‘The Goonies’: Steven Spielberg Secretly Directed Some Scenes

While you may remember The Goonies as an adventure-filled romp of a movie from your youth, you may not remember that one of the biggest names in Hollywood played a vital role in the film’s production. Steven Spielberg, one of the most successful directors of all time by nearly any metric, was a producer on the movie that was directed by Richard Donner.

While Donner directed the majority of the film, Spielberg found a way to use his directorial talents to make it even stronger. Here’s the story of the film, Spielberg’s role within it, and how he used his ability as a director to aid the production. 

What was the premise of ‘The Goonies?’ 

According to IMDb, The Goonies came out in 1985. The film chronicled the exploits of a rag-tag group of misfit kids known as The Goonies. Their adventures take them in pursuit of a hidden treasure. During their travels, they encounter a mysterious cave, a villain known as Mama Fratelli, and an ally they call Sloth. 

The film was best known for launching the careers of Sean Astin and Josh Brolin, though nearly every role was cast and performed perfectly. The movie combines just the right amount of fun, cheesiness, and pre-adolescent hijinks. Many 80s kids look back on it fondly as one of the hallmarks of the era. When it comes to kid-friendly 80s cinema, The Goonies was one of the top films of the era. 

The official role of Steven Spielberg in the production of ‘The Goonies’

A scene from the 'The Goonies' is photographed
Jeff Cohen, Sean Astin, Corey Feldman and Jonathan Ke Quan in a scene from The Goonies | Warner Brothers/Getty Images

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While Spielberg directed some seminal hits of the 80s (ET, the Indiana Jones series), he also served as an executive producer on many as well. For example, he was the executive producer behind Gremlins. Spielberg has continued to serve in this role during his career in Hollywood. He’s also one of the creative minds behind the highly successful Transformers franchise, even though Michael Bay has directed most of those movies.  

Spielberg served a similar role on The Goonies. He was an executive producer for the film, playing a vital role in helping the film develop creatively.

Sometimes, executive producers don’t play an active role in a film’s development, putting up cash and slapping their name on someone else’s project. That wasn’t the case with Spielberg. According to an interview with Indie Wire, the inspiration for the group in The Goonies came from a group of kids who helped Spielberg overcome his challenges related to an undiagnosed learning disability.

According to Spielberg, making movies like The Goonies was how he coped: 

“I never felt like a victim. Movies really helped me… kind of saved me from shame, from guilt. Making movies was my great escape…When I felt like an outsider, movies made me feel inside my own skill set.”

How Steven Spielberg used his directing skills to help shape ‘The Goonies’

Spielberg is one of Hollywood’s biggest directors for a reason. He typically takes a hands-on approach to many of the projects he’s involved with. This movie was no different. 

According to Mental Floss, Spielberg directed two scenes of the film himself: the wishing well scene, and the scene where the gang bangs away on the underground pipes. This should come as no surprise: this clearly wasn’t just another project for Spielberg.

Along with being an executive producer, he also came up with the film’s story. As evidenced by his struggles as a young man, evidently telling this story meant a lot to the successful director. For him to jump into the director’s chair for a few scenes shows just how dedicated he was to make it work.