About 45 years ago, Universal Pictures released a little movie about sharks. Directed by Steven Spielberg, it not only created a sub-genre of aquatic horror, spawning film like The Meg and 47 Meters Down, but also became the very first summer blockbuster – a strategical move that Hollywood continues to rely on.
But as indispensably iconic as Jaws is today, back when the film released, no one knew what it would eventually become. Far from it, in fact, as there were actually a fair amount of people who thought the picture – with its thinly-stretched plot – would fail and sink into oblivion. Interestingly, one of these was none other than Richard Dreyfuss, whose role in the pic turned out to be a highlight of his career.
Playing the part of prudent yet passionate marine biologist Hooper, Dreyfuss was one of the three men who embarked on a mission to catch the titular killer shark. Ironically, the actor didn’t share the character’s enthusiasm for the situation and while discussing the film’s 45th anniversary with reporters over at Yahoo!, Dreyfuss said his expectations for the project were abysmal.
“Everyone had thought that they had struck gold, and I said, ‘What are you talking about? It’s just a little movie,” the actor explained his feelings back in the day. “And so when the film was released, I found myself going back to the talk shows and saying, ‘I’m the guy who didn’t believe in it.'”
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His attitude may have been soured by his experience on set. At one point in the story, his character gets lowered down into the water whilst inside a shark cage. During the shooting of this particular scene, Dreyfuss recalls how the device that was used to do this started to malfunction, lowering him into the water without being able to get him back out.
Nowadays, of course, most of these stunts are filmed digitally. And although Spielberg had similar technologies available to him back then, he preferred practical effects and his decision to take the tough but rewarding route probably contributed to the popularity of Jaws.