Saving Private Ryan, Edward Burns Recalls Working With Spielberg For The First Time. Had Zero Feedback For Two Weeks.

Edward Burns

Most of us can only imagine what it would be like to work with Steven Spielberg.  Some have been lucky enough to work with the director but for some it wasn't all plane sailing straight out of the box.  Take Edward Burns who talks about his time on Saving Private Ryan in his new book "Independent Ed" and in particular how nervous he was.  He admits that he 'botched' many takes:
He recalls Tom Hanks leaning in and whispering to him to calm down ("I've seen you act before, and this isn't acting!" he claims Hanks said). Yet despite several uncomfortable takes, Spielberg offered zero feedback, which terrified Burns.
"Most directors would have stepped in after my first botched take, offered some notes, and inadvertently rattled my confidence. But this wasn't Steven's approach with us. He allowed us several takes to figure things out for ourselves. So much that he didn't provide any direction for almost two weeks. We did our scenes in two or three takes and then moved on. No feedback. No nothing. The cast figured he hated what we were doing and speculated which one of us would be fired first." 
Spielberg started to give direction a few weeks later. But his early silence wasn't for nought. It was a strategy to help his actors find their respective ways on their own. According to Burns' account, Spielberg said: 
"I like to give my actors three takes to figure it out. If I step in after the first take and give you a note, especially with young actors, you'll hear me rather than your own voice.
Read more about Edwards Burns account on the set of Saving Private Ryan here.


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