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HBO’s Steven Spielberg documentary shows how personal even director’s blockbusters are

By in Press Enterprise on October 4, 2017

By Rob Lowman

Lore can become fact, especially in Hollywood.

As one famous story goes, a teenage Steven Spielberg sneaked off the Universal Studio tour one time, and then once he realized he could get away with it, he began sneaking onto the lot regularly, even setting himself up in an empty office and pretending he worked there.

In fact, the filmmaker tells the story himself in HBO’s “Spielberg,” the revealing new documentary from Susan Lacy.

So is it true?

“It’s potentially apocryphal. I don’t actually know,” says Lacy. “I think it’s absolutely true he got off the bus, but whether he set up an office? That may be apocryphal.”

Lacy worked for three decades on PBS’s “American Masters” and knew Spielberg from interviews she did with him about other artists. “He knew I wanted to make a film about him but wasn’t ready. Then one day he was and called me up and said he would do it if I made it.”

Lacy conducted nearly 30 hours of interviews with Spielberg for the two-and-a-half-hour documentary, which airs on HBO Saturday.

Others she spoke to include J.J. Abrams, Christian Bale, Drew Barrymore, Cate Blanchett, Francis Ford Coppola, Daniel Craig, Daniel Day-Lewis, Brian de Palma, Laura Dern, Leonardo DiCaprio, Richard Dreyfuss, Ralph Fiennes, Harrison Ford, David Geffen, Tom Hanks, Dustin Hoffman, Holly Hunter, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Ben Kingsley, Kathleen Kennedy, George Lucas, Liam Neeson, Martin Scorsese, Oprah Winfrey, and Robert Zemeckis.

Susan Lacy, director of HBO “Spielberg.”

Last year, Spielberg turned 70, and Lacey thinks that may have been why he decided to do the documentary.

In it, he talks about how approaching age 40 made him feel like he should be tackling more serious subject matter, such as his 1985 film, “The Color Purple.”

“For the most commercially successful filmmaker in history, the box office has never been what’s driven him,” observes Lacy. “I think […]    

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