Richard Dreyfuss Thinks Steven Spielberg Played a Role in ‘Awful’ Portrayal of the ‘Jaws’ Star on Broadway

“The Shark Is Broken” imagines what could have happened behind the scenes during the classic film’s production

Richard Dreyfuss (Photo credit: Getty images)
Richard Dreyfuss (Photo credit: Getty images)

Richard Dreyfuss thinks “Jaws” director Steven Spielberg and the film’s co-screenwriter Carl Gottlieb played a factor in how he was portrayed in the new Broadway show “The Shark Is Broken.”

Dreyfuss made his remarks about the play during an interview with Vanity Fair, after he went to see the production earlier in October.

“The Shark Is Broken” imagines what could have happened behind the scenes during the classic film’s production and features character portrayals of the real stars of the movie, Dreyfuss, Roy Scheider and the late Robert Shaw. It was c0-written by Shaw’s son, Ian, who also stars in the show.

Dreyfuss said Ian never contacted him to gain his perspective.

“Ian, who has more than any right to write whatever he wants, never called me and said, “Give me some background,’ Or, ‘Give me your taken on this and this,’ and they just decided to make my character a big jerk.”

He continued: “The problem is that they made my character the fool. They didn’t do that to Roy [Scheider], and they didn’t do that to Robert. And that hurt because it wasn’t’ true.”

Dreyfus shared that there were only few incidents when he and Shaw weren’t getting along, saying they never took their issues “seriously.” He named one specific moment of tension being when Shaw sprayed him with a hose after Dreyfus threw his alcoholic beverage into the water.

“That was the only day I lost my sense of humor,” Dreyfuss went on. “That was not a feud. …We never had any bad feeling between us, ever.”

He added that he feels like the culprits behind how his character has been painted were Spielberg and Gottlieb, who Dreyfuss said in recent years had shared some stories about the film’s production.

“I don’t think they just gave it any thought that it would hurt me, and it did,” Dreyfuss said. “I have to say that Carl and Steven knew better, knew that there was no feud. There was an ongoing kind of humor between us. If you only saw us on the set, then you might think that there was something — a feud that was going on — but that was never real. And I hold that against Carl and Steven.”

He continued: “I have enormous respect for Steven’s talent as a director. I guess I don’t have as much for his talent as a friend.”

In the 1975 shark thriller, Dreyfuss played Matt Hooper, a marine biologist, and Shaw starred as Quint, the ship’s captain. The play’s story, taken from pages of Shaw’s diary, centers in on the relationship between the two actors and the speculations around their supposed longstanding beef.

“It was a great experience not only during the shoot, but for 30 years afterwards,” Dreyfuss said. “It didn’t turn sour at all until this feud bullshit started to be gossiped about.” 

Guy Masterson serves as director for the play “The Shark Is Broken,” with Joseph Nixon penning the screenplay. The show will run through Nov. 19 at New York’s John Golden Theater.

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