The Fabelmans: 6 Quick Things We Know About Steven Spielberg’s Semi-Autobiographical Drama

Joe Mazzello in Jurassic Park
(Image credit: Universal Pictures)

For half-a-century now, Steven Spielberg’s best movies have taken generations of audiences on journeys to track and kill massive sharks, put man face-to-face with aliens ranging from harmless to absolutely terrifying, and recreated some of history’s landmark moments. But, rarely has the Academy Award-winning filmmaker given us a peak at his life before he was one of the biggest names in Hollywood. 

That will all change in the very near future with the release of The Fabelmans, Spielberg’s upcoming semi-autobiographical coming-of-age drama, loosely based on his childhood, starring Michelle Williams, Seth Rogen, and multiple other famous names and rising stars. Here’s what we know so far…

Henry Thomas in E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial

(Image credit: Universal Pictures)

The Fabelmans Is Slated For A 2022 Theatrical Release

At this time there is no exact release date for The Fabelmans, but according to The Hollywood Reporter, Universal Pictures (which is carrying the film) is eyeing a 2022 theatrical release date. Expect to hear about a more definite release window and possibly a specific date in the coming months, especially after Steven Spielberg gets through the December 10, 2021 release of his West Side Story remake. However, things quickly change in Hollywood (more so now than ever before), so be on the lookout for all the latest in the coming months.

Michelle Williams in Fosse/Verdon; Seth Rogen in Steve Jobs; Paul Dano in Love and Mercy; Gabriel LaBelle in Dead Shack

(Image credit: FX; Universal Pictures; Lionsgate; Raven Banner)

The Fabelmans Cast Includes Michelle Williams, Seth Rogen, Paul Dano And Gabriel LaBelle

The group of actors that have been assembled to take part in Steven Spielberg’s semi-autobiographical drama is impressive to say the least. Taking on the role of the character loosely based on the filmmaker himself is Gabriel LaBelle, who will play an aspiring filmmaker named Sammy Fabelman. Michelle Williams will be playing Sammy’s mother, a character inspired by Spielberg’s own mother, Leah Adler, who passed away in 2017. Paul Dano will be stepping in as a character influenced by Spielberg’s late father, Arnold Spielberg, and Seth Rogen will be portraying Sammy’s uncle, a character based on Spielberg’s favorite uncle growing up.

Other members of The Fabelmans cast include Judd Hirsch, Jeannie Berlin, and a group of talented young actors led by Once Upon a Time in Hollywood standout, Julia Butters, who will be playing Sammy Fabelman's sister, per Variety. Outside of Gabriel LaBelle’s character, none of the names have been announced at this time.

Henry Thomas, Drew Barrymore, and Robert MacNaughton in E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial

(Image credit: Universal Pictures)

The Fabelmans Is A Coming-Of-Age Drama Loosely Based On Steven Spielberg’s Childhood In Arizona

When The Fabelmans was first revealed in March 2021 (when it was yet to be titled), Deadline reported that the semi-autobiographical coming-of-age drama would be inspired by Steven Spielberg’s formative years growing up in various cities in Arizona, a time in which the one-day acclaimed filmmaker was first introduced to cinema and the art of making movies. At this point, not a lot is known about the movie’s plot and exactly how much of Spielberg’s childhood will be brought into its story, but time will tell.

With the release of The Fabelmans, audiences who have grown up with Steven Spielberg’s movies will get to see how he (or at least a character largely based on him) grew up and became the visionary filmmaker we know today. The Deadline article pointed out that Spielberg has rarely given insight into his early childhood, though he did briefly share a few stories about those days in the 2017 HBO documentary Spielberg.

The Jets and Sharks have a stare-off in West Side Story

(Image credit: 20th Century Studios)

Production On The Fabelmans Got Underway In July 2021

Cameras started rolling on the set of The Fabelmans in July 2021, when production kicked off in Los Angeles, according to Variety. There has not yet been any word on when or if principal photography has wrapped on what has the potential to be Steven Spielberg’s most personal movie yet, but expect to hear more news on this in the coming months. 

Daniel Day-Lewis in Lincoln

(Image credit: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)

Steven Spielberg Co-Wrote The Fabelmans With Longtime Collaborator Tony Kushner

In addition to his duties as the director and executive producer on The Fabelmans, Steven Spielberg also co-wrote the film’s script with longtime collaborator, Pulitzer Prize and Primetime Emmy Award-winning (Angels in America the play in 1993 and the TV miniseries in 2003, respectively) screenwriter Tony Kushner. Over the years, Kushner has written two of Spielberg’s most notable releases of the 21st Century: Munich and Lincoln. The previous two times Kushner and Spielberg collaborated on a project, their films were nominated for various Academy Awards and Golden Globes, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, and various other categories.

Steven Spielberg and Tony Kushner also worked together on the upcoming West Side Story remake, which is surely to add even more acclaim, nominations, and possibly even awards to their impressive collaboration.

Haley Joel Osment in A.I. Artificial Intelligence

(Image credit: Warner Bros. Pictures)

The Fabelmans Is The First Time Steven Spielberg Has Served As A Screenwriter Since A.I Artificial Intelligence In 2001

When The Fabelmans opens in theaters at some point in 2022, it will mark the first time in over 20 years that Steven Spielberg has written one of the scripts for his movies, which makes sense, considering the personal subject matter of the film’s story and inspiration. The last time Spielberg penned one of his own movies was the 2001 release of A.I. Artificial Intelligence, the long-dormant sci-fi dream project of Stanley Kubrick’s in the decades leading up to the filmmaker’s 1999 death. 

Other movies that were written by Spielberg, or at least based on a story he wrote, include The Goonies (story only), Poltergeist, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, The Sugarland Express (story only), Ace Eli and Rodger of the Skies (story only), Amblin’, and his 1964 amateur film Firelight.

At this time, we know quite a bit about The Fabelmans, but there is still a great deal we don’t yet know regarding Steven Spielberg’s promising coming-of-age drama. This includes an exact release date, the names of some of the movie’s major characters, and when we’ll get to see a trailer of the film loosely based on the decorated filmmaker’s upbringing. And, in case you’re wondering, it has not yet been disclosed if John Williams will be stepping in to provide the score for one of the most anticipated upcoming 2022 movies

In the meantime, it’s never too late to check out CinemaBlend’s updated list of 2021 movie premiere dates so you don’t miss anything at your local theater or streaming at home.

Philip Sledge
Content Writer

Philip grew up in Louisiana (not New Orleans) before moving to St. Louis after graduating from Louisiana State University-Shreveport. When he's not writing about movies or television, Philip can be found being chased by his three kids, telling his dogs to stop barking at the mailman, or chatting about professional wrestling to his wife. Writing gigs with school newspapers, multiple daily newspapers, and other varied job experiences led him to this point where he actually gets to write about movies, shows, wrestling, and documentaries (which is a huge win in his eyes). If the stars properly align, he will talk about For Love Of The Game being the best baseball movie of all time.