Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Why Steven Spielberg Was Never The Same After Directing Jaws

One of cinema's most celebrated monster movies, "Jaws" made audiences afraid to go near the beach ever again — at least, not without a scuba tank and rifle handy. Producers made a big gamble bringing the Peter Benchley novel about a killer great white to life, and placed an even bigger bet by hiring a young Steven Spielberg, then a relatively unknown filmmaker, to direct it.

Packed with heart-pounding suspense and riveting characters, "Jaws" set the bar for future horror films and put Spielberg on the map. It blew critics and fans out of the water, receiving three Academy Awards — Best Sound, Best Film Editing, and Best Original Dramatic Score. The movie made several of the American Film Institute's top lists, including "100 Greatest American Films of All Time." The film is also considered to be the original "summer blockbuster" and began the trend of Hollywood spending big bucks to release high-action movies in theaters during the summer season.

Some might say that the breakthrough success of "Jaws" was what launched Steven Spielberg's career, changing life as he knew it. They're not wrong, although the movie may have affected the celebrated filmmaker in more ways than one — and not for the better.

Spielberg took years to get over his "Jaws" trauma

"Jaws" was the source of many horror fans' nightmares, and even Spielberg himself was not wholly immune. It seems that the making of one of the world's most lauded thrillers took its toll on the filmmaker, as he once related in an interview with Entertainment Weekly in 2016. While taking a tour of the Universal Studios' lot and waxing nostalgic, Spielberg revealed that he would often take solace by sitting alone on the set of the "Orca" — the boat used to hunt down the shark in the movie.

"I used to come out for a couple of years after I made the movie to get over my PTSD," Spielberg confessed. "I would work through my own trauma, because it was traumatic. I would just sit in that boat alone for hours, just working through, and I would shake. My hands would shake."

Yikes. Apparently, the overwhelming pressure behind the scenes of "Jaws" would go on to haunt the filmmaker for years to come. However, Spielberg went on to say that he owes his career to the film: "The experience gave me complete freedom for the rest of my career ... The amount of success the film enjoyed just gave me final cut, gave me the chance to tell my own stories."

While being grateful to Spielberg for giving fans such an iconic horror for the ages, we do hope that time has helped to heal his mental scars.