Fisher Stevens at IndieWire Honors on the Key to Making a Great Doc Series: ‘Don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover’

On June 6, the 2024 IndieWire Honors ceremony celebrated 13 creators and stars responsible for some of the most stellar work of the TV season. Curated and selected by IndieWire’s editorial team, the event was a new edition of previous IndieWire Honors ceremonies, this time focused entirely on television. We showcased their work with new interviews leading up to the Los Angeles celebration.

“Is your desk very messy or is it very clean?”

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This was the question host Alex Edelman asked renaissance man, actor, filmmaker, and documentarian Fisher Stevens before welcoming him to the stage to accept the Magnify Award at the 2024 IndieWire Honors. It’s a fair ask, as Stevens remains one of the busiest men in Hollywood and abroad. He’s a jack-of-all-trades, starring in films from Wes Anderson, as well as being a part of the hit series “Succession,” producing movies like “Swimfan” and “Uptown Girls,” and taking on documentaries — earning acclaim for pieces like “Before the Flood” and “Bright Lights: Starring Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds,” and winning an Oscar for Best Documentary Feature for 2009’s “The Cove.” Despite this pedigree, accepting the Magnify Award for his most recent project, “Beckham,” which covers the life of soccer phenom David Beckham, Stevens recognized the odd fit he made for the project.

“So I got a call on my way to work one day to meet with David Beckham about making a documentary about his life. And it was really weird,” Stevens said. “Like out of nowhere. Why me? I knew very little about David Beckham. I knew he was good looking, an ex-footballer, played at some point in LA. He peddled a lot of products in his underwear. He’s married to a Spice Girl who now designs clothes. I figured, I’ll take the call, but there’s no way this is ever gonna happen. And then I thought, you know, we do go through life thinking that we know everything about someone and we assume who people are and often they are not who we think they are and we jump to conclusions and doing the David Beckham film really opened my eyes to that adage, ‘Don’t judge a book by its cover.’”

He later added, “I was really grateful to have been given the opportunity to tell David’s story and I knew to tell his story properly that I had to spend a lot of time with this guy, do many interviews, and no subjects were off the table, and to his credit, we spent over 40 hours together and he was an open book at times. Even when he didn’t want to be. And he really didn’t want to be, but I bullied him and kept at him. So I would like to thank David and Victoria for letting me in their lives.”

After giving thanks to his team and calling documentaries a “collaboration,” Stevens also made sure to give his appreciation to the man who got him the job, none other than his “Before the Flood” collaborator Leonardo DiCaprio, joking the recommendation was “nice of him at the end of the day.” Earlier in his speech, Stevens also made sure to acknowledge the work of IndieWire, singling out a piece that helped one of his films garner attention.

“IndieWire I think has — well, excluding myself — great taste,” joked Stevens. “And interesting taste. And has been so supportive of me and my career. I did a movie about an 80 year old scuba diver called ‘Mission Blue’ and Netflix bought it, but Anne Thompson wrote this beautiful piece and IndieWire really helped elevate that and I’ll never forget it. It’s an incredible, incredible publication and I’m so grateful to you for this award.”

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