Steven Spielberg is one of the world’s most successful and influential filmmakers, and is currently chairman of Amblin Partners, a corporate descendent of DreamWorks, SKG, which he co-founded in 1994. Among a host of career accolades, he is a three-time Academy Award® winner, a Kennedy Center Honoree, a recipient of the Irving G. Thalberg Award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2015 from President Barack Obama.
Spielberg is the top-grossing director of all time, having helmed such blockbusters as Jaws (1975), E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982), the Indiana Jones franchise, and Jurassic Park (1993). He took home his first two Oscars®—Best Director and Best Picture—for the internationally lauded Schindler’s List (1993), which received a total of seven Oscars®. The film was also named the Best Picture of 1993 by many of the major critics’ organizations, in addition to winning seven BAFTA Awards and three Golden Globe® Awards, both including Best Picture and Director. Spielberg also won the Directors Guild of America (DGA) Award for his work on the film.
Spielberg won his third Academy Award® —Best Director—for the World War II drama Saving Private Ryan, which was the highest-grossing release (domestically) of 1998. It was also one of the year’s most honored films, earning four additional Oscars®, as well as two Golden Globe® Awards, for Best Picture—Drama and Best Director, and numerous critics’ groups awards in the same categories. Spielberg also won another DGA Award and shared a Producers Guild of America (PGA) Award with the film’s other producers. That same year, the PGA also presented Spielberg with the prestigious Milestone Award for his historic contribution to the motion picture industry.
He has also earned Academy Award® nominations for Best Director for West Side Story (2021), Lincoln (2012), Munich (2005), E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), and Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977). Additionally, he earned DGA Award nominations for those films, as well as Amistad (1997), Empire of the Sun (1987), The Color Purple (1985), and Jaws. With 12 to date, Spielberg has been honored by his peers with more DGA Award nominations than any other director. In 2000, he received the DGA’s Lifetime Achievement Award. He is also the recipient of the Irving G. Thalberg Award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the Hollywood Foreign Press’s Cecil B. DeMille Award, the Kennedy Center Honor, and numerous other career tributes.
In 2012, Spielberg directed Lincoln, based in part on author Doris Kearns Goodwin’s Team of Rivals. The film garnered 12 Academy Award® nominations, winning two Oscars®, for Best Actor for Daniel Day-Lewis’s portrayal of the iconic 16th President and for Best Production Design.
Spielberg’s 2015 dramatic thriller, Bridge of Spies, starring Tom Hanks, received six Academy Award® nominations including Best Picture, with Mark Rylance winning the Oscar® for Best Supporting Actor. That same year, he was also an executive producer on Jurassic World, which earned over $1.6 billion worldwide. Directed by Colin Trevorrow and starring Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard, it was the fourth film in the Jurassic series. A follow-up to the blockbuster, directed by J.A. Bayona, was released in 2018, with a sixth film, Jurassic World Dominion, slated for release in 2022.
Spielberg directed and produced the 2017 drama The Post, starring Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks. The film earned two Academy Award® nominations, one for Best Picture, as well as Meryl Streep’s 21st nod for Best Actress. He also directed the 2018 film Ready Player One, based the science fiction novel by Ernest Cline, which became an instant blockbuster and would go on to earn over $580m worldwide.
Most recently, Spielberg directed the reimagining of West Side Story, which earned seven Academy Award® nominations including Best Picture, and is in post-production on The Fabelmans, a semi-autobiographical film, which he cowrote with his longtime collaborator Tony Kushner.
Spielberg’s career began with the 1968 short film, “Amblin,” which led to him becoming the youngest director ever signed to a long-term studio deal. He directed episodes of such TV shows as Night Gallery, Marcus Welby, M.D., and Columbo, and gained special attention for his 1971 telefilm, Duel. Three years later, he made his feature film directorial debut on The Sugarland Express (1974), from a screenplay he co-wrote. His next film was Jaws, which was the first film to break the $100 million mark at the box office.
In 1984, Spielberg formed his own production company, Amblin Entertainment. Under the Amblin Entertainment banner, he served as producer or executive producer on such hits as Gremlins (1984), The Goonies (1985), the Back to the Future trilogy, Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988), An American Tail (1986), Twister (1996), The Mask of Zorro (1998), and the Men in Black films.
10 years later, Spielberg partnered with Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen to form the original DreamWorks Studios. The studio enjoyed both critical and commercial successes, including three consecutive Best Picture Academy Award® winners: American Beauty (1999), Gladiator (2000), and A Beautiful Mind (2001). In its history, DreamWorks also produced or coproduced a wide range of features, including the Transformers blockbusters; Clint Eastwood’s World War II dramas Flags of Our Fathers and Letters from Iwo Jima (both 2006), the latter earning a Best Picture Oscar® nomination; Meet the Parents (2001) and Meet the Fockers (2004); and The Ring (2002), to name only a few. Under the DreamWorks banner, Spielberg also directed such films as War of the Worlds (2005), Minority Report (2002), Catch Me If You Can (2002), and A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001).
Spielberg founded Amblin Partners in 2015 with investment partners Reliance Entertainment, Entertainment One, Alibaba Pictures, Participant Media, and Universal Pictures. The company’s recent theatrical releases include 1917 (2019), which won three Academy Awards® and grossed $385m at the global box office, and Green Book (2018), which won three Academy Awards®, including Best Picture, and grossed more than $320m worldwide.
Spielberg has not limited his success to the big screen. He was an executive producer on the long-running Emmy-winning NBC TV drama E.R. On the heels of their experience on Saving Private Ryan, he and Tom Hanks teamed to executive produce the 2001 HBO miniseries, Band of Brothers, based on Stephen Ambrose’s book about a U.S. Army unit in Europe in World War II.
Among its many awards, the project won both Emmy® and Golden Globe® Awards for Outstanding Miniseries. He and Hanks then reunited to executive produce the acclaimed 2010 HBO miniseries, The Pacific, this time focusing on the Marines in WWII’s Pacific theatre. The Pacific won eight Emmy® Awards, including Outstanding Miniseries. A third series, Masters of the Air, is currently in production for Apple TV+.
Among the shows Spielberg also executive produced were the Emmy®-winning Syfy Channel miniseries Taken, the TNT miniseries Into the West, the Showtime series The United States of Tara, NBC’s Smash, TNT’s Falling Skies, as well as CBS’s Under the Dome and Extant. He was also an executive producer on the HBO Films movie All the Way (2016), starring Emmy® winner Bryan Cranston, and the Netflix docuseries Five Came Back. Amblin Television was a producer of FX’s The Americans, which earned four Emmy® wins, including two wins for Margo Martindale for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series. The series also won Peabody Awards in 2015 and 2019 and was a perennial recipient of the AFI Award for TV Program of the Year.
Spielberg has devoted much of his time and resources to many philanthropic causes. He formed The Righteous Persons Foundation by using all his profits from the release of Schindler’s List, and soon thereafter founded the Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation, which in 2006 became the USC Shoah Foundation – The Institute for Visual History and Education. The Institute has recorded more than 55,000 video testimonies with survivors and other witnesses of the Holocaust and other genocides and is dedicated to making the testimonies a compelling voice for education and action.
In 2021, Spielberg and Kate Capshaw formally launched The Hearthland Foundation, a philanthropic fund to help build a more just, equitable, and connected America. Inspired by the words of the poet Langston Hughes, “O, let America be America again—The land that never has been yet—And yet must be,” Hearthland is founded on the belief that creating a better shared future for our country calls for relationships that cross divides and the moral imagination for what is possible. To that end, the foundation has three overlapping areas of focus: building a shared democracy, telling an honest and generative narrative about this country, and fostering a culture of accompaniment.