Seth Rogen on the moving set of Steven Spielberg's 'The Fabelmans': 'I saw him cry dozens of times'

Seth Rogen on the moving set of Steven Spielberg’s ‘The Fabelmans’: ‘I saw him cry dozens of times’

On Sunday evening, Steven Spielberg launched his very personal new film The Fabelmans at the TCL Chinese Theater, just steps from where his hand and footprints are memorialized in cement. The film, which he also co-wrote and directed, charts a lightly fictionalized version of his early life and his journey to becoming the world’s most famous filmmaker – and the family that helped him get there.

Michelle Williams and Paul Dano play versions of his parents, while Gabriel LaBelle stars as Spielberg himself, but goes by the name Sammy Fabelman in the film.

“It took me a minute to realize what he was asking,” Williams said. The Hollywood Reporter at the film’s premiere, which doubled as the closing night of LA’s AFI Fest, to receive Spielberg’s call to play his mother. “It still takes me a minute to realize where I am and what’s going on, it’s quite dreamy.”

Seth Rogen also co-stars as a close family friend and joked that when Spielberg first called him he was “worried about getting in some trouble, that he was calling me for yell at me for a joke. fabricated.” When it became clear that the call was in fact for a role, Rogen said it was “a very surreal moment.”

“I have friends who worked with Steven Spielberg and it was surreal to everyone I know, but also, the extra layer being such a deeply personal film, it was something that wasn’t lost on nobody,” Rogen continued. “There was a time when I went up to Michelle and said, ‘You worked with Scorsese, does that sound different from that?’ And she’s like, ‘Oh that’s very different. It’s a singular experience. Which made me happy that she checked out my feeling that that’s what was happening.

As the iconic director dug deep into his past for the story, Williams said every day of production was very emotional, which Rogen also confirmed.

“He was crying a lot, openly,” he said of Spielberg. “We would show up on set and he would just see a certain wardrobe piece or a certain set piece[oration] or everyone coming together to recreate a certain thing. I saw him cry dozens of times during the filming of the movie which was actually very beautiful and I think everyone really wanted to honor what he was doing. You saw how much that meant to him and how honest he was.

LaBelle added, “Sometimes we would all have a group hug after or at the end of the day. You could feel it, it’s a really personal project and it was really special for everyone to be a part of, so everyone understood. It was really very comforting.

Tony Kushner, a longtime Spielberg collaborator, co-wrote the screenplay with him, noting, “I’ve never had so much fun writing in my entire life. I don’t usually have much fun writing. The two worked on the film via Zoom during the pandemic in what started out as low-pressure fun. Sharing the chores, Kushner said he came up with the name “Fabelman” but told Spielberg he had to name his sisters and mother.

“Spielberg means playing in the mountains; ‘spieler’ is an actor in Yiddish, and a ‘spieler’ can be a speech or a play. I always thought how crazy this guy was, this great once-in-a-century storyteller who would be called Spielberg, play-mountain,” Kushner said of his thought process in naming the family. “I wanted to have some of that meaning, and I’ve always liked the German word ‘fabel’, which means fable. And because the film is autobiographical for Steven but it’s not an autobiography, it’s not a documentary, so there’s also a fictional element to it, so I thought ‘Fabelman’ was a nod to that.

Sue Spielberg, Anne Spielberg, Steven Spielberg and Nancy Spielberg are present

Sue Spielberg, Anne Spielberg, Steven Spielberg and Nancy Spielberg

Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images

Spielberg’s three sisters, who were also present at the premiere, were involved throughout the process in portraying themselves and their families. Kusher explained, “They were on set a lot, they brought all these things that belonged to their mom and dad and put them on set,” while helping the production designers recreate their childhood homes. .

“It was, in that sense, a family business,” Kushner added.

Inside the screening, Spielberg took the stage for a standing ovation, telling the crowd that after so many films premiered at the Chinese Theater, “I feel like I’ve left more parts of the body than my hands and footprints in the cement in front of this place, but tonight is completely different and that’s because The Fabelmans was a different experience for me,” telling the story of his own family.

He said Kushner urged him to “tell a story based on real people and real events that influenced the rest of my life so much,” which became “a character-driven story that I can only believe. hope it can be told to anyone who grew up in a complicated family – and there’s no family that isn’t complicated.

The Fabelmans hits theaters November 11.

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