Richard Dreyfuss is shutting down claims that he and his Jaws co-star Robert Shaw feuded behind the scenes of the classic Steven Spielberg film. Their long-rumored feud is currently the subject of Broadway play The Shark Is Broken, which was co-written and stars Shaw’s son, Ian Shaw.
Dreyfuss revealed in a recent interview that he attended a performance of the play to “see if it really was gonna hurt.”
“And it did,” he said.
The actor expressed that he hadn’t been approached at all while the play was being created. Ian reportedly used his father’s diary to learn more about their alleged “feud.”
“It was pretty awful. Ian — who has more than any right to write whatever he wants — never called me and said, ‘Give me some background.’ Or, ‘Give me your take on this and this,’” Dreyfuss said.
“They just decided to make my character a big jerk… The problem is that they made my character the fool. They didn’t do that to Roy [Scheider], and they didn’t do that to Robert,” he continued. “And that hurt because it wasn’t true.”
The actor recalled that they were known for joking around while on set at the time but they “didn’t take any of that seriously.” He only named one incident in which he remembered getting upset with Shaw on set, but maintained, “That was not a feud… We never had any bad feeling between us, ever.”
Dreyfuss placed some of the blame for this misconception on Spielberg and Jaws co-writer Carl Gottlieb.
“I don’t think they just gave it any thought that it would hurt me, and it did,” he said. “I have to say that Carl and Steven knew better, knew that there was no feud. There was an ongoing kind of humor between us.”
He added, “I have enormous respect for Steven’s talent as a director. I guess I don’t have as much for his talent as a friend.”
As the only surviving lead star of the movie, Dreyfuss said he wanted to “speak for us, how it really was.”
The Shark Is Broken is playing until Nov. 19.