Steven Spielberg has said “he truly regrets” the “decimation of the shark population” after his hit film Jaws.
The story is a movie classic but unfairly demonised the shark in many people’s eyes, leading to a rise in sports fishing in the US.
Spielberg was asked on the BBC’s Desert Island Discs how he’d feel having real sharks around his island.
“That’s one of the things I still fear,” he said.
“Not to get eaten by a shark, but that sharks are somehow mad at me for the feeding frenzy of crazy sports fishermen that happened after 1975.”
He added: “I truly and to this day regret the decimation of the shark population because of the book and the film. I really, truly regret that.”
The author of the Jaws novel, Peter Benchley, also once spoke of his own regrets.
“What I now know, which wasn’t known when I wrote Jaws, is that there is no such thing as a rogue shark which develops a taste for human flesh,” he said in an interview in 2000.
Spielberg, 75, counts Jaws among his biggest blockbusters along with the likes of Indiana Jones, Jurassic Park and ET.
His latest semi-autobiographical film, The Fabelmans, is about a boy who aspires to be a film-maker in post-war America.
He joked on Desert Island Discs that it was “$40m of therapy”, adding: “I didn’t know really what I was doing, except I was answering a need I had.
“Being an orphan, or recently orphaned by the loss of both parents, to recapture some of those memories in some way that wouldn’t seem too indulgent to actors I really respected. So it was a tight rope for a while.”
“Probably the biggest struggle I had making the film was not to get emotional,” he said.
“But there were times where it just it was out of my control.”
Set for release at the end of January, it stars Michelle Williams, Paul Dano, Seth Rogen and Gabriel LaBelle.
Spielberg said it was “absolutely right” to see him as a “sentimental and nostalgic” person.
He added: “I think nostalgia even more than sentimentality, but I never bristle when I hear that at all unless somebody says it ruined the movie for them…I don’t like that.”