Steven Spielberg was one of the fêted panelists at a breakfast event prior to the Producers Guild Awards on Saturday. That morning, as reported by Variety, there was “beautifully pronounced” adoration for the 75-year-old filmmaking giant, and Spielberg also weighed in on his upcoming resumé.
In addition to saying nice things about working with women (“the smartest thing I do is hire women. I always have and always will”) and sharing a funny story about meeting the late Stephen Sondheim (“his dogs were sniffing my crotch, and I was afraid to push them away [as] I didn’t want to offend him”), Spielberg slipped in a comment that may break a few hearts.
West Side Story, he said, will be the last musical he directs in his career, though he’ll still be involved as a producer, he said. (He is a co-producer of the forthcoming adaptation of The Color Purple directed by Blitz Bazawule starring Fantasia Barrino, Colman Domingo, and Taraji P. Henson, as Variety noted.) But as far as sitting in the director’s chair, this is it.
“The worst day of the West Side Story shoot was the last day, because I knew I wouldn’t direct another musical,” The Hollywood Reporter quoted him as saying. If the director elaborated, neither industry trade magazine made note of it.
West Side Story is nominated for seven Academy Awards, including best picture, director, production design, costume design, sound, cinematography for Janusz Kaminski, and best supporting actress for Ariana DeBose. The website Gold Derby, which scrutinizes and analyzes awards races like Copernicus followed the heavenly spheres, currently thinks DeBose will win the trophy at this year’s event.
While West Side Story was a notable box office flop (its release came as the omicron variant reached its apex, which is a pretty good excuse), the film’s A on CinemaScore and 92 percent on Rotten Tomatoes are good indicators that those who saw it loved it. Of course, Spielberg can be said to have been a very “musical” director throughout his career. Think of the one truly great sequence in 1941, or heck, what’s the Indiana Jones truck chase if not a highly choreographed ballet between bodies and the camera set to music?
Either way, it’s not like The Beard has an empty dance card. He’s currently in post-production on The Fablemans, a memoir-ish film about growing up in Arizona with Michelle Williams and Paul Dano as stand-in parents and Seth Rogen as an uncle, with appearances by Jeannie Berlin and Judd Hirsch (likely the grandparents), plus David Lynch in a small role. It is his fourth collaboration with Pulitzer Prize and Tony-winning writer Tony Kushner, but the first in which they have co-written the script. Indeed, this very first-person project is only the third feature film Spielberg has directed in which he has screenplay credit. The others are Close Encounters of the Third Kind and A.I.: Artificial Intelligence. He shares a screenwriter credit on Poltergeist, which was directed by Tobe Hooper, and he has story by credits on The Sugarland Express and Richard Donner’s The Goonies.
He’s also a producer on another project in post-production, the fifth Indiana Jones film, currently untitled, directed by James Mangold with a script by Jez and John-Henry Butterworth, starring Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Mads Mikkelsen, Antonio Banderas, Shaunette Renée Wilson, and, oh, Harrison Ford.
After that? In a December interview with Yahoo!, Spielberg did tease that he has not yet made a Western.
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