Road to the Oscars 2023: Tony Kushner talks co-writing ‘The Fabelmans’ with Steven Spielberg

Universal Pictures

When Steven Spielberg wants to write a movie with you, you write a movie with Steven Spielberg. That’s what happened to Tony Kushner, who co-wrote and produced The Fabelmans alongside the acclaimed director. Their film is up for seven Oscars at this year’s Academy Awards, including nominations for Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay.

So, how does one go about co-writing a film? Kushner tells ABC Audio about their process, which started during the COVID lockdowns in 2020.

“First, we just did Zoom calls, and talked about the outline and stuff like that,” Kushner says. “Then, when it was time to write – Final Draft software has a feature called collaboration, where two people can type on the same document at once.”

While both men had access to the document, Kushner says he was doing most of the heavy lifting, typing-wise.

“I’m a much better typer than Steven is. I’m not a great typist, but Steven really isn’t fast. So, I did all the typing, but he could see what I was doing,” Kushner says. “We were on Zoom so we could look at each other. And we did it three days a week, four hours a day for two months, and we finished the screenplay.”

The Fabelmans, which follows a fictional story inspired by Spielberg’s childhood, has already taken Kushner around the awards circuit this year.

“You get to meet people whose work you really love, and then sometimes they become friends and that’s a nice thing,” Kushner says.

There was one celebrity interaction in particular that Kushner considers his highlight.

“The day after the Golden Globes my husband and I got to have breakfast with Jennifer Coolidge,” Kushner says. “I think it was, like, the prize for the whole season.”

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