Steven Soderbergh talks about his retirement, becoming a ‘a primitive’ and the next iternation of cinema
Soderbergh on the set of 'Magic Mike' (Photo: Warner Bros)
Steven Soderbergh will talk to you only in 45-minute chunks of time. For most press junkets, the standard interview time is a mere 4 minutes. So when I got a chance to interview the director of "Magic Mike," we had plenty of time to talk.
Soderbergh has had one of the most enviable careers out there. The director has made Oscar favorites like "Traffic," Hollywood blockbusters like "Ocean's Eleven," and art-house flicks like "The Girlfriend Experience" and "Che." Most remarkably, he navigates these very different spheres of filmdom without changing the way he makes movies. Soderbergh not only directs but also shoots and edits his films, no matter what the scale of the project.
Recently, Soderbergh has been making movies at a breakneck rate. Since 2011, he's cranked out five flicks, including "Side Effects," which comes out this week, and a Liberace biopic for HBO, "Beyond the Candelabra." When the latter airs sometime later this year, that will be it, according to the director. He's either retiring from big-budget movie making or he's taking a long extended break. He's not sure.
In this interview, the first of two parts, Soderbergh talks about what he wants to do during his retirement. It looks as though a Hawaiian vacation or catching up with his stamp collection isn't at the top of his priority list. No, Soderbergh wants to take time away from the Hollywood rat race to reinvent the language of cinema.
JC: I just got done with the "Stoker" junket. So I'm still a little fried.
SS: Yeah, yeah. Press junkets are a very specific form of psychological torture for everyone involved.
JC: Yes, I can't imagine what it would be like to be on the other side of that. Answer the same questions every four minutes.
SS: It's really bad. There's no scenario once you don't hate yourself. It's impossible. Matt [Damon] and I talked about that when we were doing "The Informant." We're talking about waterboarding, and he was like, "F*** that. You get the worst terrorist zealot and junket him for three days and we'll break him. We will totally break him."
JC: I believe it.
SS: That's why I have these rules about doing long interviews, because you can't get anywhere. I wanted it to be a dialogue. When I was in the U.K. doing press for [his fourth feature] "The Underneath," I was very upfront with how frustrated I was with the movie. It turned out to be a very important film for me because I realized that I was, as a filmmaker, heading in a direction that I didn't want to be heading in. It led to me to stop. And then I was able to make "Schizopolis" and "Grey's Anatomy" and then "Out of Sight" and all that. I needed to have that experience to break me out of this rut. You should've seen the looks on people's faces when I would say, "I'm not a fan of this movie."
JC: So what direction were you afraid of going?
SS: I was becoming a formalist. The movies were becoming very, very sealed off. Life was being sort of kept out of them somehow. I knew the solution was to go back to grass roots and start over. Go off and make these little weird things just to blow it out. That was what I needed to do. Now, what I'm going through is different. Then I knew what the solution was to my dilemma. I know I have to just stop. I can't slough off this skin while I'm in the middle of making a movie.