Compiled by: Jack Foley
Q: Why War of the Worlds?
A: It’s just a visceral feeling that I have where
I go ‘I’m interested in this…’ It’s
a picture that Steven and I developed based on the War of the
There are elements of the book but now it’s a modern story
which we created with David Koepp [writer]. You look at something
and go, ‘I want to go on this journey..’ That’s
where it hits me.
Q: But the book has been around for 107 years, why now?
A: I just thought it would be great, very exciting. And
as a film fan I wanted to see what Steven is going to do with
it. I want to see Spielberg direct that movie and create his own
vision and I wanted to be part of that story.
I remember when we had finished Minority
Report and he was shooting Catch
Me If You Can and I was bringing him trailers and TV spots
out to him (for Minority Report) in the back of the car.
And we sat there and it was like ‘what are we going to do
next?’ And he mentioned three movies and War of the Worlds
was the third one and we both looked at each other and realised
that was it.
Q: How did it develop?
A: Steven and I had kind of worked out together what
we wanted from the story and then David came in and sat down.
And David is very fast – both Steven and I have worked with
him before (Cruise on Mission Impossible and Spielberg on The
Lost World: Jurassic Park). And he was like a man on fire.
He blazed out that first draft and it was the best first draft
I’ve ever read. It just flew. David does the research, he
looks at other things, and then it’s just coming out of
him. The script was economical and engrossing with a tremendous
amount of life. It was like ‘we have to make this movie
Q: What sort of input did you have into the story?
A: There were different things that Steven and I both
worked on. For me, having the guy be a deadbeat father, wanting
to make the picture about a personal journey about a parent with
his children and what that journey would be like, you know, if
that weekend the world is coming to an end or the world is suddenly
And this man who is ill equipped, irresponsible, a bigger child
than the real kids, you know how is he gonna cope with this? That’s
an interesting story to me.
Those are the things that Steven and I really talked about. I
wanted to make it a film that I could dedicate to my children,
which is about how much I love my children. It’s actually
a very intimate story about the family.
I wanted to play a father in a movie and be a character like the
blue collar worker this guy is. I lived in Jersey twice and David
really rolled with that.
Q: It’s one of the hallmarks of a Spielberg film
that he can deal with an epic, sweeping story and yet make it
personal and human…
A: Yes, you get to understand that the whole world is
under attack but it’s all from the point of view of Ray
Ferrier. Steven does that with his movies and it brings you right
into those characters and their stories and you really care what
they are going through.
Q: You obviously enjoy the
creative process with Steven…
A: Right at the beginning we sat down and said ‘OK,
how are we going to shoot this movie?’
And we kind of explored different ways to do it. And I said ‘this
story is about a family..’ Steven and I we feed off each
other and you know, he’s very inspiring to be around. And
the two of us, it’s just this creative combustion that occurs.
And when you have the opportunity to create with Steven Spielberg,
it’s very exciting.
Q: Were you first aware of War of the Worlds as a book
or as a radio play?
A: Actually the first thing I had heard about was the
Orson Welles radio play. I used to love listening to radio plays
– I’d sneak in and listen to plays at night when everyone
was asleep. I remember hearing of that incredible Orson Welles
Q: The book was published in 1898 and
yet it has managed to to stay relevant to different audiences
at different times..
A: Yes, when Orson Welles did his radio broadcast in
1938 it was to the backdrop of the Nazis invading Poland, the
threat of war. Then in the 1950s it was the Cold War. Great science
fiction has tremendous characters and is still relevant. It’s
dealing with universal themes; you know, what would happen? What
is man’s enemy? Right now, it’s man on man, forever
it’s been man fighting man.
Man killing man for territory, for beliefs, no believing. Man
trying to dominate man. But man really doesn’t recognise
the common enemy, you know?
Whether it’s drug addiction, illiteracy, criminality, immorality.
Those things that are rotting our societies at the core. That’s
what we all have in common. And that’s what H.G Wells did
with his book. He looked at what happens when man recognises a
common enemy. I re-read the book a couple of years ago and first
of all, he’s a great writer, the prose is wonderful, and
you just marvel at the imagination.
Q: Some of the great science fiction writers, like Wells,
were quite prophetic..
A: You know, often when we look at technology today,
it’s often always some artist who has thought of it beforehand
– like Leonardo Da Vinci and the helicopter. Look at Steven
Spielberg, the idea of the screen with the hands at the beginning
of Minority Report – that was right out of Steven’s
mind. We called it scrubbing the image. About a year, six months
before we shot the picture he brought me in and showed me this
idea. Now, in the newspapers a couple of weeks ago, I saw that
they had actually developed that. So when you look at great science
fiction it does have relevance, political relevance.
Q: And working with a director like Steven is to work
with a man very much in control of his medium…
A: Yes. I enjoy movies where I can get emotionally involved
and with Steven Spielberg’s films you care about the characters,
understand those characters and the story. Look at Close Encounters
That’s about a guy who goes insane. He leaves his family
and you think he is going insane but really he’s the sane
one because ultimately this is what is happening to him and it’s
outside other people’s reality. But you go with it, somehow
you are right there with this character. I love how Steven looks
into families, men and women, and how that reveals itself in his
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