• Sun. Oct 24th, 2021

'Jaws' Star Richard Dreyfuss Says He Thought Steven Spielberg's 'Little Movie' Would Fail

Oct 7, 2021

Jaws is coming to Netflix. Again, Jaws is coming to Netflix. It bears repeating, because this is big news. Decades after it was filmed on a windy Massachusetts beach, Jaws is still a big deal in film. Special effects have improved tenfold since Steven Spielberg made the movie, but it is still just as scary as it was back then. That’s even without most of the effects Spielberg wanted in the movie. When the animatronic sharks Spielberg had made for the film arrived on set, some of them stopped working. Spielberg had to improvise, and make many of the scariest scenes without the shark. Luckily, that made them even scarier. Naturally, Jaws became a franchise, but according to ScreenRant, star Richard Dreyfuss didn’t want anything to do with the sequels. 

‘Jaws’ became a franchise 

Dreyfuss played Matt Hooper, the young scientist brought in to find the killer shark. In the first Jaws, Hooper was essentially the main character. Dreyfuss could have starred in all the subsequent Jaws movies but decided against it. He wasn’t the only one. Spielberg was against a sequel, and refused to direct it. Universal was undeterred, even when they had to replace their replacement director in the beginning of the project. 

With Spielberg out, Dreyfuss decided the Jaws 2 project wasn’t right for him. According to Yahoo!, he didn’t always have an easy time on the set of the original Jaws. His costar, Robert Shaw, was often difficult to work with. But Spielberg’s leadership apparently made the set bearable. Dreyfuss refused to return without Spielberg. Instead, the two went on to work together on a new movie, Close Encounters of a Third Kind. 

Richard Dreyfuss didn’t think the movie had potential 

After Jaws, Dreyfuss was hooked on Spielberg. The two went on to work together again, despite not wanting to work together in the beginning of Jaws. Spielberg was considering a long list of other, more veteran actors for the part of Hooper. However, he cast Dreyfuss on the advice of his friend, George Lucas. Lucas had just worked with Dreyfuss on American Graffiti. 

For his part, Dreyfuss wasn’t very excited about working with Spielberg on Jaws either. Spielberg was untested, and Dreyfuss just didn’t think the project had legs. According to Yahoo!, Dreyfuss wasn’t afraid to admit he was wrong. After the film became a success, he was happy to tell others that he just didn’t believe in it at first. “So when the film was released, I found myself going back to the talk shows and saying, ‘I’m the guy who didn’t believe in it.’”

The ‘Jaws’ set wasn’t an easy place for Richard Dreyfuss 

According to Dreyfuss, and basically everyone on the set of Jaws, tensions were high between Shaw and Dreyfuss. Yahoo! claims that Dreyfuss himself admits that Shaw was a sweetheart in most instances. “While privately, Shaw was the gentlest, funniest guy,” as soon as the two got on set, Shaw became a different person. 

Even Spielberg said things got ugly. Yahoo! reports Spielberg witnessed Shaw take a glass from Dreyfuss and throw it out the window. Roy Scheider, who played Brody, recalled Shaw getting on Dreyfuss about his weight. “Shaw would say, ‘Look at you, Dreyfuss. You eat and you drink and you’re fat and you’re sloppy. At your age, that’s criminal. Why, you couldn’t even do 10 good push-ups.’” Shaw also refused to appear in the Jaws sequels. Shaw’s turbulent relationship with Dreyfuss didn’t play into his refusal to reprise the role of Hooper in the Jaws franchise. 

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