Steven Spielberg Convinced Legendary Composer Not To Retire

Steven Spielberg convinced legendary composer and frequent collaborator John Williams not to retire.

By Phillip Moyer | Published

steven spielberg john williams

Thanks to Steven Spielberg, legendary Star WarsJaws, and Indiana Jones composer John Williams will not be going through with his plans to retire. Why not? As Variety reports, it’s because he simply can’t say no to Steven Spielberg. In an interview alongside Steven Spielberg at the American Cinematheque, John Williams revealed that he was choosing not to retire after being asked whether the next Indiana Jones movie will truly be his last. He did so in a roundabout way — by framing it in terms of how much he respects the Fablemans director.

“Well, Steven is a lot of things,” John Williams said. “He’s a director, he’s a producer, he’s a studio head, he’s a writer, he’s a philanthropist, he’s an educator. One thing he isn’t is a man you can say no to.”

It wasn’t just Steven Spielberg’s influence that convinced John Williams to continue working as a composer. Williams pointed to Spielberg’s father, Arnold, who worked at the Shoah Foundation until his death at age 102, as an inspiration. He also said that it’s impossible to retire from music since music is like breathing to him.

John Williams

“But also, you can’t retire from music,” Williams said. “I said earlier, it’s like breathing. It’s your life. It’s my life. And so a day without music is a mistake.”

Steven Spielberg was taken aback by this admission by John Williams, saying that the composer never revealed his changed retirement plans before that very night. The thrilled Spielberg called this new revelation extraordinary, and said that he now has to “find out what the h*ll I’m doing next.” He made it very clear that he now plans on working closely with Williams in his future films. 

Steven Spielberg has worked with John Williams extensively throughout his long Hollywood career. They first worked together on the 1974 crime film The Sugarland Express, a little-known Spielberg movie starring Goldie Hawn as a woman who helps her husband escape from prison and attempts to kidnap their son with hopes of reuniting her broken family. The next year, Spielberg and Williams worked together on a far more iconic work, Jaws, with Williams composing the film’s iconic theme.

From there, Steven Spielberg and John Williams would work together on many other classic films. These include Close Encounters of the Third Kind, every Indiana Jones movie, E.T. the Extra-TerrestrialEmpire of the Sun, Jurassic ParkSchindler’s ListSaving Private Ryan, and Catch Me If You Can

Steven Spielberg was not the only director with whom Williams had a close professional relationship. Williams has also worked closely with George Lucas, having worked with him on every single Star Wars film — with his 1977 score to the original film being selected as the greatest film score of all time by the American Film Institute. He was involved in the music for every Harry Potter movie and has also worked with famous directors such as Alfred Hitchcock, William Wyler, and Robert Altman.

It’s not just film scores that John Williams has composed, either. He’s written music for the 1984 Olympic games, NBC Sunday Night Football, and NBC News. He has also written music for the TV series Lost in Space, Land of the Giants, and Gilligan’s Island

While Steven Spielberg has welcomed John Williams’ non-retirement enthusiastically, the composer’s road forward remains unclear. Williams is currently not signed onto any other films besides the upcoming Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny. However, given his long history of amazing film scores, he certainly won’t have any problems finding work.