Truth and Movies

Steven Spielberg will get personal with a film looking back on his childhood

Michelle Williams is in line to star as a character supposedly based on the director’s mother.

Words

Charles Bramesco

@intothecrevasse

At age 74, Steven Spielberg isn’t showing signs of slowing down any time soon, but it seems that his work may soon take on a shade of the elegiac. It’s around this time that the great cinematic masters decide to make their old-man-in-repose movie (Scorsese, now 78, just did so with The Irishman in 2019), and it seems that America’s most popular populist is next up.

Deadline reports that while Spielberg continues to wait for the release of his completed West Side Story remake, the filmmaker has begun work on a new feature pitched at a smaller and more personal scale than his last few movies would lead us to expect. The as-of-now-untitled project will loosely adapt his own childhood in midcentury Arizona, when he first fell in love with the movies as a fresh-faced kid.

Spielberg will claim a screenwriter credit for the first time since 2001’s AI, sharing that distinction with cowriter and regular collaborator Tony Kushner. Though the details of the script remain a question mark, the language of the Deadline item suggests a less-literal connection between the movie and the real-life events inspiring it, making clear that the mother character will have a “separate and original voice.”

That role already has talent circling it, too: Michelle Williams has been floated as “in negotiations” to portray the mom who is not literally Spielberg’s mom, lest any of us read any psychological transparency into this. For the kid protagonist and his buddies, they’re looking at child actors of multiple difference age groups, so expect unknowns to fill out the junior cast.

Despite being immensely successful (or perhaps because of it), Spielberg has always erred away from the personal in his work, having famously shied away from Schindler’s List multiple times out of his own insecurity before accepting the gig. But he’s getting up there in years, and the man will only have so many chances to make his Amarcord, so good on him for seizing it when the time is right.

Published 10 Mar 2021

Tags: Michelle Williams Steven Spielberg

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