To those who know their whole history, it may seem surprising that there was never any bad blood between Steven Spielberg and the late Richard Attenborough — unless you want to count the prehistoric kind drawn from those amber-encased mosquitos in Jurassic Park, the one big project they made together.
The two filmmakers, separated in age by more than a generation, were rivals who became collaborators and eventually friends. When Attenborough died at age 90 on Sunday, he left behind a legacy as an actor, director, and philanthropist — but the story of his relationship with Spielberg is evidence of another defining trait: gentleman.
Their complicated camaraderie began after the pair crossed paths at the most critical point in each of their careers — 1982, when Attenborough finally completed his 20-year quest to make the biographical drama Gandhi, and Spielberg finished a deeply personal film that stands as one of the best movies ever made about families: E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.
Those two films couldn’t have been more different, but were destined for eternal comparison after becoming competitors at the 55th Academy Awards.