We recently brought you an interview with Steven Spielberg and his father, discussing the films the director made as a teenager. Of all American auteurs, Spielberg may be the most in touch with his inner child, so it comes as no surprise that the young Spielberg recorded train crashes and battles using his own room or yard as the backdrop.
What no one, including the DreamWorks co-founder himself, knew until recently is that all those 8 mm shorts were more than just a pastime. In a recent interview Spielberg revealed that he is dyslexic and that he was only diagnosed five years ago. “It explained a lot of things,” Spielberg told Quinn Bradlee. “It was like the last puzzle part in a tremendous mystery that I’ve kept to myself all these years.”
Always two years behind the class in reading, Spielberg was teased by other kids in school. He dreaded having to read in front of the class. He never lacked for friends, though looking back on it several of his friends were probably also dyslexic.
“Even my own friends who were just like me, we didn’t have the skills to talk about it,” he recalled in the interview for Friends of Quinn, a site for people with learning differences. “I got bullied. I dealt with it by making movies. That was my cover up.”
Spielberg, whose films have spanned all genres over more than four decades, says that moviemaking was his “great escape” from feeling painfully different.
“I never felt like a victim. Movies helped save me from shame, from guilt from putting it on myself when it wasn’t my burden,” he says. “In light of feeling like an outsider, movies made me feel inside my own skill set.”
He says that it takes him about three hours to read what most people could read in a little more than an hour.
“I’m slow, but I’ve learned to adjust,” he says. “I am in a business where reading is very important. I read often and I have great comprehension. I retain almost everything I read. I really take my time going through a book or a script.”
With all of that said, don’t miss our previous post: Steven Spielberg’s Debut: Two Films He Directed as a Teenager
Kate Rix is an Oakland-based freelance writer. Find more of her work at katerixwriter.com.