Robert Zemeckis Looks Back on His Debut-Film Jitters

Inside Criterion / Sneak Peeks — Apr 1, 2019


Over the course of his four-decade Hollywood career, Robert Zemeckis has racked up no shortage of memorable achievements, bringing to life the beloved Back to the Future franchise, winning an Oscar for his work on Forrest Gump, and gaining renown as a special-effects pioneer. But he still recalls shooting his directorial debut—1978’s I Wanna Hold Your Hand, a madcap time-capsule comedy about six teens at the scene of the Beatles’ earth-shaking Ed Sullivan Show appearance—as if it were yesterday. In the above clip, taken from a supplement on our new edition of the film, Zemeckis talks with Bob Gale and Steven Spielberg—longtime collaborators who were, respectively, his cowriter and executive producer on I Wanna Hold Your Hand—about his initial experiences in the hot seat of the director’s chair. Here, he cheerfully recounts the exhilarating terror of arriving at the set and seeing six forty-foot trailer trucks waiting to be unloaded, laying dolly track and corralling extras for a complicated first shot, and what it was like to watch his first round of dailies with Spielberg, who just a few years earlier had, with Jaws, reinvented the blockbuster.