Steven Spielberg is a man with a vision. His remarkable filmography clearly speaks volumes about his mastery of the art of direction. Amongst all his projects, Schindler’s List is one of his most celebrated movies. It is next to impossible to imagine someone else behind the director’s lens with respect to Schindler’s List. 

Steven Spielberg
Steven Spielberg

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However, Steven Spielberg was not supposed to make Schindler’s List in the first place. He was busy wearing the director’s hat for Robert De Niro’s Cape Fear. The Jaws filmmaker is a strong believer in great messaging behind his movies and this was one of the reasons why Steven Spielberg backed out from Robert De Niro’s Cape Fear. 

Why did Steven Spielberg Turn Down Working With Robert De Niro In Cape Fear?

The 1991 released crime drama Cape Fear revolves around the story of a violent s*x offender Max Cady played by actor Robert De Niro. From the disturbing tale of the movie, one can easily understand that it simply does not suit Steven Spielberg’s style. During an interview with the reputed media outlet Far Out Magazine in 2021, the filmmaker mentioned-

“I wasn’t in the mood; it’s as simple as that…I just couldn’t find it inside me to make a scary movie about a family being preyed on by a maniac.”

Steven Spielberg
Cape Fear

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He went ahead with Schindler’s List, a movie based on the backdrop of the holocaust. The movie was supposed to be directed by Martin Scorsese. While talking about his decision to switch between the two projects, Steven Spielberg further added-

“I was drawn to it because of the paradoxical nature of the character…what would drive a man like this to suddenly take everything he had earned and put it all in the service of saving these lives?”

Steven Spielberg
Schindler’s List

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The entire entertainment industry and as well as the audience were grateful for the swap as Schindler’s List is one of the most critically acclaimed movies of all time. To come up with such a serious theme and to direct one of the best actors of all time in a negative light is not every filmmaker’s cup of tea, but Martin Scorsese went on to prove it with his sheer brilliance and determination

Steven Spielberg Directing Schindler’s List Was Never In The Plan

Steven Spielberg and Martin Scorsese are great friends. During the famous media outlet Variety’s 100 Greatest Movies of All Time, the legendary filmmaker contributed an essay praising Martin Scorsese’s Goodfellas. The essay mentioned-

Henry Hill, Jimmy the Gent, Tommy DeVito, Paulie, Karen, Billy Batts, the Lufthansa heist … all someone has to do is mention some of these names and I get the sudden and irresistible urge to watch Martin Scorsese’s “Goodfellas” again. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve experienced this epic cinematic masterpiece, which includes a brilliant screenplay by Nicholas Pileggi and Scorsese, and one of cinema history’s greatest acting ensembles: De Niro, Pesci, Liotta, and some of the most memorable supporting roles ever — from Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Imperioli, Chuck Low and Tony Darrow to Catherine and Charles Scorsese … there are no background performances in “Goodfellas.”

Steven Spielberg
Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg

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The essay further mentions-

“It’s no longer a guilty pleasure to sit for 2 hours and 26 minutes, but rather a master class for any aspiring filmmaker who wants to see a breathtaking balancing act of multiple storylines, timelines, shocking violence and violent humor. The film has an intoxicating energy expressed not only through masterful editing, but also the greatest needle-drop score since “American Graffiti” and the best spoken narrative since Billy Wilder’s “Double Indemnity.”

The Saving Private Ryan director had even swapped his project with Martin Scorsese as he could not relate to the theme of Cape Fear. 

Both Cape Fear and Schindler’s List are available for rent on YouTube

Source: Far Out Magazine/ Variety

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