Steven Spielberg on Family

The legendary director talks about the importance of family, especially when balancing it against a successful career.

He has directed 26 films that have amassed over $3.7 billion in box office receipts; he has successfully tackled science fiction, adventure, comedy, drama, and war genres; he has three Academy Awards; Forbes places his personal net worth at around $3 billion; he has been called “the most powerful figure in the motion picture industry”, “one of the 100 most important people of the century”, and “the most influential person of his generation.” In terms of accomplishment and influence, there are very few that can match Steven Spielberg.

Given the relationship warzone that is Hollywood, you would expect someone as successful as Spielberg to have a past littered with the corpses of failed marriages and foolish romances. Around 50% of all marriages in America end in divorce, but you have to believe that number is a bit higher for celebrity marriages that feature personal net worths of $3 billion.

Not so for Steven Spielberg. Although his marriage to actress Kate Capshaw was his second, he tied that knot 26 years ago and hasn’t looked back since. “It’s not a pretty sight,” Spielberg said in a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly of his least favorite Indiana Jones film, The Temple of Doom. “The prettiest thing that came out of that film was my future wife. I met Kate, my leading lady. My leading lady is still my leading lady.”

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Family has always played a central role in Spielberg’s life and career. Even the absence of family has influenced his directing decisions. In Close Encounters of the Third Kind, the main character, played by Richard Dreyfus, becomes so obsessed with UFOs that he abandons his wife and three children. “I’ve always said I wouldn’t do it if I was making the movie from scratch today, because I have seven children. I had no hesitation writing that and directing that then, but I had no dependents in my life at that time.“

His latest film, War Horse, also has deep roots in his family life. “He was nervous,” says longtime collaborator and War Horse producer Kathleen Kennedy of Spielberg’s approach to the project. “Knowing that Kate and Destry, his wife and daughter, and the fact that they love horses so much, I think Steven felt a responsibility to get this right.”

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