Steven Spielberg childhood

Steven Spielberg has found his next directing job, and it sounds like it will be his most personal film yet.

The acclaimed director is on board to co-write and direct a film that will be loosely based on his own childhood growing up in Arizona, and Michelle Williams (Manchester by the Sea, Venom) is in negotiations to play a character inspired by his mother.

Deadline reports that Spielberg finished post-production on his West Side Story remake last year, but since the film was bumped to a 2021 release, he has had plenty of time to figure out what his next project will be. He recently made the decision to direct a still-untitled film that’s loosely based on his childhood,

Spielberg will write the script alongside the Oscar-nominated screenwriter Tony Kushner, who has become one of Spielberg’s go-to guys over the past ten years. Kushner previously wrote the scripts for Munich, Lincoln, West Side Story, and Spielberg’s still-unmade The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara. Spielberg himself, though, has previously only written for three of his own directing efforts: 2001’s A.I. – Artificial Intelligence, 1977’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and he wrote the story for 1974’s The Sugarland Express. The fact that he’s going to be an active participant in the writing process is notable, and more than just being a piece of trivia, it lends credence to the idea that this will be a very personal project for him which mines some of his specific childhood experiences for cinematic drama.

Michelle Williams is currently “in negotiations to star in a major role inspired by [Spielberg’s] mom but with a separate and original voice.”

There is perhaps no other mainstream American filmmaker as closely associated with childhood on film than Spielberg. The Amblin vibe he cultivated through films like E.T. and movies he produced like The Goonies has had an immeasurable impact on pop culture over the past forty years, and we’re still feeling the reverberations of it today. Spielberg has always been very aware of the mythology that’s been built up around him as one of this country’s greatest filmmakers, and I wonder if he’s starting to think more about the idea of his legacy as he approaches his 75th birthday this December.

The director is reportedly looking to cast the remaining roles, “which includes children at multiple age levels, one of which will play the part inspired by the young Spielberg.” Production is slated to begin this summer, with an expected release sometime in 2022.

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