“I never felt he really got the recognition for being what I call a personal filmmaker,” reveals “Spielberg” director Susan Lacy. As a documentarian, Lacy has always been fascinated by “that connection between the life and the work,” so in crafting this biographical look at Steven Spielberg‘s career, she “wanted to find Steven in those films that he’s made.” Now the HBO film has received an Emmy nomination for Best Documentary or Nonfiction Special. Watch our exclusive video interview with Lacy above.
While Lacy wouldn’t call Spielberg “an autobiographical filmmaker,” she believes “his choices are very personal to him.” Whether it’s blockbusters like “Jaws” (1975), “Raiders of the Lost Ark” (1981) and “E.T.” (1982), or historical dramas like “Schindler’s List” (1993), “Saving Private Ryan” (1998) and “Lincoln” (2012), “there are themes” that reoccur in his work, such as “childhood, outsider-ness, broken families, father-son difficulties.”
Spielberg’s life and work changed dramatically after “Schindler’s List.” “He’s a different filmmaker after that,” Lacy explains. “He’s a family man, he takes the responsibility of being the most famous and successful filmmaker in the world seriously, and the things he became interested in changed.” Lacy believes that the central question of Spielberg’s life post-“Schindler’s List” has been “how am I going to use my influence now to make films about things I think are important, and still not lose the boyhood wonder that goes into something like ‘Jurassic Park’?”
Lacy has also directed the upcoming documentary “Jane Fonda in Five Acts,” which recounts the many transformations of two-time Oscar winner Jane Fonda (“Klute” and “Coming Home”). The filmmaker admits she has been enthralled with the actress and activist since reading her 2005 autobiography “My Life So Far.” “I was struck by how honest she was,” she says, “and what a, frankly, difficult journey she had gone through in her life.” Instead of making a film about a movie star, Lacy hoped to tell a story “about a woman who had gone through a lot of stuff to get to where she is today, who had an understanding that if she didn’t explore her past, she would not know how to go forward.”
Lacy is a 14-time Emmy winner for the nonfiction series “American Masters.” For that long-running program she has directed films about such figures as Rod Serling, Judy Garland, David Geffen, Joni Mitchell, and Leonard Bernstein. She’s also a two-time Grammy winner for directing the music documentary “Lou Reed: Rock and Roll Heart” (1999) and for producing “No Direction Home: Bob Dylan” (2006).
“Jane Fonda in Five Acts” premieres on HBO on September 24.
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