Our friend Quint over at Ain't It Cool News was fortunate enough to snag 50 minutes with Steven Spielberg recently to chat about all things Jaws, which will be celebrating the 36th anniversary of its release on June 20th. We don't see many long-form, geeky interviews with Spielberg these days (mainly because the guy has been busy shooting two films and producing a lot more), so whenever we get something like this it's recommended you drop everything and spend the next half hour or so digesting what turned out to be a fantastic conversation. We posted five great Spielberg quotes from the interview below, but this thing is massive, and so you definitely need to read the entire thing over at AICN. Also, Quint posted the part of the interview on Friday in which Spielberg talks about the upcoming Jaws Blu-ray that's being pieced together as we speak (though no release date is set).
How Shark Problems Helped the Final Version
The shark not working was a godsend. It made me become more like Alfred Hitchcock than like Ray Harryhausen in the sense that Ray Harryhausen in his day could do anything he wanted because he had control of his art. When I didn’t have control of my shark it made me kind of rewrite the whole script without the shark. Therefore, in many people’s opinions the film was more effective than the way the script actually offered up the shark in at least a dozen more scenes that today is history.
On Working with CG
I think that CG is a tool that often becomes a weapon of self-destruction. I certainly have done my share of CG since I was at the forefront of the revolution as a producer of YOUNG SHERLOCK HOLMES, that had the first CG shot ever, and then JURASSIC PARK that the first CG characters ever. Jim Cameron in-between did brilliant CG work on THE ABYSS and then T2…
I’ve actually suffered from the wealth of riches that CG can give a filmmaker to almost over use the technology to get everything out of our brains and on to the screen when sometimes what’s fun is being denied your best ideas and then you’ve got to fall back on a compromise, which often turns out to be an even better idea. I fall victim to that, too.
Casting the Film's Hero
Casting sometimes is fate and destiny more than skill and talent, from a director’s point of view. First I went to Lee Marvin and he said no. Then I went to Sterling Hayden and he said no. Then finally David Brown, who had just worked with Robert Shaw on The Sting, and said “What about Robert Shaw?” I said, “David, you’re a genius!” And Robert said yes. That was a simple story, although it took six months to cast Quint. And I went to several actors before Roy Scheider. They didn’t turn me down, I just had decided they were not right for the part. I tested dozens of possible Brodys. I don’t want to mention any names because many of them are still with us.
Creating Characters Everyone Identifies With
Well, people who are at least touchstones to the human race, that anybody can identify with and say, “That could be me.” That’s all I look for in a movie that I go to see as an audience. Is there any character in the film that I can identify with; that I can experience these events through their eyes. That’s all I’m looking (for), somebody I can believe in.
Harrison Ford, who is iconic now, was so full of vulnerabilities in both Star Wars as Han Solo as well as then casting him as Indiana Jones, even though he was a big hero with a whip and a resolve to achieve all of us could identify with him. He wasn’t so out of reach that nobody could believe they never could become him.
On Why He Didn't Direct Any Jaws Sequels
Yeah, of course. Of course. And Jaws 3. I was done, I was done with the ocean. I would have done the sequel if I hadn’t had such a horrible time at sea on the first film. I would have absolutely jumped at the chance to own the sequel because I knew that when I was walking away from the sequel I was walking away from a huge piece of my life that I had helped to create, but it wasn’t a hard decision to walk way from it. I just could not imagine going back out to the ocean and sitting in a boat for 9 months. I just couldn’t imagine it.
Read the entire interview right here. How will you be celebrating the 36th anniversary of the release of Jaws?