Martin Scorsese interviewed Steven Spielberg last week after a screening of “The Fabelmans,” Spielberg’s autobiographical story of his journey to become a director. The historical and rare dialogue, which was as entertaining and fascinating as anticipated, took place last week at the DGA Theater in Manhattan.
Video by: Rinaldo Caballero Guerra
Scorsese and Spielberg met in the 70s when they were up-and-coming directors, and they have an easy-going camaraderie that turned what was to be an interview into more of a conversation. Before they sat down the legendary filmmakers bowed to each other in respect. Although their movies are vastly different in subject and technique, it’s clear they have a mutual admiration and knowledge of each other’s work. Now both in their 70s, they are still at the top of their game and have an enthusiasm and zest for making movies that’s inspiring.
Most of the 30-minute dialogue is on the video.
Near the end of the conversation, Spielberg turned the tables and asked Scorsese a question. In a key scene at the end of “The Fabelmans,” David Lynch has a cameo as iconic director John Ford. Here’s the exchange between Scorsese and Spielberg:
Spielberg couldn’t resist asking Scorsese: “Did you like David Lynch?”
Scorsese: “ So tell the joke quickly, how did you do it with David? How did you direct that?”
Spielberg: “Tony Kushner’s husband, Mark Harris, when he heard I was about to make a phone call with this actor friend of mine, he said, ‘Have you ever thought of David Lynch to play?’ And a light bulb went off. It was an incredible masterstroke of an idea from Mark Harris.
So I called David immediately, who I know just a little bit, and David was really flattered to be offered, but said, “No.” He wasn’t an actor and he had other projects he wanted to pursue. He didn’t want to play John Ford because John Ford’s such a great man and what if he didn’t come up to those standards? And he just was kind of shy about that. But the one thing that we could relate to, which I think opened the door a little wider, was the fact that through David Lynch’s foundation, my wife and I got very involved in TM as a way of relaxing. And so we had been three years into the whole TM world and David found out on that phone call that I was involved in that. Bob Ross was our tutor.
I could tell he was leaning forward at the bar on the call, but he still said no. And so I went to my go-to person, Laura Dern, his best friend. I said, ‘Laura, help. I need you. I need you now more than I’ve ever before, ever before. You’ve got to talk David into doing this.” David’s promised he’ll give me his final answer in two weeks. We’ve made a deal on the phone. ‘David, can I call you in two weeks so you can tell me no and I won’t bother you again?” He said, ‘Yeah, call me in two weeks.
I said, “You’ve got two weeks to talk him into this.” I called him two weeks later and he answers the phone. He says, “Look, I’ve decided that I’m going to do this under one condition.” I said, “What’s that?” “I want to get the costume two weeks ahead of time to live in it for two weeks. I want to break down the costume.” And I said, “You mean you’re going to wear it?” He says, “Every day. I’m going to come every day. The patch, the hat, everything else send to me.” And he showed up that day in a pretty ratty costume. But it was the way John Ford was.
That scene happened to me and that was the first and last time in real life I met John Ford.”