Steven Spielberg, along with his divorced parents, sat for in-depth interviews on Sunday’s “60 Minutes” before the November 16 release of his upcoming film “Lincoln.”And, for the first time ever, viewers got an intimate look into the personal life of the Oscar-winning director, his anti-Semitic childhood and the strained relationship with his father that has influenced every one of his films.
Here’s what we learned:
- He still gets nervous when directing: “It’s just the kind of level of anxiety not being able to write my life as well as I can write my movies.”
- Steven’s mother, Leah Adler, was a homemaker and his father, Arnold Spielberg, a workaholic engineer. “Anything he wanted, we did,” said his mother. “Steve really did run us. He called the shots.” Added Spielberg: “My mum didn’t parent us as much as she sort of big-sistered us. She was Peter Pan. She refused to grow up.” As for his dad: “I missed my dad a lot growing up, even though we were together as a family. My dad was really a workaholic. And he was always working.”
- Spielberg was bullied as a kid for being Jewish. “I was a nerd in those days. Outsider. Like the kid that played the clarinet in the band and orchestra, which I did.” After the neighbourhood kids started chanting “The Spielbergs are dirty Jews,” Steven got revenge by sneaking out of his room one night to smear peanut butter on their windows.
- As a result of the bullying, Spielberg long denied his Judaism, saying “I often told people my last name was German, not Jewish. I’m sure my grandparents are rolling over in their graves right now, hearing me say that.”
- But everything changed at age 16, when Steven’s father gave him a video camera and eventually “found a way to accept myself. … I found that I could do something well.”
- When Spielberg was 19, his parents got divorced after his mother fell in love with one of his father’s best friends. “It’s still a mystery to me, but even though my mother was like an older sister to me, I kind of put her up on a pedestal,” Spielberg said. “And my dad was much more terrestrial, much more grounded, much more salt of the earth. And for some reason, it was easier for me to blame him than it was to someone who I was already — exalted.”
- 1982’s “E.T.,” centered on a boy and his two siblings being raised by a single mum, was based on Spielberg’s parents’ divorce—and would become a common theme in all of his future films.
- Spielberg didn’t think anyone would watch 1994’s “Schindler’s List.” “I did everything I needed to do to tell the story the way I thought the story should be told, to give it as much integrity as I could, never expecting it to make a dollar.” (The film went on to make more than $321 million at the global box office and win two Oscars for best picture and director.)
- Spielberg researched for his upcoming film “Lincoln” for over 12 years and it is partially inspired by his reconciliation with his father. “He was the father of a nation in need of repair and in a sense the movies I’ve made recently have reflected the positive relationship that my dad and I have enjoyed for 20-25 years.”
- “One of the worst things that happened to me was my voluntary fallout with my father and then the greatest thing that ever happened to me was when I finally saw the light and realised I needed to love him in a way that he could love me back.”
- Although divorced, Spielberg’s parents are still very close. His mother went on to marry his father’s good friend, who has since died, but his father and his second wife are still close with his mother.
- Spielberg decided to hold off on releasing “Lincoln” until after the November election because he didn’t want the film to become a tug of war about party politics. “I think the film is very relevant for today. It’s about leadership and telling teh truth, how you feel.”
Watch the intimate “60 Minutes” interviews below:Now watch the “Lincoln” trailer, in theatres November 16:
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