January 2003
Catch Me If You Can : An Interview with Steven Spielberg

Interviewed by Wilson Morales

Catch Me If You Can : An Interview with Steven Spielberg

Itís not that often when a director has two major films coming out in the same year. Earlier this year, Steven Spielberg directed the sci-fi film MINORITY REPORT that starred Tom Cruise. The film was successful as expected. Spielberg has a flair for futuristic stories. His project is something of a different spin. Itís not a sci-fi, nor does it have a tremendous use of special effects. The film CATCH ME IF YOU CAN is a story about a boy who becomes a man by theft. Itís also his first collaboration with Tom Hanks and Leonardo DiCaprio. In an interview with blackfilm.com, Director Steven Spielberg talks about letting loose and how his own upbringing was a factor on the making of this film.

WM: Was there a sense of "Hey, I can cut loose" with this film?

SS: I felt I could really let my hair down with this one after I sort of kept it up for so many years. I felt like a relief pitcher, you know? - even if it is the World Series of film. I came in there, I wasnít offensive, I was open to the story, and I love Frankís story - I thought it was one of the most amazing stories Iíd ever heard and part of the movie a lark because some of his life was a lark, unfortunately at the expense of many others but some of this picture is important to me because it deals with what Frank and I both share which is broken homes. I ran away from home when my parents got divorced; at the same age Frank ran away when his parents got divorced, so I had that in common with him. Thatís why I wanted to emphasize in the picture to always remind people that he was doing this for a reason --not just because he could. He was doing this because he was perhaps trying to get his mom and dad back together again. Trying to certainly achieve what his father failed at. Itís like in ďDeath of a SalesmanĒ if Biff went out and did all the things his father really wanted and failed at it.

WM: Did your parents' divorce make a huge impact in your life?

SS: It certainly made me stop trusting permanence. I think all kids when they come from broken homes; donít trust people as much as those people who come from solid families. So I thought it had a lot of issues growing up, about whom could I trust. And if I like somebody, how long will that relationship last before that breaks up so I think that was mainly the main effect it had on me.

WM: What about your own divorce?

SS: It did, but I also felt that happiness - achieving happiness was the most important thing for me at that point in my life And I wasnít happy.

WM: How long were you away?

SS: Away - just for a summer. That was the year my parents divorced that I did the second thing - which Frank Abignale Jr. did for 3 years - I ran away to California, and I snuck on the Universal Studios lot dressed as an executive. So I think the divorce my parents empowered me to risk imprisonment for trespassing and being an imposter and so once again when I read the script and the book I said I had one moment in my life where I did what he did. And that was it because I so wanted to be a director - the passion led me to break the law. I was there for 3 months. My whole summer vacation. Mainly I couldnít get on movie sets because they had a closed set - they had a guard out there. I got on every TV show, I watched Leave it To Beaver and I met editors. Tony Martinelli, the editor of Wagon Train, told me how to cut film. I sat with Ronnie Pierce, the head dubber and watched the dubbing on the Ross Hunter film Send Me No Flowers; and basically I made it the University at Universal in the sense that this was my first film school.

WM: Can you talk about the dedication of the film to Bruce Paltrow?

SS: Bruce was my closest friend for 30 years. He gave my wife away at our wedding, walked her up the aisle. I met him when his wife Blythe was 8 months pregnant with Gwyneth so Iíve known Gweneth and Jake all my life and all their lives and he was one of my closest friends and one of my wifeís closest friends. He directed my wife in ďA Little SexĒ and he was the one who told her she should marry me and I should marry her.

WM: Is it amazing to you that Frank almost got away with it?

SS: Getting out of the Miami International Airport with a 120 FBI agents scouring that one venue--that was the straw that broke the camelís back. And when I read that I said ėAw. Man if thatís true, I gotta make this picture.