Following his recent flirtation with sobering sci-fi movies in "A.I." and "Minority Report", King of Hollywood Steven Spielberg dons the royal baseball cap at a jauntier angle for true-life crime caper "Catch Me If You Can".
What was it that attracted you to the story of Frank Abagnale?
His chutzpah and his imagination in the scams and stings he pulled off were so imaginative and so courageous. Amazing. In a way, he's sort of the anti-hero that you root for, even though you know he's going to have to pay a price and go to jail.
Did you stick to the script religiously, or did you improvise at all during filming?
I'm more critical than anybody can possibly be. I'm more critical when the movie's done, saying, "I wish I'd done this. I wish I'd done that." You know, a lot of things are a complete ad-lib. I would change an entire scene and improvise it to make it more like Frank told me. He's a consultant on this film and I listened to what he said.
So how do you think Leo DiCaprio succeeds in bringing Frank Abagnale to life?
I think what Frank did in real life and what Leo does in portraying him are the same thing. They both use social camouflage. Basically, that's changing and switching occupations. I think Frank, like Leo, has a dazzling IQ. You understand in just meeting Frank how he could just pull the wool over your eyes, and there's something of that in Leo.
What about Tom Hanks as Agent Hanratty?
Tom Hanks brings a kind of bureaucratic quality, which I've never seen Tom do before. He also has the patience of Job in this cat-and-mouse race. He has this kind of tenacity and patience which you start to laugh at, because his patience is almost funny.
How do you feel about Leo DiCaprio starring in "Gangs of New York" at the same time as you're releasing your own film?
Well, we have such a strong picture and it's so much fun. I think the audience is really smart and they'll see this and they'll probably see "Gangs of New York" as well. It just shows how wonderfully versatile Leo is as an actor. And of course in "Catch Me If You Can", Leo kisses a lot of girls!