The Fabelmans star Gabriel LaBelle opens up on ‘secretive’ audition to play young version of director Steven Spielberg
The Fabelmans star Gabriel LaBelle has opened up about what it was like auditioning to play the juggernaut role of a younger Steven Spielberg, revealing he didn’t even know what role he was going for at first.
The new movie, which has been described as a love letter to cinema by the acclaimed director, is a semi-autobiographical tale about his younger years and early stages of becoming a filmmaker.
Rather than name the main character after himself, the tale follows a young man called Sammy Fabelman played by Gabriel, with Michelle Williams and Paul Dano starring as Sammy’s parents, Mitzi Schildkraut-Fabelman and Burt Fabelman.
At the London premiere of the Golden Globe-winning picture, Gabriel spoke to Metro.co.uk about auditioning for the first time all the way back in March 2021, when he ‘didn’t know what it was for’.
‘It was all very secretive, and then I send it in and then it’s not until after that they find out “It’s a Steven Spielberg movie about his life! And that was for a young him!”’ the 20-year-old said.
In the months that followed, the actor spotted articles coming out about how Steven, 76, was making a movie with Michelle, Paul and Seth Rogen, but he ‘heard nothing’.
That is, until May came around, ‘when they hit me up randomly, they want a call back’.
‘I go back, I Zoom with Cindy Tolan, the casting director. I stack a bunch of books on my laptop there, I film myself separately on a tripod, send them that. Then they go, “Steven would like to meet with you now.” And I was like “Okay?!”’
Two days later, Gabriel was on a Zoom call with the famed director with a new scene, celebrated for movies including E.T., Jaws and Indiana Jones. As you do.
‘Two days from then I’m Zooming with Steven and auditioning for him. It was a great meeting and the day after that I’m hanging out with my dad and my brother and I get a call from my agent. They’re not calling for anything else!’ Gabriel recalled.
‘They go “Hey Gabe, how’re you doing today?” And I know what’s going on, and I’m like, “Not much, I’m just here with my dad and my brother out on the deck.” And they go, “Put it on speaker phone.”
‘And so I do and they give us the news and it was really lovely. I don’t know how to articulate that feeling, but it was really exciting.’
Looking back on his fond memories from set Gabriel – whose previous work includes starring in The Predator, American Gigolo and Brand New Cherry Flavor – admitted he couldn’t single one out.
‘I don’t have a favourite moment because it’s three months of a lot of work and you learn something incredible every day,’ he shared.
‘We became close on set. It was very nice. We were all united in making sure that Steven gets what he needs out of this story.’
At the Golden Globes, which recently took place in Los Angeles, The Fabelmans took home the awards for Best Drama Motion Picture and Best Director, having been nominated for five accolades in total.
Everything Everywhere All At Once star Ke Huy Quan expressed his admiration for Steven during his emotional award acceptance speech, having played Short Round as a child in the 1984 blockbuster Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.
The Fabelmans will be available to watch in cinemas from Friday January 27.
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