Q&A: Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks answer questions during promotional screening

Alex Pelham

Editor’s Note: This Q&A has been edited for brevity and clarity.

During a series of promotional screenings of their latest film “Bridge of Spies,” director Steven Spielberg and lead actor Tom Hanks participated in a Q&A broadcasted live to theaters nationwide, including Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar. They answered a few preselected questions about “Bridge of Spies,” their films and their views on the film industry, as well as questions submitted from the audience via Twitter. 

Q: If you had to go home tonight and watch one of your movies, what would it be?

Tom Hanks: They’re all such personal things. The only movie I can watch over and over again is “That Thing You Do.” It came out the way I imagined, and the music was so infectious. The problem with movies is that they never change. Once you see them, it’s not like they’re better. They’re locked in stone, and if you hate any minute of it, you hate it for the rest of eternity.

Steven Spielberg: I have trouble watching my movies, but I watch them when I’m showing them to my kids for the first time. I won’t watch “E.T.” by myself, but I’ve shown “E.T.” to every one of my seven children at the appropriate age. I enjoy watching a movie I made through their eyes because I see it in a different way each time. If it were me alone in a room, it’d have to be “Raiders of the Lost Ark.”

Q: How do you maintain movie magic in a time of remakes galore?

Spielberg: I never think about [a film I’m working on] in a context of remakes, or sequels or big franchises. I just try to find material that compels me and keeps me awake at night. Anything that doesn’t let me sleep, I’m going to by and large direct that. I get so caught up in a story like “Bridge of Spies” that I don’t feel it bares much relevance to films that other filmmakers are making. That doesn’t distract me or make me think I have to be competitive.

Q: Do either of you have a movie that you almost didn’t make but were so glad you did?

Spielberg: “Lincoln.” I couldn’t get it cast. We had trouble getting co-financing because nobody thought that anyone would go see, in 2013, a movie about Abraham Lincoln. It was a hard sell, even in my own company. That came very close to being an HBO movie.

Hanks: The studio was one day away from pulling the plug on this one movie I was going to make. The director came up to my house and said [the movie] was going to fall apart because [the studio] wouldn’t give us the budget for shooting this one sequence. The sequence was Forrest [Gump] running across the country. We were 48 hours away from giving it up.

Q: What is something you will take and hold onto from “Bridge of Spies”?

Spielberg: The movie is for individuals and not for the group. I think movies speak to every individual and not just the audience itself. I don’t want to give you a road sign to what you should take away from this movie. I can only tell you what I’m holding onto and one of the reasons I made the film, and that basically is you have to know when to fight — you have to know what to fight for. You have to know when to fight for something and have to always be mindful that you can never be a bystander in a situation where you can make a difference and save a life.