We may earn a commission when you buy through links in our articles. Learn more.

Robert Shaw tried to start fight on Jaws after losing at ping-pong

Many behind the scenes stories from the making of Jaws are just as entertaining as the movie, especially if they involve Robert Shaw.

Robert Shaw in Jaws

The behind-the-scenes tales (tails?) of the making of Jaws are now as legendary as the best shark movie of all time itself. In a new book, called Steven Spielberg: The First Ten Years, Spielberg speaks in detail (via Vanity Fair) about making Jaws – which was famously an absolute nightmare, mainly due to a malfunctioning mechanical shark named Bruce.

Some of the cast members could be just as unruly as the shark, as Spielberg recounted; “I’ll never forget that one of the first things Robert Shaw said to me was, ‘I haven’t had a drink in two months!’ And producer Dick Zanuck was always warning me when he sensed that Robert Shaw had been drinking, fearing it would delay filming—but it didn’t really matter because the shark wasn’t working anyway.”

“Incidentally, during production, Dick Zanuck and Robert Shaw would play ping-pong together, and one day, when Dick won, Shaw challenged him to a fistfight which was quickly defused by others. If Shaw had gotten a black eye, that would definitely have put us further behind schedule!”

Shaw was definitely the source of many of the funniest and naughtiest stories from the Jaws set, such as when Quint, Brody and Hooper are packing to board the Orca and the actors were improvising some lines in which they tease one another. Spielberg recalled; “At some point, Robert Shaw recited this little poem, ‘This is the story of Mary McGee, lived to the age of a hundred and three. For fifteen years she kept her virginity, not a bad record for this vicinity.'”

YouTube Thumbnail

“I said to him, ‘You got to help me clear this—if that’s from a song, we can’t use it without paying for the rights.’ And he reassured me, ‘No, I don’t think we’ll get sued. I got it from a tombstone in Ireland!'”

Check out our guide to the best Steven Spielberg movies and the best monster movies. Also check out our guide to the thing that maybe Spielberg is best at – the adventure movie.