Steven Spielberg on the Importance of Fear

Here’s why Steven Spielberg thinks his sequels aren’t as good as his originals:

“I go onto every sequel I’ve made and I’m too confident.”

Usually what happens is the first movie made a ka-zillion bucks – take, say, Jurassic Park. “I come in like it’s going to be a slam dunk,” Mr. Spielberg says of making the sequel, “and I wind up making an inferior movie to the one before.”

No. For Mr. Spielberg, fear is essential. And fearlessness is the enemy. He just doesn’t think he’s as good of a director if he knows what he’s doing each and every step of the way.

In fact, a typical day for him when making a movie starts like this: He’ll wake up in the morning, head to the set, and be sick to his stomach with insecurity. It’s not for lack of preparation. He laid good plans – great plans – in the safety of his office. But on set, that can all get shot to pieces by unexpected weather or an actor’s ideas or who knows what else.

“What the bloody hell am I going to do today?” Mr Spielberg will think to himself. “I have no idea how to attack this scene.”

And this lack of confidence, this insecurity, this who-knows-if-this’ll-be-a-slam-dunk, is good, he says. “Insecurity opens me up to any possibility.” And then “I’m more able to rescue myself by taking risks and doing things I didn’t know I was going to do when I woke up that morning.”

So, Steven Spielberg seeks out those projects that will scare him, that might not make a ka-zillion bucks, that he doesn’t really know how to do.

Because “I get to the brink of not really knowing what to do,” he says, “and that’s when I get my best ideas.”

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