With an acting career that stretches from American Graffiti to Stand By Me and Mr Holland's Opus to Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Richard Dreyfuss, has plenty to talk about.

But he knows all most people at this weekend's Supernova convention will want to discuss is Jaws, the 1975 monster hit that became the first modern blockbuster.

Richard Dreyfuss has heard every question there is about Jaws.

Photo: Supplied

"I have a deal," he says. "Whenever I have an audience and they ask questions, I say, 'If you want to ask me anything about Jaws, let's do it like this. You ask me a question that I've never heard and I'll give you $10. You ask me a question I have heard and you owe me $10'. And I'm way ahead on that one."

Perhaps he hasn't heard this question: is the shark in Jaws really a villain?

"No, I think the shark is doing what its evolutionary mandate is telling it to do and that's it."Peter Benchley wrote the novel and felt fine about writing it.


"He had no idea that the film would kind of unearth this toxic paranoia that has been with us ever since. He really died of a broken heart. He didn't want everyone to go out and try and kill as many sharks as they could."

It's since been well documented that the dummy shark was mostly a dud.

"The shark never worked," says Dreyfuss.

Yet what did work was the acting of Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw and Dreyfuss, who together convinced us a dodgy animatronic shark really was a creature of terror.

Two years later, Dreyfuss won the Best Actor Oscar for The Goodbye Girl, becoming the youngest actor to win that award (a record which held until Adrien Brody won for 2002's The Pianist).

"I will be the first to admit that the worst thing to happen to me was winning an Oscar too soon … I couldn't hold it out in front of me as a great thing to reach for."

Dreyfuss even retired from filmmaking in 2004 and attended Oxford University to pursue an interest in civics.

Most recently, he received kudos for his performance as fraudster Bernie Madoff in the 2016 mini-series Madoff.

Yet Dreyfuss, 70, still has a keen eye back on where it all began – and he has a dream.

He'd like to throw a giant party for his peers: for those whose careers began in the amazingly rich cinematic period of the 1970s, a powerful era that gave us Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, Dreyfuss and more.

"We should have a party … for all the actors, all the actresses, all the directors and editors. [For] those of us who started in the '70s who went on to make art and money and changed the world and affected people all over the place.

"And I think we should get together and toast ourselves before we leave. Before I die, I want to acknowledge that I lived, and I want to do it among my peers."

That sounds like one fantastic party.

"And the only place we could probably pull it off is Central Park. And I'm going to keep talking about it and see what happens."

Supanova is at Sydney Showground from June 15-17. Richard Dreyfuss will appear on June 16-17.

Most Viewed in Entertainment

Morning & Afternoon Newsletter

Delivered Mon–Fri.