

I learnt early on that film was power. I remember at high school there was a bully who used to make anti-Semitic slurs at me. I was afraid of him, but I asked him to be in my movie. Using the camera, I discovered I had a tool and a weapon – what an instrument of self-inspection and self-expression it is.

I was always drawn to stories because I wanted to be the centre of attention. I needed to stand out.

I’ve always kept myself open for surprises. I don’t plot or plan.

My two great loves are family and making movies. Balancing the two is life’s biggest challenge.

My philosophy, now, is that every single movie is a signpost of its time, and it should stand for that. We shouldn’t go back and change the parting of the Red Sea in Cecil B DeMille’s The Ten Commandments just because the digital tools we now have can make it even more spectacular than it was.

What I’ve learnt from a life going to the cinema is that popcorn puts on more weight than cheese-smothered nachos. Popcorn is the bane of my life.

I learnt from my Dad to listen to others and from my Mom that if you’re having a bad day today, you are more than likely to have a better one tomorrow.

We need so much more tolerance in the world. I have been deeply shocked, watching the news over the years, by the various hostage tragedies, the terrorists who came into schools, the suicide bombers and worse. They are the most extraordinary and unnecessary tragedies in life.

By Marion Gray -Lifestyle