Spielberg & Hanks discuss Trump, freedom of the press and their latest film
In this Friday’s issue of the i newspaper, Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks talk about their latest project, The Post, which led nominations at the Golden Globes and is already generating major Oscar buzz.
In this frank interview, Spielberg praises journalism in the era of fake news, considers how President Trump has changed Americans’ relationship with media and talks the impact of #metoo and #TimesUp.
Hanks opens up about his admiration for Meryl Streep and reveals his optimistic view for the future of press freedom.
On celebrating journalists amid the rise of fake news
Spielberg: “I just thought this was the right time to talk about freedom of the press, to talk about the right of free speech, celebrate the hard work of journalism and news reporting, and how good journalists hold themselves to their own principles, in order to tell the truth and be able to back up that truth with facts,” says Spielberg, when we meet in London’s Claridges Hotel. In the era of ‘fake news’, the 71 year-old director has “watched the pendulum” swing from 1971 to now. “We’re in the same situation today, only worse.”
On how Trump has changed the way Americans consume news
Spielberg: [Since Trump became president, American citizens are now] “listening to the news with new ears”, [he says.] “They see the truth being labelled ‘fake’ if the truth doesn’t please those who are calling it out as fake. And, of course, when the news does please those in power, they call it the truth. If it doesn’t please them they call it fake or alternative facts. [And I said:] ‘This is the time to tell the story when we can all become part of this national conversation.’” He calls the film a strong reminder “that the press serves the governed, not the governors”.
On the lasting impact of the recent Hollywood sexual misconduct scandals
Spielberg: “If our movie has anything to do with opening up that conversation, I’m happy to have helped make that contribution,” [says Spielberg.] “It’s an important conversation and we can’t stop having it, because if we stop having this conversation, it’ll become just another news cycle… this watershed moment has to make permanent change in our country, the way men look at women, approach women, treat women.”
On how fake news is paving the way for the future of press freedom
Hanks: “Don’t mistake the present for what the future could be,” [he adds.] “Action is going to come about because of this. It’s one thing to sow the wind’ it’s something very different to reap the whirlwind. It’s going to be fascinating, but without a doubt I think it’s going to be hopeful because more people are going to be involved by choice.”
On working alongside iconic actress Meryl Steep
Hanks: [Hanks gulps:] “I’m in awe of Meryl Streep. I was afraid of Meryl Streep. I did not know what to say to Meryl Streep.” [Unlike Trump, perhaps, who Tweeted she was] “over-rated” [following her critical speech of him at last year’s Golden Globe awards. Heaven knows what he’ll call her once he sees The Post.]
This in an extract from the full interview with Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks, available to read in this Friday’s issue of the i newspaper, priced at 60p