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Jaws inspired more shark hunting, and Spielberg regrets it

Steven Spielberg says that he "really, truly regrets" the rise in shark hunting that happened after the release of Jaws and thinks sharks are mad at him.


Steven Spielberg is currently doing the rounds of press interviews and industry events for his newly released movie The Fabelmans, which is a semi-autobiographical memoir. This has taken him as far as long-running BBC Radio programme Desert Island Discs, as revealed by The Guardian.

Asked by presenter Lauren Laverne how he would feel about having sharks circling him if he were sent to the show’s imaginary desert island, Spielberg said; “That’s one of the things I still fear. Not to get eaten by a shark, but that sharks are somehow mad at me for the feeding frenzy of crazy sports fishermen that happened after 1975. I truly and to this day regret the decimation of the shark population because of the book and the film. I really, truly regret that.”

But Paul Cox, of the Shark Trust in Plymouth, said that although shark populations had shrunk dramatically since the film’s release, to put the blame on Jaws is “giving the film far too much credit. The cases of shark population decline are very clearly fisheries overfishing.”

Spielberg said that making The Fabelmans was the “most self indulgent thing I’ve ever asked people to accompany me through.” He described the project, starring Paul Dano and Michelle Williams as versions of his own parents, as “$40m of therapy.”

“I didn’t know really what I was doing, except I was answering a need I had – being an orphan, or recently orphaned by the loss of both parents, to recapture some of those memories in some way that wouldn’t seem too indulgent to actors I really respected. So it was a tightrope for a while.” Gabriel LaBelle plays Sammy Fabelman – a stand-in for a teenaged Spielberg in the movie.

If you’re a Jaws fan, check out our guide to the best monster movies.