20 Things You Don’t Know About Steven Spielberg

When you get to be the world’s most celebrated movie director, you get to accrue a lot of things — from Academy Awards® to Facebook likes. But you also build up mountains of trivia. With Steven Spielberg, this information has reached critical mass. Everyone knows that the shark from Jaws was nicknamed Bruce or that Harrison Ford was cut out of E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (1982). So, to celebrate the release of the Steven Spielberg Directors Collection that gathers together eight of his classics for Universal Pictures on Blu-ray, let’s uncover twenty fresh facts you might not know about the most exciting filmmaker working today…

[dropcap size=dropcap]1.[/dropcap] Steven Spielberg cast his cocker spaniel Elmer in The Sugarland Express (1974), Jaws (1975) and 1941 (1979).

[dropcap size=dropcap]2.[/dropcap] If you went round Steven Spielberg’s house for a meal, he could only rustle up a couple of dishes: a matzo brei and a breakfast sandwich, “likea Big Daddy McMuffin.” “I’m not a good cook,” he admits.

[dropcap size=dropcap]3.[/dropcap] For E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (1982), Spielberg and screenwriter Melissa Mathison came up with the idea that E.T. heals Larry Hagman’s JR character on Dallas after he is famously shot.

spielberg+jurassic park[dropcap size=dropcap]4.[/dropcap]Spielberg wooed the late Richard Attenborough out of retirement to play John Hammond in Jurassic Park (1993) and The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997). But the director originally wanted him to play Tootles in Hook (1991) but Attenborough was directing Chaplin (1992) at the time.

[dropcap size=dropcap]5.[/dropcap] The mouse hero of the Spielberg produced An American Tail (1986) is named Fievel. Fievel is the name of Spielberg’s grandfather.

[dropcap size=dropcap]6.[/dropcap]On a childhood visit to the Kiva cinema in Phoenix, Spielberg and his pals mixed Parmesan cheese, milk corn and peas in a bag, dropping the mixture of a balcony while making faux vomiting sounds. The resulting chaos in the stalls caused the film to be halted. And the film in question was Irwin Allen’s 1960 version of The Lost World.

[dropcap size=dropcap]7.[/dropcap] The Sugarland Express (1974) was originally going to be called Carte Blanche. Other Spielberg working titles include The Rising Sun (1941) and This Boy’s Life (E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial) (1982).

[dropcap size=dropcap]8.[/dropcap]At the end of filming Always (1989), Spielberg presented Richard Dreyfuss, Holly Hunter and John Goodman with Mazda Mistas boasting personalised number plates suggesting their character names. The brand new cars cost $25,000 each.

[dropcap size=dropcap]9.[/dropcap]If The Incredible Hulk (2008) episode ‘Never Give A Trucker An Even Break’ looked familiar to Spielberg, it is because the show pilfered footage of Duel’s (1971) truck chase without the director’s knowledge. Spielberg ensured that future contracts demanded no other films or TV shows could “borrow” footage from his work.

spielberg-jaws[dropcap size=dropcap]10.[/dropcap]In Jaws (1975), when Ellen Brody calls her husband Martin aboard the Orca, the voice heard introducing the call on Quint’s radio is….Steven Spielberg.

[dropcap size=dropcap]11.[/dropcap]To direct the Halloween scenes for E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (1982), Spielberg dressed up as a bag lady for the day and directed the film in drag.

[dropcap size=dropcap]12.[/dropcap]While studying a Television Production Course at Long Beach State University in the ‘60s, Spielberg only received a C grade. Admitting the director’s low mark was due because he was far too advanced for the curriculum, course tutor Howard Martin said, “I wish it never happened.”

[dropcap size=dropcap]13.[/dropcap] Pity poor Marvin Antonowsky. The head of Marketing and Research at Columbia Studios believed E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (1982) had limited commercial potential.

[dropcap size=dropcap]14.[/dropcap] Spielberg chased Gregory Peck for the lead in Duel (1971). Jaws (1975) could have starred Lee Marvin or Sterling Hayden as Quint, Jon Voight as Hooper and Charlton Heston as Brody. William Hurt could have been Alan Grant and Juliette Binoche and Robin Wright could have been in Jurassic Park (1993). John Wayne point blank turned down the chance to be in 1941 because he thought it was un-American.

[dropcap size=dropcap]15.[/dropcap]Steven Spielberg plays the clarinet. He played clarinet in the beach scenes for Jaws and on the 1941 march “to make sure it was ragged enough.” At the end of the session, Spielberg served champagne to the entire orchestra.

spielberg-john-williams[dropcap size=dropcap]16.[/dropcap]The Sugarland Express (1974) marks Spielberg’s first collaboration with composer John Williams. The pair have worked together on 27 films and Williams has been nominated for 17 Oscars®, winning three times, for Spielberg’s films.

[dropcap size=dropcap]17.[/dropcap]The role of dusty motorcycle messenger Mizerany in 1941 is played by film director John Landis, director of National Lampoon’s Animal House (1978), An American Werewolf In London (1981) and Michael Jackson’s Thriller video (1983). Returning the favour, Spielberg delivers the last line — “And this is your receipt” — of Landis’ The Blues Brothers (1980).

[dropcap size=dropcap]18.[/dropcap]Other films by other directors Spielberg has appeared in include Joe Dante’s Gremlins (1984) (Man in wheelchair), Barry Sonnenfeld’s Men In Black (1997) (Alien On TV Monitor) and Cameron Crowe’s Vanilla Sky (2001) (Party Guest). He has also played himself in an episode of The Kids From Fame (1982-1984), Austin Powers In Goldmember (2002) and as a voice on a phone in Paul (2011).

[dropcap size=dropcap]19.[/dropcap]Steven Spielberg’s Jaws (1975) currently sits at 100% on reviews website Rotten Tomatoes. By contrast the non-Spielberg directed Jaws 4 — The Revenge (1987) is on 0%.

[dropcap size=dropcap]20.[/dropcap] Spielberg will next direct a cold war thriller starring Tom Hanks and written by the Coen Brothers. Following that, he will adapt Roald Dahl’s children’s classic The BFG, due out in summer 2016.


Steven Spielberg Directors Collection – Yours on Blu-Ray from October 23, 2014

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