Steven Spielberg Praises Emma Gonzalez’s ‘Profound’ Speech at March for Our Lives: ‘Everybody Was Crying’

'Ready Player One' film premiere
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At the premiere of “Ready Player One” in Los Angeles, Steven Spielberg was full of admiration for the high school student activists.

Spielberg, who attended March for Our Lives in Washington, D.C. on March 24, praised Emma Gonzalez from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in particular.

“We were so proud of every speaker,” Spielberg said. “Emma Gonzalez’s six and-a-half minutes of silence was profound. Everybody was crying.”

Gonzalez is a survivor of the Feb. 14 massacre at the high school and a co-founder of the gun control advocacy group Never Again MSD. Spielberg said he was hopeful about the impact of the activism.

“College students helped stop the Vietnam War,” Spielberg said. “Maybe high school students can do something about gun control.”

“Ready Player One” held its premiere at the Dolby Theater on Monday night. The 71-year-old said he was in awe of the special effects work in “Ready Player One” and spoke about how far special effects have come over the past 40 years, noting that he saw a rough cut of his friend George Lucas’ “Star Wars” more than four decades ago.

“These artists are exceptional with their ability to create this kind of believability in a totally digital world,” he said at the TCL Chinese Theater.

Spielberg also mused on the red carpet about star Lena Waithe. “She sees life around her and she knows how to write that life around her and put it on TV,” he said. “There was something about her that I knew would be perfect for my movie.”

Waithe won an Emmy for her writing on the “Thanksgiving” episode on Netflix’s “Master of None,” which was partly based on her own experience of coming out to her mother. In “Ready Player One,” she portrays the wisecracking Helen/Aech character.


Other participants on the red carpet said Spielberg was constantly surprising them on the set. Screenwriter Zak Penn recalled that there was a new nugget every day — such as discovering that Spielberg had been a second unit director on Brian de Palma’s “Scarface” and that Penn had worked with him in “Men In Black” and “The Mask of Zorro.”

For Simon Pegg, who plays the Ogden Morrow role, being in the film was a trip back in time, since much of it is based in 1980s pop culture.

“I had posters of ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark,’ ‘E.T.’ and ‘Star Wars,’ of course, so this  is my era,” he added. “This is like looking back into my childhood.”

Ben Mendelsohn, who plays the villain role, said working with Spielberg was a surprise.

“It’s very different from what you expect it to be,” he added. “You don’t expect the degree of infectious enthusiasm that he brings to work. It’s like nothing I’ve ever experienced.”

Hannah John-Kamen noted that Spielberg was a big fan of show tunes on the set such as those from “Singin’ in the Rain” and “Guys and Dolls.” “He’s got a great singing voice,” she added.

Besides Spielberg, producers on the film are Donald De Line, Dan Farah and Kristie Macosko Krieger. Warner Bros. opens “Ready Player One” on March 29.