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Steven Spielberg, one of the most well-known directors of all time, wasn't always one of the most well-known directors of all time. In his late teens, he used to sneak onto the Universal lot with an expired three-day pass and watch TV shows get made. That three-day pass lasted him three months, and Spielberg got to see a ton of stuff that he would apply to his own career down the road. However, he was still a 16 year old kid who wasn't supposed to be there and one time he got kicked off the set of another superstar director: Alfred Hitchcock.
Entertainment Weekly got the chance to tour the Universal lot with Steven Spielberg, in order to talk about The BFG and the rest of his legendary career. The director even shared some stories about his earliest experiences with the studio that he would make his home. EW asked him if he ever saw any famous filmmakers during his unofficial time on the set as a teenager, and Spielberg answered with delight, "Hitchcock! But I got thrown off that set very quickly." Spielberg had wandered onto the set of Torn Curtain and could see Alfred Hitchcock himself talking to Julie Andrews. and he explains his expulsion as follows:
I was on the Phantom of The Opera stage and they were far away. I had just come in through the back of the theater, and there were 500 extras in the seats. That's when an AD, or a second AD, maybe even a third AD -- I got kicked off by a third AD! He said "why are you here," and I said "I'm just here to watch," and he said "no, this is a closed set," and that was the end of it.
I would love to know if that AD ever found out he kicked out Steven Spielberg, because I was that person, I'd tell that story for the rest of my life.
Getting back to The Adventures of Young Spielberg, the director says that his time sneaking around the lot gave him a master class lesson in editing. Spielberg could only spend so much time on the sound stages before someone could question him, so he learned more going into the editing room and watching the editors cut film. As he tells it, he was honest with them about sneaking in, but no one ever blew the whistle on him. He would just look over their shoulders the whole time to see what they were doing. Apparently, he became good enough friends with the editors that they started pulling pranks on him. In an absolute gem of a story, Spielberg remembers how the editors tricked him into walking in on a naked Marlon Brando.
You can listen to that story and see the rest of Spielberg's Universal tour in the video here. It's definitely worth the 10-minute runtime and you get to see a lot of sound stages from movies like War of the Worlds, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, The Lost World: Jurassic Park, and Psycho.