Legendary director Steven Spielberg is reportedly developing a movie based loosely upon his own childhood. Before becoming the most commercially successful filmmaker in history, Spielberg experienced an all-American upbringing in Cincinnati, Ohio, and later as a teenager in Phoenix, Arizona. Given the number of his films set in the suburbs and dealing with childhood, it’s fair to say Spielberg was heavily influenced by those early formative years.
Of course, when he later went to Hollywood and became a commercial filmmaker, Spielberg did not directly mine his childhood for material, instead delving into genre filmmaking with blockbuster movies like Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and E.T. For a time Spielberg was in fact criticized for being a mere lightweight maker of entertainment films, a reputation he finally shook with heavier dramas like The Color Purple, Schindler’s List, and Saving Private Ryan. After the turn of the century, Spielberg settled into a pattern of alternating popcorn entertainments like Minority Report, War of the Worlds, and Ready Player One with more topical films like Munich, Lincoln, and The Post. His next film to come out will be a much-anticipated remake of the musical West Side Story.
Now it appears the master storyteller of Hollywood is finally ready to tell his own story in more direct terms, as Deadline reports Spielberg is at work developing a film based loosely on his own childhood. Adding more clout to the production, Michelle Williams is reportedly in talks to play a character based on Spielberg’s mother, with more casting decisions to be made soon. One of the characters to be cast is indeed based on Spielberg himself at various ages. The famed director’s frequent collaborator Tony Kushner is co-writing the script with Spielberg, making this the first of Spielberg’s films since A.I. on which he will take a writing credit. The film is set to go before cameras this summer with a planned release date in 2022.
An Oscar-nominated actress in her own right, Williams is set to appear in the sequel Venom: Let There Be Carnage, the drama Showing Up, and the Peggy Lee biopic Fever. Playing a character based on Spielberg’s own mother in a film directed written and directed by Spielberg himself will no doubt represent an interesting challenge for Williams as she continues expanding her already impressive filmography.
Of course, when it comes to directorial filmographies, no one’s is more impressive than Spielberg’s. And to be sure no director can boast such an impressive track record at the box office as Spielberg (even if, in recent years, his films have not fared as well as in the past). It will be fascinating to see how Spielberg’s new, more autobiographical project fits into that filmography as he continues putting a capper on one of the great careers in movie history. Now 74, Spielberg perhaps feels he only has so many movies left in him, making it more urgent for him to finally tell his own story or at least a loosely adapted version of his story.
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