Before Alfred Hitchcock‘s death in 1980, Steven Spielberg tried to meet him several times – once allegedly on the set of Hitchcock’s final movie Family Plot (1976). Hitchcock was Spielberg’s hero, but the older director reportedly refused to meet the young Jaws filmmaker for a surprising reason.
As revealed by The Independent, in Stephen Schochet’s 2001 audio book Tales of Hollywood Alfred Hitchcock was said to have been “upset by an uninvited young man hovering around [his] movie set.” Schochet says this was Spielberg, and that Hitchcock had him removed from the set of Family Plot.
Actor Bruce Dern worked with Hitchcock on Marnie (1964) and Family Plot. In his 2014 memoir, he says that he tried to persuade Hitch to meet Spielberg. “I said, ‘You’re his idol. He just [wants] to sit at your feet for five minutes and chat with you’,” Dern wrote, stating that Hitchcock flat out refused. “Hitchcock said, ‘Isn’t that the boy who made the fish movie? I could never sit down and talk to him…because I look at him and feel like such a whore.'”
Dern continued; “I said, ‘Why do you feel Spielberg makes you a whore?’ Hitch said, ‘Because I’m the voice of the Jaws ride [at the Universal Studios theme park]. They paid me a million dollars. And I took it and I did it. I’m such a whore. I can’t sit down and talk to the boy who did the fish movie. I couldn’t even touch his hand.'”
Both Hitchcock and Spielberg have long associations with the Universal Studios Hollywood tour and theme park. Two of the longest-standing and most iconic parts of the tour are the Bates Motel from Psycho, where you’ll hear Norman Bates arguing with Mother, and visiting Amity Island and having Bruce the shark pop up and scare you. Hitchcock was a major investor in Universal, and Spielberg makes $30 million a year from the parks.
It’s a shame that Spielberg didn’t get to meet Hitchcock, but he got to work with Francois Truffaut on Close Encounters, so that probably softened the blow. Check out our guide to the best Steven Spielberg movies and the best adventure movies.