At only 12 years old, Julia Butters is taking Hollywood by storm. Her resume includes acting roles in popular shows like Transparent and American Housewife, but it was her role as Trudi Fraser in Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood that really won audiences over. Now, Steven Spielberg has cast Butters in his latest untitled Amblin film for a role that is sweetly inspired by his sister.
Deadline announced that Butters is the latest actor to be cast in Spielberg’s upcoming film that is loosely based on his childhood growing up in Arizona. Gabriel LaBelle (The Predator, iZombie) is cast to play the young filmmaker and Butters will play his sister. Other stars that will complete the fictional Spielberg family include Michelle Williams in a role inspired by his mother, Seth Roganas as the favorite uncle, and Paul Dano as the character inspired by Spielberg’s father. This will be the first time since 2001’s sci-fi drama A.I. that Spielberg will be involved in screenwriting duties, reuniting with seasoned collaborator Tony Kushner (Munich, Lincoln) on the script.
With Kushner on board, it seems like the drama may be more serious than some of the other old-school Spielberg films. However, when one is dealing with a depiction of their life growing up, that can be expected. In the 2017 HBO documentary Spielberg, the director briefly touched on his life growing up in Arizona and how it influenced several of his films. For example, he wrote and directed his first independent film in 1963, a sci-fi adventure called Firelight, which later inspired Close Encounters of The Third Kind. The film was funded by his father and was shown in a local theatre for one evening.
Growing Up Spielberg
I’m really excited about this film and look forward to learning more about the legendary director’s childhood, even if it’s told through a lens of fiction. It’s a rare talent to be able to appeal to children and adults alike through art, and Spielberg has perfected it. He seems to always bring the best out of his young actors, too. He’s worked with Drew Barrymore, Henry Thomas, and Dakota Fanning, who have all gone on to have successful careers. As difficult as it is to write stories about childhood experiences, it can be even more challenging to work with child actors.
While Spielberg was influenced by directors like Alfred Hitchcock, Stanley Kubrick, and Ingmar Bergman, there is a light-hearted playfulness that captures the free and youthful spirit of being a kid. There’s also the music that accompanies Spielberg films that really brings that magic to life. Long-term collaborator John Williams (Jaws, E.T The Extra-Terrestrial) always hits the right notes to embellish the array of moods in Spielberg films, so I would love to see him on board for this film.
Spielberg’s film will start shooting this summer and is expected to be released sometime in 2022.
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