Hooper himself joined us on June 14 as we celebrated the 40th anniversary of “Jaws” with actor Richard Dreyfuss telling stories about the making of the blockbuster film … followed by a showing of the movie on our six-story screen.
An adoring crowd heard stories – many of them humorous – of mechanical sharks that didn’t work, director Steven Spielberg’s brilliance, Dreyfuss’ initial indifference to the film and more.
Responding to questions from sponsors and hosts Tina Pray and Joe Lockridge, Dreyfuss said he had not read Peter Benchley’s book when he was contacted by Spielberg about playing the role of the marine biologist Matt Hooper.
“I’m lazy, and that’s going to be a bitch [to film],” he recalls thinking.
He said he turned Spielberg down twice. But then, in 1974, after seeing a screening of his starring role in “The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz,” he changed his mind.
“I watched my performance and I said, ‘If this sells in the United States, I will never work again,’” he said. “I called up Steven and begged him for the part.”
Dreyfuss also admitted that, after filming of “Jaws” was completed, he didn’t have high hopes.
“Of course I’m also the one who, on the set of ‘American Graffiti,’ said, ‘What’s the big deal? It’s just a little movie,’” he said.
Dreyfuss said “Jaws” really was made without a script, with many of the iconic scenes either being ad libbed (example – one of Dreyfuss’ favorite lines: Hooper chuckling to himself “They’re all going to die”) or included after collaborative discussion (example – Dreyfuss crushing a Styrofoam cup).
“It really was an improvised epic,” he said.
Perhaps that’s why, as Dreyfuss admitted, parts of the story don’t make sense.
“Like, why we took the Orca and not my triple-deck decked-out boat,” he said.
Spielberg, he said, wisely threw out several of the subplots that exist in the book, and also decided that, in the movie, Hooper would not die.
“You couldn’t kill my character because I was too likeable,” he said.
In real life, Dreyfuss said he is a capable (if not officially certified) scuba diver. “Jaws” did not scare him out of the water.
But, he added: “What I will not do is just walk off the beach into the water. Neither Steven or I will walk off the beach into the water.”
See more images here.
The event sold out months ago … with most tickets being snapped up when they went on sale first to Maritime Aquarium members. Such exclusive ticket opportunities are just one of many advantages of a Maritime Aquarium membership.
Here’s the best story about that: Michael and Nathalia Chandler live in South Carolina. They’re big “Jaws” fans. They watch it a couple times a week, he says. Earlier this year, Nathalia discovered online that Dreyfuss would be at The Maritime Aquarium for a “Jaws” event. They called the Aquarium, bought a membership and got their tickets … not just for Dreyfuss’ talk but also for a pre-show VIP meet-and-greet with the actor. And so they flew in to Boston a couple nights ago and, on June 14, found themselves at The Maritime Aquarium, thrilled for the chance to have a brief chat with Dreyfuss.
– Dave Sigworth, Maritime Aquarium publicist