Wednesday , May 22 2024
Credit: Pat Cuadros

Nightmare Weekend: Richard Dreyfuss

About midway through Richard Dreyfuss’ (Jaws, Close Encounters of a Third Kind) panel at Nightmare WeekendGalaxyCon’s first horror comic con—the discussion reached a serious topic: The Shark is Broken.

On ‘The Shark Is Broken’

Dreyfuss and Robert Shaw both starred in Jaws, directed by Steven Spielberg. Ian Shaw, Robert’s son, and Joseph Nixon wrote The Shark is Broken, a play about the making of the film.

Nearly 25 years after the film’s release, Spielberg and co-writer Carl Gottlieb told a story about a feud between Dreyfuss and Robert Shaw. Dreyfuss said a feud never happened and he “revered” his co-star. “Robert Shaw was the largest personality I’d ever met. He was a great writer. He was a great actor, and I was his pal all during the film.”

As the only living member of the cast, Dreyfuss feels hurt by the initial feud story and its eventual inclusion in the play. “That was not the experience of shooting that movie. We all loved it and loved one another. For Steven and Carl not to understand that, it hurt.”

On George Lucas

During his career, Dreyfuss also worked with celebrated director George Lucas (Star Wars) on American Graffiti. While doing the film, he found Lucas’ style interesting. One day, after the actors rehearsed a scene around the car, Lucas came up merely to ask if they were done. At hearing a “yeah,” Lucas didn’t offer notes. He simply told the crew, “Okay, set up a camera here, here” to get the take and move on.

Dreyfuss admires Lucas for his generosity with a gross point before American Graffiti even reached theaters. “He took that one point and divvied it up among the 10 actors who were the stars of the film. I’ve made more money on that one tenth of one gross than on all of my back-end deals ever since.”

On Getting Beyond Our Sequel Phase

To Dreyfuss, by the time Jurassic Park came out, it marked a turning point for movies. Before that, viewers suspended their belief about some special effects, whether it was visible strings or whatnot. “It was fake. It looked bad, but you forgave it. Now after Jurassic Park, you didn’t have to forgive anything because they were making them too well.”

Photo of Richard Dreyfuss looking out to the audience during the Q&A
Richard Dreyfuss Q&A (Credit: Pat Cuadros)

These days, Dreyfuss said, we’re stuck in a boring period of sequels, a deluge of more of the same. However, he remains optimistic that we’ll hit another renaissance when a new filmmaker comes along to weave the magic and technology together in a better way. Those new movies will surpass what we have now by a long stretch. And when that happens, “movies will become something enormous and important.”

On Finding a Happy Ending

As for our current patterns of storytelling, he finds those problematic in movies. He’s looking for a certain type of story. “I’m longing for a love story that I feel was stolen from me. I want to see a love story that comes out of my heart and how I feel about love.”

Instead, movies of today carry a dismal mood. “We are drowning in dystopian bullshit in films that are always after America has failed and like that. It’s not good for us. It’s much harder to come up with a happy ending and one that makes you believe it.”

If we want to move away from dystopian stories, that will involve a lot of teamwork and great minds. “All the disciplines of art have to work at the top of their possible brain power and deliver something to us that costs them and us and is worth it. And that’s a happy ending.”

About Pat Cuadros

Pat Cuadros is Pop Culture Editor for Blogcritics Magazine. She frequently covers TV, film and theater. Her portfolio includes interviews with Ndaba Mandela and actors Juliette Binoche, Fran Drescher, Derek Jacobi and Brent Spiner. She's also spoken with notable voice actors Petrea Burchard, Garry Chalk, Peter Cullen and Brian Drummond.

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