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Kidsday interviews Steven Spielberg for "Tintin"

Kidsday reporter Charles Beers, 14, of Huntington, on

Kidsday reporter Charles Beers, 14, of Huntington, on the Red Carpet at the Ziegfield Theatre in Manhattan with "The Adventures of Tintin" director Steven Spielberg. Charles interviewed Spielberg, along with "Tintin" producer Kathleen Kennedy, and director George Lucas for an upcoming issue of Kidsday. (Dec. 11, 2011) Credit: Pat Mullooly

I was doing a little research for this press conference and I noticed that your birthday is a week from today [Dec. 18]. Let me be the first to wish you a happy birthday.

Thank you very much. That's the easiest question I've had today.

Second, let me say I'm a big fan of yours. Your characters have inspired kids my age for a long time. And all kids feel a little excluded like the "Goonies." All kids feel a little lost like "ET" at times -- and who doesn't want to go on an adventure like Indiana Jones, which leads me to my question. What is the key ingredient to creating characters that not only entertain your viewers but also offer them life lessons on their journeys?

Wow, that's a great question. That's a great preamble. It's actually a combination of things. There's no one magic answer to your question that would satisfy you and make any sense to me because we're an extraordinary art form in this business. It's a collaborative art form more than any other business, I guess any other art form. More collaboration goes on making movies than anything else. Yeah, and of course television and theater, but movies principally require the best of everybody all the same time being the best they can be.

It's like if everybody is either doing their greatest work or the whole house of cards falls apart. And some of that is luck and some of that is intelligent casting. Bringing the right people into the experience with me and sometimes you can get all the right people and it still doesn't work. So I really think that I need to acknowledge the collaborative art that this is because if I didn't I would lead you to believe that I do everything and I would not be able to have "War Horse," "Adventures of Tintin" and" Lincoln," which I'm currently shooting.

. . . So this is just a fraction of the creative team sitting here talking to you, but they all represent the different branches of creativity. I could not have made this movie if Kathy [Kathleen Kennedy] hadn't been with me for 28 years trying to get this thing off the ground back in 1983 when we both went to Belgium, two weeks after [Tintin author] Hergé's death to meet the widow, Fanny, [from whom] we got the rights. . . . And then, on the other side, my invisible partner, . . . Peter Jackson. Peter's got the sense of humor and we laugh at the same things and we simply had fun. And without Peter I wouldn't have had any fun with this movie at all. Peter just made it fun and he has a real laid-back attitude. When I say laid-back attitude, it's basically we'll figure it out. If we can't figure it out today, we'll figure it out next week. And there's something about that partnership that takes the pressure off of me. The greatest contribution I think that Peter Jackson made to this movie was to cast Jamie Bell as Tintin. That was Peter's idea. They had worked together in "King Kong" and Peter came to me with this idea, which I had felt was inspired and pissed off that it wasn't mine. It was my producer's idea. And then Jamie, I think invested Tintin with a great degree of himself. . . . And you could see in all the Hergé illustrations Jamie understood the poses, he studied Tintin's poses and he just became a Tintin on the first day of motion capture, he was Tintin. It was amazing.

In nearly all of your action movies the main character is a courageous hero who is also sort of a curious kid at heart. In what way are you a curious kid at heart?

I've always been a curious kid at heart. If I didn't have curiosity I couldn't be a moviemaker because I would never be looking around the corners for stories. I would just sort of find a lifestyle and stick with it as long as it worked for me. I like changing up, I like variety, I don't like making the same movie over and over again, I like to challenge myself. So the more variety in my life as a filmmaker, the happier I am working as a moviemaker.

Throughout his escapades, Tintin continues to risk his life on the search of his treasures. What risks have you taken as a director?

I take a risk every time I direct a movie -- nobody's going to come see it, nobody's going to like it. The risk is inherent always in just embarking on a new adventure for me. And so there's always risks.

I read that you're planning on a "Tintin" sequel?


What other movies do you think you'll collaborate with Peter Jackson on?

Well, this is a lot. This is a plate full of movie I'm telling you. And so if we're lucky and get to make more than two because we got the green light to make the second one based on the overseas box office results. If we get to make more, Peter and I will be in business together for a long time, I'm hoping.

I also read that you said that you and Tintin were destined for a collaboration or a journey of discovery. What have you discovered now that your first journey's over?

I discovered that I'm not as good as Tintin. He's a better young man then I was at his same age.

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