Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Lucas vs. Spielberg 

Great piece on two Hollywood giants, and how blockbuster movies changed their friendship.
When Spielberg joined Lucas in Hawaii the weekend Star Wars opened, it was clear whose hour it was. Spielberg found Lucas in a "state of euphoria," bursting with news of Star Wars' first-weekend grosses. On the beach outside their hotel, Lucas built a sandcastle—to wish his film luck—while Spielberg and he fell to talking about their dream movie projects. "I said I wanted to do a James Bond film," said Spielberg. "Then George said he had a film that was even better than a James Bond. It was called Raiders of the Lost Ark and it was about this archaeologist adventurer who goes searching for the Ark of the Covenant. When he mentioned that it would be like the old serials, and that the guy would wear a soft fedora and carry a bullwhip, I was completely hooked. George said, 'Are you interested?' and I said, 'I want to direct it,' and he said, 'It's yours.' "

It's a beguiling image: two young men, carving out movie empires for themselves as they build sandcastles on the beach. The important thing to remember, though, is how sad and unbalanced their relationship was at the time: Lucas was very much the top dog, with Spielberg the humble amanuensis, gratefully accepting scraps from the master's table. When Star Wars did as Lucas predicted and stole the top spot from Jaws, Spielberg responded with a show of magnanimity, taking out an ad in Variety featuring the inscription: "Wear it well. Your pal, Steven."


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