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Interview: Steven Spielberg


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Steven Spielberg doesn’t need much of an introduction. His movies are literally woven into the fabric of our culture, they mean so much too so many people.

Steven Spielberg

So it makes sense that his latest project should take on a book of similar cultural significance, Roald Dahl’s classic children’s tale The BFG starring Mark Rylance and Ruby Barhill.

It make not have been the top of his film-making wish-list but Spielberg explained how the story has been part of his life for many years.

“I read it to my kids” he said, “I started to understand why it had become so popular…but I didn’t see it as a film back then, it was a way to popularise myself with my own family”.

His love of film and storytelling evident throughout his work, and Spielberg outlined why he has such love for making movies.

“I love that I am able to get into the habit of suspending my disbelief like every other audience member, and forgetting everything I know about how a film is made. Let a film that everyone else has made wash over me”.

In discussing The BFG in particular, however, he explained why the acting aspect was particularly special. “It’s very hard to deconstruct that intuitive tickle that I get sometimes…but the moment that I felt he (Mark Rylance) would be right for The BFG quite surprised me - it happened on the first day of Bridge of Spies and I just had that intuition…that he could really pull it off”.

Rylance has commented on how Spielberg’s fearless direction allows actors to produce their best work. There is an equal relationship between director and actor as they both have an equal part to play.

“I’m as much in the actor’s hands when I’m directing as they sometimes feel like they’re in my hands”.

Turning to his legacy, the discussion turned to pride. “I’m just proud that I’ve been able to stay interested in making movies all these years- I’ve met a lot of my heroes”. “I’m in my 70th year” he continued, “and I feel like I don’t get tired- I shouldn’t, I don’t. I love what I do”.

“Before the digital revolution you needed to use your imagination…with the digital revolution today there is no limit to what you can create. You can literally put anything on the screen”, he continued.

And this fact is why a tale like The BFG can be brought to the big screen with a mix of live-action and digital trickery bringing the boundless imagination of Dahl’s tale to life.

Nevertheless, he noted that he hopes that the real success of The BFG is that hopefully “you’ll forget there are any special effects at all”.

In the presence of such a successful director, it is difficult not to wonder what makes them so successful, and Spielberg rightly noted, “If I really knew the answer to that question a lot of new directors would be able to get jobs tomorrow”.

However, he gave credit to the great work of the past. He explained that his “predecessors”, the people who “whether we know it or not, we are learning from, and upon whose shoulders we stand”.

He explained that looking back allows him to see what makes a good story, and that you have to “respect all movies that have been made over all these years”. Not everyone seems to appreciate these words of wisdom though, “I used to have to pay my kids ten dollars to watch a black and white movie- I had to bribe them!”.

Spielberg’s passion for his work is enormously clear, which is probably the reason for his success all these years, and is hopefully evident in The BFG.

The BFG, is in cinema on 22nd July 2016.

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