Steven Spielberg explains the story behind how David Lynch was cast as John Ford for The Fabelmans. Co-written by him and his frequent collaborator Tony Kushner, Spielberg’s semi-autobiographical film follows Sammy Fabelman (played by Gabriel LaBelle) as his stand-in, exploring his development as a young filmmaker while surrounded by his dysfunctional family. At the end of the film, Sammy ends up in the offices of the legendary filmmaker John Ford, played by living legend David Lynch.
During a recent sit-down with The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Spielberg explained the story behind how Lynch was cast as Ford in The Fabelmans.
Spielberg explains that he originally had another actor in mind to play Ford until someone else intervened. In a previous interview, Spielberg revealed that Lynch declined the role at first, and he had to call in a mutual friend, Jurassic Park‘s Laura Dern, to convince him. Read what Spielberg shared below:
I had an actor in mind, I won’t mention who it is, he’s a friend of mine, to play John Ford and then Tony Kutcher’s husband Mark Harris said, “What about David Lynch?” Tony called me so excited and said, “You know who Mark just suggested? David Lynch,” and the light bulbs went off the second I heard that name I went, “Oh my God, Mark is so right,” and so I called David.
David Lynch’s Cameo In The Fabelmans Explained
For the final scene in The Fabelmans, Sammy ends up in the offices of his greatest filmmaking influence, John Ford, the director of classic westerns like Stagecoach, The Searchers, and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. During their brief meeting, Ford offers Sammy some valuable advice on framing before telling him to “get the f**k out of [his] office.” This exchange actually happened to a young Spielberg, word for word, who was initially traumatized by the bollocking he had received from his hero, though over time, he came to appreciate the invaluable advice Ford had given him.
Lynch, an iconic filmmaker in his own right, perfectly captures the spirit of the ornery auteur, because he is arguably one himself. Sporting an eye patch and smoking a cigar, Lynch plays up Ford’s brashness and bluster, which is both hilarious in and of itself, but also quite accurate based on interviews with Ford from the time. Though it wasn’t the director’s idea, David Lynch’s pitch-perfect casting as John Ford served as an excellent conclusion to Spielberg’s semi-autobiographical film, The Fabelmans.
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