It was all too much for Steven Spielberg the first time he saw Michelle Williams and Paul Dano in full costume as his parents on the set of the famed director’s autobiographical movie The Fabelmans. He started crying at the sight of them.
“Mark Bridges came over to me and said, ‘I’ve got Paul and Michelle here in their hair and makeup and costumes,'” Steven Spielberg said on Thursday’s episode of The Late Show With Stephen Colbert. Bridges is the film’s costume designer.
“I turned around and there was my father and mother, and I just burst into tears. Just like that. I didn’t even think about it. It just happened,” Spielberg added.
Steven Spielberg directed Paul Dano and Michelle Williams in The Fabelmans
True to character, Dano and Williams — who play Burt and Mitsi Fabelman, based on Spielberg’s parents Arnold Spielberg and Leah Adler — stepped in to offer the now 76-year-old director a parental embrace.
“Michelle ran to me, hugged me,” Spielberg said. “Paul came around the back of me — he’s really tall — hugged me around the shoulders and just held me.”
Dano told MovieMaker in December that his performance as Burt Fabelman was taken so seriously on set that when Spielberg’s sisters would visit, they actually called him “dad.”
“It felt like a heavy cloak to bear in some ways because Steven’s relationship with his father had some ups and downs. So I feel like I have to let Burt lead the way when I’m at work. It’s a trip to be sort of living that out. And, you know, Steven’s sisters would come to set and they would sometimes call me ‘dad,’ and it was just wild. It was moving,” Dano told MovieMaker.
The Fabelmans is nominated in seven categories at this year’s Oscars, including best picture and best actress for Williams.
The Fabelmans is now playing in theaters.
Watch Spielberg’s Colbert interview below.
Main Image: Paul Dano and Michelle Williams in The Fabelmans. Photo Credit: Universal Pictures