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Spielberg, Steven 2

Spielberg does it his way

From the June 11, 1982, Deseret News

NEW YORK – Stumping for a film is unusual for Steven Spielberg. But the reason he's doing it now is simple:

"I finally made a movie I liked!"

He quickly adds that he liked his other films, too, but he liked "E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial."

"I did go out once before," Spielberg explained in a hotel room in New York City to a few writers. "The only other one was ‘The Sugarland Express' in 1973."

"The Sugarland Express" was his second time out at directing a feature film, after the TV-movie "Duel," which was released theatrically overseas and was a big hit.

Third up was "Jaws," when he was only 26. Then came "Close Encounters," which he directed and wrote, followed by "1941" and "Raiders."

But "E.T." was a labor of love. "This is very close to my heart. I guess I felt that ‘Jaws' and ‘Close Encounters' could speak for themselves. I'm kind of like a proud father. This one is very special.

"I had a great time making it. I don't have the usual bad memories I've had making movies. This is how movies should be made. I've rediscovered the joy of filmmaking."

Spielberg said some of that had to do with the special effects working so well, as opposed to the shark in "Jaws," which he said never worked when it was supposed to. But more of it had to do with making a "little" film about people, and working with children.

He had no trouble directing the children in "E.T.," he said, because he didn't' talk down to them. "Directing the people in this film didn't require a lot of psychoanalysis about why they were supposed to do something. I got respect from the kids; I could beat them all at Pac-Man."

The extraterrestrial itself is the mechanical creation of Carlo Rambaldi, who created the creatures that appeared at the end of "Close Encounters." Several "E.T.s" were used for the character in the film, and they all worked perfectly.

The film cost only $10 million to make ("Poltergeist" cost $11 million), including the "E.T.," which Spielberg said cost half the price of Marlon Brando, and which is on-screen during nearly all of the film.

In fact, there are no stars in either of his new films, a policy he intends to continue using in the future. "I have a little problem paying someone $3 million or $4 million or $5 million when they're a part of the tapestry, a member of the cast, whether it's above or below the title. The movie's the star."

He said he has been offered $5 million to direct films, but hasn't raised his salary in more than three years, instead settling for a percentage of the film's profit. "Everybody should have a piece of the movie, and if the film's successful, everybody makes money. If the film's not successful, you've been paid well and you can go out and make something else."

He added that many stars carry with them a recognition factor that is hard to sublimate, "unless it's George C Scott, who is such a good character actor that he can convince you in five minutes that he was not Gen. Patton."

He said "E.T." postulates what might have happened at the end of "Close Encounters" if the creatures had walked hand in hand away from the Mother Ship and into American culture. "But it's not a sequel." The idea for "E.T." came before "Close Encounters" Spielberg said.

His next project is a four-episode feature version of the old "Twilight Zone" TV series with Spielberg directing one segment, and others directed by Joe Dante ("The Howling"), John Landis ("An American Werewolf in London") and George Miller (the upcoming "Road Warrior").

Then he hopes to have enough time to tackle his remake of "A Guy Named Joe," the World War II fantasy that starred Spencer Tracy and Irene Dunne. It will be called "Always." "I asked Irving Berlin if I could use ‘(I'll Be Loving You) Always,' and you know what he told me? He's 96-years-old. He said, ‘I can't let you use it, because I have plans for that song in my future.' We're still talking to him." Why "A Guy Named Joe?" "Because it's the first film that ever made me cry."

Then the sequel to "Raiders of the Lost Ark," which he said he can't discuss. "George (Lucas) could kill me. But it will be called ‘Raiders of the something, something.' "

A short time later, Harrison Ford, whose Indiana Jones in "Raiders" and Han Solo in the "Star Wars" films have made him a big star, walked into the hotel suite.

He and Spielberg joked around, and it was obvious that at least one big movie star was going to be in a Spielberg film in the near future.