Steven Spielberg Not Interested in Making Silvio Berlusconi Biopic

Eric J. Lyman
The Hollywood Reporter
Steven Spielberg Not Interested in Making Silvio Berlusconi Biopic

ROME – Steven Spielberg made an appearance in Italy’s Senate late this week as part of a visit to promote the release here of Lincoln, but also ended up answering a question about a possible movie about Italian media mogul Silvio Berlusconi.

Spielberg said he was not interested in making a film about the billionaire and three-time prime minister. But he expressed hope to make a future film with Oscar-winning Italian comic and director Roberto Benigni.

Spielberg mainly came to Rome to promote the release of Lincoln, which earned 12 Oscar nominations and will open in Italy on Thursday.

However, he also made a stop in the upper house of Italy’s parliament, where the three-time Oscar winner was greeted by Senate president Renato Schifani, who praised him for focusing on “historical themes” in his films. Schifani is a member of the People of Freedom political party that Berlusconi will represent in next month’s elections as he seeks a fourth term as prime minister.

Italian media reported Friday that Spielberg was asked about whether he would consider making a film about Berlusconi, a polarizing figure in Italy credited with transforming Italian politics and the TV sector, but also for going out with young women, his “bunga bunga” sex parties and a series of legal problems. Spielberg demurred, according to press reports, saying that only the late groundbreaking director Federico Fellini, of La Dolce Vita fame, could have made such a film.

Regarding Benigni -- whose 1997 film La Vita e’ Bella (Life is Beautiful) won three Oscars, including for best foreign language film, which makes it Italy’s last winner in that category -- Spielberg said he would like for the two to make a film together. But he did not announce any immediate plans or details on what kind of project he would have in mind.