The recently released HBO Max feature, The Little Things starring the combined talents of Jared Leto, Rami Malek, and Denzel Washington, has proven to be a success despite the mixed reviews it has received from viewers and critics alike, though there have been many who have appreciated John Lee Hancock’s direction and screenplay. But did you know that Hancock almost didn’t direct the film and it was instead supposed to be helmed by renowned filmmaker Steven Spielberg?
Originally Steven Spielberg was set to direct The Little Things
It is widely known that John Lee Hancock penned the initial draft of the script for The Little Things Back in 1993 but what many don’t know is that he planned on Steven Spielberg to helm the film. But when the director read the script, he decided to opt-out of his deal with Hancock. In a recent chat with Cinemablend, Hancock shared why Steven Spielberg backed out of the project after agreeing to direct it in the first place.
“Steven really liked A Perfect World, my script for it. And so before we ever went into production on A Perfect World, he came to me and said, ‘Let’s do a blind picture deal. … Let’s just do it at Warner Brothers. Something for you to write and meet to direct.’ … So we started pitching ideas back and forth. I came up on this one (The Little Things), I can’t remember exactly when, and fell in love with it,” he shared.
“The twists and turns. I wrote a long outline and then talked to him on the phone about it after he read it. And I think I faxed him the outline. … He really liked it. He said, ‘This is really, really good storytelling. It’s just too dark for me right now. I’m finishing Schindler’s List. I can’t live in this dark world again.’ And I understood that completely,” he further added.
The script of The Little Things was with Warner Bros. for years
In an interview last year, Hancock had shared how his script of The Little Things remained under Warner Bros. control after Spielberg and many other directors showed no interest in directing the film.
“I didn’t know if Warner Bros would necessarily be interested in making it. But they owned it and there was no underlying material. It was something I made up, and way back then, they didn’t pay me a lot to write it. So there wasn’t a lot of money against it. I had just done a movie for Netflix and I thought if Warner Bros doesn’t want to do it, Netflix might, and Warner Bros might let me take it out of there.”
“Then, Warner Bros read it; Courtney Ballenti was the only one who was still around from back then who read it before. She said, before we even consider giving it away in turnaround, we all have to read it. Two weeks later, Courtenay came back and said, I’ve got bad news and good news. Everybody loved the script, but if they don’t make it, I’m not sure they will let it get outside the walls,” he had shared in a chat with Deadline.
But years later, The Little Things became a mega project with a star cast and as Hancock said, “it had a life of its own after 30 years.”