18 October 2021
Want to Know What Really Went Down Between Quint and Hooper on ‘Jaws’?
A new West End show about the stormy genesis of Spielberg’s 1975 classic – co-written and starring Quint’s son, no less – provides some clues.
Ian Shaw was a small boy when he went to visit his father, Robert, on Martha’s Vineyard, where the revered British actor was making a movie about a great white shark that terrorises a New England town. Or rather, not on Martha’s Vineyard so much as off it, as the film’s 26-year-old director, Steven Spielberg, wanted to capture the dark tempestuous essence of the ocean by shooting on the ocean itself. Shaw was playing Quint, a gleaming-eyed, Ahabian fisherman who accepts a bounty to kill the monster, alongside Hollywood stalwart Roy Scheider as Brody, Amity Island’s besieged chief of police, and a promising New York upstart, Richard Dreyfuss, cast as the young know-it-all marine biologist, Hooper.
The story of the making – or, for much of the time, the not-making – of Jaws has gone down in cinematic lore. Shooting on the Atlantic meant that the production was at the mercy of the weather and also the salt water, which played havoc with the pneumatic components of the mechanical shark – nicknamed “Bruce” after Spielberg’s lawyer, Bruce Raynor. As a result, the budget was spectacularly blown and the cast and crew had a lot of time to kill; or, in the case of Shaw and Dreyfuss, who had a famously turbulent relationship, nearly kill each other. But of course the problems of Jaws also necessitated the movie’s innovations: the malfunctioning fake shark meant that in order to create suspense, Spielberg deployed John Williams’ score and underwater shots from the shark’s point of view, both of which are, today, iconic.