Spielberg and Hanks collaborate once again in "Bridge of Spies"

Director Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks on the set of DreamWorks Pictures/Fox 2000 Pictures' dramatic thriller, "Bridge of Spies."

Jaap Buitendijk

Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg are joining forces for the fourth time as actor and director. Their new movie, "Bridge of Spies," opens nationwide Friday.

The Oscar winners' winning partnership this time started with a phone call, reports "CBS This Morning" co-host Gayle King.

"I called Tom, and said that I had got wind of a story that a young playwright from England, Matt Charman, had brought to DreamWorks," Spielberg said.

That story became "Bridge of Spies," a Cold War drama based on true events and steeped in intrigue and espionage.

Tom Hanks plays James Donovan, a lawyer assigned to defend an accused Soviet spy, named Rudolph Abel. Later Donovan is called on to negotiate a prisoner swap -- Abel for American pilot Gary Powers. He had been shot down and was held by the Soviet Union.

"When Matt Charman unearthed the James Donovan, and the spy swap...this was all news to me, and I, you know, called Tom on the phone and said, 'I'd love you to read this,'" Spielberg said.

"When I got the call, I pull out a trumpet, and I blew it really loud, and I took pots and pans, and banged them together. And I cut up the newspaper to form confetti, and threw it all over the house," Hanks said.

Hanks said he is a student of history.

"It's crazy. I gotta-- non-fiction entertainment to me, is more-- is a better way to spend your time than anything that you could possibly make up," he said.

"Movies should open people's eyes to something they knew nothing or very little about," Spielberg said. "Movies should open up possibilities for audiences."

"Isn't it great when you go to the movies, and 'I didn't know that?'" Hanks said.

"Yeah," Spielberg responded.

"I love the collaboration between the two of you, because it seems so easy. Is it as easy as it appears?" King asked.

"It's as easy as the film will let it be," Spielberg said. "Because 'Saving Private Ryan,' we had an easy collaboration, but it was under very difficult circumstances, because that was a tough, tough, dangerous movie to make."

"Saving Private Ryan" was the first time Hanks and Spielberg teamed up as actor and director. That was in 1998, but their friendship goes back to the 1980s.

"Our kids didn't go to the same school, but the carpool hour is universal... And he'd literally be driving past the front of my house, and I'm standing out there playing catch with the kids," Hanks said. "We were waiting for our carpool, and--'Oh, Steven's driving.' And he just slowed down for a little bit, rolled the window down -- saying, 'I'd like to talk, but I gotta get the kids to school.' And then he'd be on his way."

"No, we've been neighbors and friends for such a long time before this, we started professionally working together," Spielberg said.

"Steven, how does one say to Tom Hanks, 'Hm, that was good but could you do that over?'" King asked.

"I guess my mantra is very simple. I say, 'That was great, that was brilliant! Once more. Once more," Spielberg said.

"He comes up and will say things like, 'Oh, [sigh] do something different," Hanks said, laughing. "So, I go, 'OK.'"

"What kind of direction is that? Do something different?" King asked.

"It works," Hanks said. "I remember seeing a long time ago, the making of an Indiana Jones movie, the one where Harrison is on the tank, and you know, and all that kind of stuff. And it shows this thing, and they're setting up this shot, and I remember Harrison Ford was saying-- he was doing something with his hand. He said, 'Steven, how about this in the foreground? Do you like this in the foreground?' And Steven would say, 'Oh, I love it. Keep it in.' And I thought, you get to do that on a Steven Spielberg (film)?"

"Oh, of course you do," Spielberg said.

"He's collaborative, huh, Tom?" King asked.

"Who knew?" Hanks said.

"It's weird. People can make all the assumptions, but the fact of the matter is a movie is like a living, breathing thing," Spielberg said. "And it just keeps evolving. We don't let the cement dry, and then go off and make the entire movie. You know? I don't like the cement to dry until they have to, you know, yank the film out of my hands and put it in movie theaters. Because it's always changing, it's always evolving."

Hanks has now starred in four Spielberg films. He said they are special opportunities for him still, and he loves to share that experience with his fellow actors.

"Because I had done this before, the other guys in the movie came up and said, 'What can we expect?' And I said, 'The best thing that can happen on the set is where Steven disappears, you don't know where he is, and then you see him out of the corner of your eye somewhere on the periphery of the set with a finder up to his eye, and he's just trying to like--"

"What does that mean, Tom, when you see that?" King asked.

"It means he's looking for something that's gonna be solid gold. And you just hope you're in it somewhere," Hanks said.

Watch the video to see what Spielberg and Hanks had to say about "Jaws" in its 40th anniversary year.