Steven Spielberg Chronicles a Childhood Love for Movies in 'The Fabelmans' Trailer Based on His Family

The Fabelmans stars Michelle Williams, Paul Dano, Seth Rogen and Gabriel LaBelle

Steven Spielberg is back with a film loosely based on his own upbringing.

After coming-of-age movie The Fabelmans had its world premiere at the 2022 Toronto International Film Festival, Universal Pictures debuted the first trailer on Sunday morning. In it, a young boy named Sammy Fabelman (Gabriel LaBelle) discovers the power of movies, with his mother Mitzi (Michelle Williams) encouraging his creativity while his practical father Burt (Paul Dano) views it as a hobby.

"In this family it's the scientists versus the artists," Mitzi says in the trailer. "Sammy's on my team, takes after me." Later, she tells Burt, "You dismiss what he does that's playful or imaginative. You could afford to be a little encouraging."

The Fabelmans sees Spielberg once again collaborate with the Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Tony Kushner, after 2012's Lincoln and last year's West Side Story. The cast also includes Seth Rogen, Judd Hirsch, Jeannie Berlin, Robin Bartlett and Julia Butters.

Williams, 42, told Variety in May about being asked to play a character based on Spielberg's late mom in the semi-autobiographical project.

(from left) Burt Fabelman (Paul Dano), younger Sammy Fabelman (Mateo Zoryan Francis-DeFord) and Mitzi Fabelman (Michelle Williams) in The Fabelmans, co-written and directed by Steven Spielberg.
The Fabelmans (2022). Merie Weismiller Wallace/Universal Pictures and Amblin Entertainment

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"We were sitting around the house in COVID, with one day looking a lot like the next, and my phone beeped and I had a message that Steven wanted to talk to me," she said. "I couldn't comprehend that he might want to work with me. I thought he had a question or something. Then he got on the Zoom and told me that he wanted me to play this person, his mama."

She added of the movie, "It's funny, it's sad, it's kind of everything. It's the muchness of life. We're trying to reflect all of that."

Additionally, Dano, 38, spoke to The Hollywood Reporter in March about the pressure of portraying a version of the Oscar-winning director's father. He explained that "though the relationships are complicated in The Fabelmans, the character is beautiful, and I think his heart is beautiful."

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"Somebody like Steven making a film about his life and you're playing a version of his father … the stakes felt really high. ... You're embodying one of the most important, influential, complicated figures in [Spielberg's] life," said Dano. "It was incredible to see how much of this was in his work the whole time."

"He's sharing a piece of himself that I find very moving," Dano added. "There's a real gift in it, when somebody of that stature and at that level of artistry is willing to do that."

The Fabelmans is in select theaters Nov. 11. It opens nationwide this Thanksgiving.

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