HBO’s Spielberg Documentary: My Favorite Quotes

If you’re a director, writer, artist of any kind or simply a fan of the legendary Steven Spielberg, you need to watch HBO’s Spielberg documentary. I was so moved by the documentary, easily one of my favorite movie related documentaries ever, that I wanted to share my favorite moments from the doc. If you like what you read below and you haven’t seen the doc yet, get on it. It’s truly a must watch for anyone who appreciates the art of film, filmmaking, and the creative mind.

My Favorite Quotes

  • “Just trying to hold a whole movie story in my head is a very lonely thing because nobody can really help me with that. I have to see it before I film it.”
  • “The camera was my pen. I wrote my stories through the lens.”
  • “I didn’t know anything about whether I was gonna have a career or where this was going to go. I just knew that it filled up the time and it gave me a tremendous amount of satisfaction. And the second I finished a movie, I wanted to start a new one because I felt good about myself when I was making a film. But when I had too much time to think, all those scary whispers would start up. It was not fun to be me in between ideas or projects.”
  • “I identified with this obsession that Richard Dreyfuss was struggling with. I was Neary in that movie. Something opens up his imagination to go for something that he thinks is going to provide some cathartic answer. He had to go through chaos to reach some kind of clarity. He was an artist trying to plumb through the depths of his imagination.”
  • “How do you define a big kid? A responsible big kid or just an irresponsible big kid because I think you have to be responsible but you don’t want to lose the child in you because that’s what keeps you young and that’s what keeps you in touch and keeps a smile on your face. I don’t quite know what it would be like to become an adult.
  • “I was feeling my oats after both Jaws and Close Encounters and so I thought, ‘I could do a comedy! Why not? If I did those two movies, why can’t I do anything? And I have a sense of humor. I go to the movies and I laugh when they’re funny. Why not tackle a comedy? I felt pretty invulnerable at that time. Bob Zemeckis and Bob Gale wrote the script, and it was lean and mean. I’m the one that stretched the humor and the budget to its breaking point. To me, it was an excuse to just blow a bunch of shit up and try to get an audience to laugh. But it was like I committed a war crime by making 1941. Everyone was eviscerating it. I was really devastated. Just that feeling of failure, that cold emptiness, where every reminder of the movie, you get that sick feeling in the center of your stomach, and you just want to go dig a hole and stick your head in it. I mean, for the next year, I put my head in a lot of holes. And my friend, George Lucas came to the rescue.
  • “I began to deny my Jewishness, you know, began to deny everything that I had accepted as a child and was not willing to accept if it was going to make me a pariah. I was ashamed of myself. I still feel ashamed of myself even remembering that long stretch of my life where I didn’t want to be Jewish anymore.”
  • “All my films come from the part of myself that I really can’t articulate. I certainly have intuitive facilities, but I don’t really analyze those or don’t really question them.”
  • “I work with my peeps and I have for decades. I mean, I don’t know what I would do without them… I can’t really have sanity unless I have familiarity. And it’s just an extraordinary family that I’ve been able to assemble over all these years. Michael Kahn and I are blood brothers. He started with me on Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and except for one time, he’s edited every movie I made since then. Janusz Kaminski has done everything since Schindler’s List. But John Williams is my oldest collaboration and I depend on Johnny more than I’ve depended on anybody to rewrite my movies musically and put them a rung higher than I ever could reach.

On Mass Entertainment Not Being Art
“Sometimes I think that statements like that are pretentious in themselves because it sort of says that you know art is serous and art can’t move you, art can’t be on a bicycle with E.T. and fly across the moon. That that can’t be art.”

From the Stars 
“So he was basically telling me how to breath. And I remember sharing it with Ben Kingsley later on that night or the next day. I said ‘Ben, if every scene is going to be like that, I’m a fucking puppet, you know? I don’t want to be a puppet. I’m 41 years of age.’ And I remember Ben so well. He said, ‘A great conductor needs a good soloist. So just trust that. Just go into his direction. Don’t fight against it. Just go into it.’ And that’s what I did. I just opened myself for Steven, you know?” – Liam Neeson

“You know, me, I have a list, you know ‘Change Lightbulbs’ and that’s on there for a week. No, he gets a lot accomplished.” – Jeff Goldblum

Watch Spielberg on HBO, HBO On Demand, HBO Go, and HBO Now.