With his new take on West Side Story in the can awaiting release, Steven Spielberg is ready to get back behind the camera, and to that end, he’s set to co-write and direct a coming-of-age movie inspired by his own childhood in Arizona.
Four-time Oscar nominee Michelle Williams is in negotiations to play the mother of the young protagonist, who is not going to be called Steven Spielberg. The director is co-writing the script with his frequent collaborator Tony Kushner (Munich, Lincoln) and the untitled film is expected to start shooting this July in advance of a 2022 release. It will be the first film Spielberg has taken a co-writing credit on since A.I., a project he inherited from Stanley Kubrick.
The project is set up at Spielberg‘s Amblin Partners, and the Oscar-winning filmmaker is currently conducting screen tests with young actors, including the lead at two different ages — a young boy and a teenager — as well as his various friends, who were especially important to him during his early years. From Henry Thomas and Drew Barrymore in E.T. and Christian Bale in Empire of the Sun to Joseph Mazello and Ariana Richards in Jurassic Park and Dakota Fanning in War of the Worlds, Spielberg has long shown an affinity for working with young actors.
In the late ’50s and early ’60s, Spielberg spent his formative years in Phoenix, Arizona, and it was his experience making 8mm movies in his backyard that led to him becoming the best-known filmmaker in the world. Though it’s unclear whether his new film will be a period piece, it is expected to draw from his relationship with his parents, who got divorced after the family moved to California while Steven was still in high school. He wound up moving in with his father, though the two had a strained relationship until they hashed things out later in life. Spielberg also faced anti-Semitism while living in Phoenix, and I think it’s safe to expect those themes to play a part in this film, as the director’s work can’t help but be influenced by his own life.
Williams recently won an Emmy and Golden Globe for her turn as Gwen Verdon in FX‘s Fosse/Verdon, and she’ll soon be seen alongside Tom Hardy once again in Venom: Let There Be Carnage, which is slated to open June 25. Williams is also set to play Peggy Lee in Todd Haynes‘ biopic Fever, and she has signed on to re-team with director Kelly Reichardt on the A24 movie Showing Up.
Spielberg and Kushner‘s remake of West Side Story stars Ansel Elgort and Rachel Zegler and is poised to hit theaters on Dec. 21 following a year-long delay stemming from the pandemic. Deadline and the Hollywood Reporter broke the news of Spielberg‘s latest project.