It’s time to learn more about the man behind the movie magic.
When you think of famous directors, you probably almost immediately think of Steven Spielberg. The 75-year-old has directed some of America’s biggest blockbuster movies, from HEY at Jurassic Park, and won three Oscars, including two for Best Director. Spielberg has also directed a number of acclaimed biopics, including Lincoln, catch me if you can, and Schindler’s List. This month, the famed director turns the camera on himself, sort of, giving viewers a glimpse into his life with The Fabelmans, a semi-autobiographical story about his teenage years and early years as a director. The film stars Gabriel LaBelle as Sammy Fabelman, the character based on the director, and co-stars Michelle Williams and Paul Dano, who play his parents, and Seth Rogen, who plays a family friend.
Spielberg said SCS, “Each of my films is a personal film”, but this one, in particular, is close and dear to him – said Seth Rogen The Hollywood Reporter that he saw Spielberg cry several times during filming due to the personal nature of the film.
The Fabelmans is about a boy named Sammy, an aspiring filmmaker (much like Spielberg) growing up in post-WWII Arizona. He finds out that his mother is having an affair with his father’s best friend, a real secret that Spielberg himself discovered when he was 16, although he never told his father about it. He learns to channel his emotions through cinema.
The Fabelmans hits theaters nationwide on Thanksgiving (it’s already in some theaters), but his family secret isn’t the only thing you didn’t know about Spielberg until now. Here are six interesting facts about the famous director.
Steven Spielberg dropped out of college – but finished his degree later in life
From an early age, Spielberg knew what he wanted to do with his life and was already making progress towards his goal of becoming a filmmaker. In 1963, at the age of 17, he wrote and directed his first independent film, a 140-minute sci-fi adventure titled fire light, who later inspired Close encounters of a third kind. Not serious ! After taking an unpaid job as an editorial assistant at Universal Studios, Spielberg enrolled at California State University, Long Beach. (Another interesting tidbit: He enrolled at CSU because he was rejected from USC film school for below-average grades.)
But he didn’t stay at CSU long – in 1968, Universal Studios approached Spielberg to write and direct a short film that would be shown in theaters, Amblin’, which clocked in at 26 minutes. The studio’s vice president was so impressed with the work that he offered Spielberg a 7-year directing deal – making him the youngest director ever to sign a long-term contract with a major Hollywood studio – and a year later, he dropped out of college for full-time direct.
It’s not uncommon for high achievers to drop out of undergraduate studies – Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs left college before they graduated. But Spielberg decided to return to college in his 50s and earned his BA from his alma mater in 2002. The university let him enroll under a pseudonym so his professors could critique his work without bias, and they waived the requirement that graduates submit a 12-minute Film (they decided Schindler’s list more than met the criteria).
Steven Spielberg’s net worth was unaffected by Schindler’s list
Spielberg’s net worth is estimated at $4 billion, but there’s one famous movie he didn’t earn a dime for: Schindler’s List. The film, which stars Liam Neeson and tells the story of a German who saved Polish Jews from the Holocaust by giving them work in his factories, won Best Picture at the 1994 Oscars. received serious accolades for the film, it didn’t make any money: Speilberg told our own Katie Couric on The TODAY Spectacle that he felt it would not be fair to take advantage of it. “I did not take a single dollar from the profits I received from Schindler’s list because I considered it blood money,” he said. Instead, he donated proceeds to the USC Shoah Foundation, which he established in 1994 to film and preserve interviews with Holocaust survivors and witnesses.
Steven Spielberg has been diagnosed with dyslexia
Growing up, Spielberg had learning difficulties. He dreaded being called upon to read aloud in class, and says it took him two years to learn to read. Because of his difficulties, he was bullied by his peers and called lazy by school administrators. It wasn’t until much later in life that he finally got some answers: at age 60, Spielberg was diagnosed with dyslexia. Still, he told ABC, “I never felt like a victim” and instead befriended other students who didn’t quite fit in. And if he hadn’t had to overcome difficulties, he might not have become the filmmaker he is today: “I think making films was my great escape, that was how I could walk away from it all,” he said.
Steven Spielberg is the godfather of two famous actresses
Spielberg actually had some pretty prominent parents — his mother, Leah Adler, was a concert pianist, and his father, Arnold Spielberg, was an electrical engineer whose work helped develop computers. But while you may not have recognized those names, you’ve probably heard of her goddaughters: Spielberg is Gwyneth Paltrow’s godfather and was cast in the role by Paltrow’s parents when she was born. They maintained a good relationship over the years, and he even filmed her wedding.
He is also the godfather of another star: Drew Barrymore, whom he met on the set AND, when Barrymore was only seven years old. Barrymore says Spielberg became something of a mentor to her and was “always there for me.” He took on the title of godfather when she was a teenager.
He owned the sleigh Citizen Kane
Technically a spoiler alert, but if you haven’t seen this 1941 classic yet, we think the spoiler statute of limitations is long past. In 1982, Spielberg found the iconic balsa wood sled emblazoned with the word “Rosebud” from the Orson Welles film at a storage auction and, still the movie buff, bought it for his personal collection. However, he later decided to donate it to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, telling the BBC, “it belongs in a museum”.
He doesn’t drink coffee
You’d think someone who works that hard would need a little kick start, but not only does Spielberg not start the morning with a cup of coffee, he’s never had the thing. *Spits out our third cup of the day.*
But the man has a hot drink of his choice: “I drink at least a dozen cups of mint tea a day,” he once said. Empire magazine. That said, mint tea is naturally caffeine-free, so considering what it’s accomplished, it’s clearly superhuman.