Steven Spielberg Interview
Steven Spielberg Interview
You have seven children. How much do you think of them when you’re choosing projects, because they have themes that so closely relate to family. And secondly I would like to ask you, as you have so many projects, are you willing to work as late as Manuel de Oliveira, who is 103 and working steadily?

Steven Spielberg

Well I have no plans to quit. Clint Eastwood is one of my best friends, I’ve known Clint for 40 years and we have a great, almost a jokey relationship about retirement. Clint’s like 81 now, and I always say ‘Clint are you ready to retire this year?’ and he says ‘No, are you?’ and I say ‘No.’ I’m waiting for the phone call when Clint says he’s hanging up his spurs. That’s never going to happen and if it doesn’t happen for Clint, it won’t happen for me!

Yes I have seven children, and my daughter Destry had a lot to do with me directing War Horse, because she’s 15 now and she’s been competitively riding for I’d say 11 years. And we live with horses, we have 10 horses at home, and we’ve been living with horses for almost 18 years as my wife rides. And that’s another reason to qualify me to direct War Horse because I know horses. I don’t ride but I certainly know how to muck out a stable!
Would you say in a more philosophical way that the horse in the film represents us: common man?

Steven Spielberg

It’s something that I have thought about and talked about, and has been part of my thematic raison d'etre for being involved in War Horse. And you almost said what I have been saying over the last two years which is that Joey represents common sense. That if more people had the common sense, the common horse sense, of Joey, we wouldn’t be having wars. That was there the real underpinning for this entire endeavour. Good question.
When most people think about the sacrifices from the First World War they think about human sacrifice, and in the movie you certainly don’t shy away from portraying how the animals suffered, in their deterioration of health. How did you portray that without harming the animals, and also how much do you expect that the film will draw attention to those who are currently serving on the front line alongside animals at the moment.

Steven Spielberg

Well I certainly think that nothing was ever done to the horses to put them under any stress, that was very, very important to all of us. But the important thing about that was Bobby Lovgren who trained all the horses. He was the one who guarded the horses, who kept them safe, who protected them, and if I had a crazy idea he would say I can do that safely or I can’t do that safely.

We also had Barbara from the Humane Society who was there every single shooting day. And I said to Barbara ‘You’ve got the power over me,’ and she said ‘What do you mean?’ and I said ‘If you ever see an animal under any kind of duress you can say ‘Cut.’ And I gave the chance to stop a take or even stop a take from even being taken. But you have to understand that these horses were really really smart - horses are not given enough credit for being so smart. Topthorn was trained, and so was Joey at a certain point in the story, to walk with their heads down, which makes them look very ill, and they didn’t have to put weights around their necks, they didn’t have to do anything like that, they were just trained to walk with their heads down.
These horses were really really smart - horses are not given enough credit for being so smart...
The music is a big factor of the film. Can you just give a flavour of the day to day involvement with John Williams the composer.

Steven Spielberg

Well, John and I have had a 40 year relationship, this year is our 40th anniversary. We started working together in 1972 on Sugarland Express, and we start our next score in three months, Johnny scores Lincoln in three months. John is the most important collaborator I’ve ever had in my career, he’s made me look good, he’s made my work look better. I get a lot of credit but it really should be going to John.

I’ve kept the people in my career who I feel are my family: Kathy has been with me since 1978, Janusz Kaminski, my cinematographer has made every movie with me since Schindler’s List; Michael Kahn has cut every movie I’ve made since 1976 when we made Close Encounters together; Rick Carter has done 15 of my directed films as a production designer. I really believe in the family of collaboration and Johnny is certainly no less or no more important than that group of all of us, but Johnny does make a contribution that goes straight to your heart.

A lot of the contributions of my other collaborators you don’t really single them out for credit, although without them the film wouldn’t have the impact that they have. But John certainly has the most considerable impact because he immediately bypasses the brain and goes right to your heart, and that’s how it’s always been with him. He’s an amazing talent.

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Content updated: 14/10/2019 16:23

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