Steven Spielberg Originally Rejected Jaws Theme Thinking It Was A Joke

It’s one of the most famous pieces of movie music ever, but it was almost never used for the film.

John Williams’ simple, terrifying score for Jaws is one of the most iconic in cinema history, helping to elevate the tension in Steven Spielberg‘s 1975 blockbuster.

But when the director originally heard it, he laughed it off, thinking that the star composer was playing a joke on him.

Universal Pictures

At a recent event to discuss 50 years of their collaborations, the pair talked at length about how the Jaws theme came to life, revealing Spielberg’s surprising initial reaction.

Williams said: “You could play it very slowly or very quickly, or soft or loud, so one could manipulate the impression of an audience if you saw nothing but water.

“I showed it to Steven and he said ‘are you serious?!?'”

Universal Pictures

The legendary filmmaker had an explanation for his unbelievable initial reaction though, telling Williams: “I was scared when you first played it for me on the piano.

“You looked up at me and you were smiling, and I started laughing – I didn’t know you that well so I thought you were pulling my leg!”

Luckily, Spielberg was talked into using it and the rest is history: the film was a record-breaking success and we’ve been too scared to go in the water ever since.

Universal Pictures

The pair have remained close collaborators ever since, with Williams receiving his record-breaking 53rd nomination (as well as becoming the all-time oldest nominee overall) for his score for Spielberg’s latest feature, The Fabelmans.

We hope for many collaborations to come, especially now that Williams has done a U-turn on his plans to retire after completing his score for Indiana Jones And The Dial Of Destiny.

Shop our range of Jaws merchandise here.

For all things pop culture, follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok.

Alistair Ryder

Alistair Ryder


Alistair is a culture journalist and lover of bad puns from Leeds. Subject yourself to his bad tweets by following him on Twitter @YesItsAlistair.