Steven Spielberg remembers the first time he saw Michelle Williams and Paul Dano dressed as his parents on set for The Fables.
During a sit-down with Colbert in a rare late-night interview on The Late Show with Stephen Colbertwhich aired Thursday, the Oscar-winning filmmaker explained how a “routine” first day of filming his personal and now Oscar-nominated film turned into an emotional one.
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“Mark Bridges (costume designer) came up to me and said, ‘I’ve got Paul and Michelle here in their hair and makeup and costumes,'” he recalls, adding that he had seen them separately in their costumes, but not together. “I turned around and there were my mom and dad, and I just burst into tears. I didn’t even think about it, it just happened.”
The award-winning film is based on Spielberg’s childhood as he grew up as an aspiring filmmaker. The film follows the journey of Sammy Fabelman (Gabriel LaBelle), but along the way he discovers a shattering family secret and uses his passion for film to help reveal the truth.
The Saving Private Ryan director and producer said Williams and Dano quickly offered him love and support at the time: “Michelle ran over and hugged me. Paul came after me – he is very tall – hugged me around the shoulders and just held me.
“I had given them [Williams and Dano] speeches long before the first day of recording. I got all my tears out of writing the scripts with Tony Kushner,” Spielberg added. “I am a professional. [I told them,] ‘Don’t worry about me. You don’t have to take care of me. It’s my job to take care of you and guide you to great performances.’ And it was not to be.”
The Fables has been nominated for seven Oscars, including Best Picture.
Also during the sit-down interview with Colbert, Spielberg discussed his path to bringing The Fables and reflect on his iconic work spanning more than 50 years in film. The Jewish filmmaker also weighed in on the rise of public anti-Semitism in both the US and around the world.
“Since Germany in the 1930s, I have not seen anti-Semitism no longer lurking, but standing proudly with its hands on its hips, like Hitler and Mussolini, challenging us to defy it. I have never experienced this in my entire life, especially in this country,” he said.
Referring specifically to 2014, 2015 and 2016, Spielberg noted that “hate became a kind of membership in a club that has gained more members than I ever thought possible in America. And hate and anti-Semitism go hand in hand, you can call it a not separate from the other.”
Calling Spielberg one of the greatest communicators in the world, the host asked the movie legend for a counter-message to that hatred, asking what gives him hope that it won’t work out.
‘Without making a naive portrait of myself sitting here talking to you, and to quote Anne Frank: I think she’s right when she said there’s something good in most people. She saw the good in most people,” he said. “And I think, fundamentally, at our core is kindness and empathy.”
March 3, 6:50 am This story has been updated with a second clip from Spielberg’s Jacket interview.
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