Sawyer Spielberg has just landed in England. Taking my call from the sunny South East, the jet lagged LA native turned adopted New Yorker is fuelled on coffee. ‘Because of the pandemic there was a four hour queue I had to stand through, which was rough,’ he says of his arrival on UK shores, ‘but I made some new friends, which was very nice.’
Little did his airport acquaintances know that they were talking to the son of one of the most famous filmmakers of all time. Sawyer Spielberg, 29, is one of six children of actress Kate Capshaw and director Steven Spielberg. An actor himself – with an uncanny likeness to Prince Harry – he is about to make his film debut starring in a perplexingly chilling indie horror, Honeydew.
‘It’s such a unique, special, little gem of a movie. I don’t think I’ve read anything like it before,’ he reflects. Spielberg plays Sam, an aspiring actor assisting his botanist girlfriend on a research project in the countryside. When evicted from their camping spot, the couple seek refuge at a local farm and are soon subject to strange happenings, hallucinations and torture, at the hands of the farm’s owner, Karen.
‘I auditioned for it before reading the script,’ Spielberg confesses. Compelled to accept the role because of his chemistry with director Devereux Milburn, he went ahead and said yes. The decision was, in his own words, ‘one of the best choices’, leading to the ideal ‘movie to come out of the gate with.’ Speaking about the film, he adds, ‘I was blown away by how smart and eerie it was. A lot of times, a movie that’s titled “horror” ends up being kinda cheesy, and I just thought this was very smart and slow.’
Shot pre-pandemic on a ranch in Massachusetts, Spielberg has fond memories of living with the cast and crew, although off-set conditions rivalled that of the horror genre itself. ‘The house we were staying in was completely infested with these huge spiders, wolf spiders, the size of a baseball!’ He adds, ‘every night we’d come home and it was dark and we’d have to walk and dodge these huge spiders – I have arachnophobia, so it definitely helped with the mood of the piece.’
Honeydew may mark Spielberg’s first experience in front of the camera, but he’s no stranger to a film set. As a young teenager, he worked as a production assistant on some of his father’s films (including Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull) and went on to direct his own poetic short film, Breathe, in 2016. What did the Spielberg clan make of his acting debut? ‘My dad had a lot of nice things to say about Dev, the director,’ he says, adding that the rest of his family have ‘seen it and they loved it.’
A career in acting may seem like the obvious path for a child of two film buffs, but that wasn’t the case for Spielberg. ‘It wasn’t until about two or three years ago that I wanted to try doing more film work,’ he adds, ‘I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. As a teenager I was just kind of running around LA skateboarding.’ Toying with every idea from studying engineering to becoming a landscaper and opening his own restaurant, Spielberg soon found his calling in theatre acting. ‘For a long time I only imagined myself doing theatre,’ he admits. It was here too, where he met his wife of two and a half years, Raye. ‘We were both taking a class together and it was an immediate connection. We’ve been tied at the hip ever since.’
Horror movies aside, we should expect to see more of Spielberg on our screens – the actor is about to start filming ‘a period piece’ scheduled for the latter half of 2022. During his four month stint in the UK, he hopes to visit Ireland and Cornwall, ditching period costume for a wetsuit and embracing his new lockdown hobby. ‘Surfing has become a complete obsession of mine,’ he says ‘I needed something to do outside where I can be six feet apart from somebody and still have a community.’
What else can he share of his new project? ‘I’m not sure how much I can say yet,’ he says, shyly revealing ‘my character’s got an accent,’ and ‘it’s very, very, very, very different from Honeydew, which is exciting for me.’
Honeydew will be released on Digital Platforms on 29 March via Signature Entertainment.
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