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Steven Spielberg Says ‘The Fabelmans’ Is So Personal It Was ‘Hard To Get Through’

'The Fabelmans' is Steven Spielberg's newest film. The semi-autobiographical film was "a very daunting experience" due to the weight of "responsibility" being felt by Spielberg....
Credit: Amanda Edwards/Getty Images

Steven Spielberg is an acclaimed director with a string of classics under his belt from Jaws to Schindler’s List. Despite this, his recent efforts haven’t been met with the same enthusiasm as they used to, that is until West Side Story (2021) was nominated for seven Academy Awards. But while that film was critically acclaimed it was a box office bomb. Spielberg is going a lot smaller on his newest film, The Fabelmans, a semi-autobiographical film that is once again generating a lot of Oscar buzz.

The semi-autobiographical nature of the film meant that Spielberg had to dig deep to pull it off. The film tells the story of Sammy Fabelman, a boy who loves moviemaking, but conflicts within his family means he has to fight to keep his dream alive.

During a press conference at the Toronto International Film Festival, Spielberg explained that he thought making The Fabelmans “would be a lot easier than it turned out to be because I know the material and I’ve known the characters for my entire life.”

This didn’t turn out to be true as he found this “a very daunting experience because I was attempting in a semi-autobiographical way to recreate huge recollections not only in my life but in the lives of my three sisters, my mother and father who are no longer with us. The responsibility of that began to build.”

Spielberg joked that his co-writer, Pulitzer Prize-winning Tony Kushner, was his “therapeutic counsellor in getting this out of me.”

Why was this all so difficult for Spielberg? He explained:

“As we started working on this, I realised there was no aesthetic distance between me and this experience; I wasn’t able to put a camera the way Sammy is able to put a camera between himself and the horrible, realistic things that are happening to him. And I’ve always been able to put a camera between myself and reality to protect myself and I couldn’t do it telling this story. As the cast knows, it was emotionally a very difficult experience. Not all of it. But some of it was very, very hard to get through.”

The Fabelmans stars Seth Rogen, Judd Hirsch, Michelle Williams, and Gabriel LaBelle. It is expected to be released November 23, 2022.

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