'You're Not Going to Have Steven Soderbergh to Kick Around Anymore;' Prolific Director Reaffirms Plans to Retireby: Posted:
Steven Soderbergh is one of the most prolific directors to have worked in film since the studio era, when contracted directors commonly turned out two, three, four, even five films each year.
The difference between your Michael Curtiz and your Steven Soderbergh, however, is that studio directors did just that - they directed. They typically didn't write and were often barred from the editing room. They were there to keep the set running and the actors happy and that was pretty much the end of it.
Soderbergh, meanwhile, has been writing, directing, and editing over twenty films over the last thirty years, including "Erin Borkovich," "Traffic," "Che" and the "Oceans Eleven" films, as well as unconventional films like "Bubble" and "Sex, Lies and Videotape." Since 2000, he's also served as his own director of photography. So it's weird to think that in a few short years we'll go more than a year without a Steven Soderbergh film.
"When you reach the point where you're like, 'If I have to get into a van and do anouther scout, I'm just going to shoot myself,' it's time to let somebody else who's still excited about getting in the van, get in the van," he told Studio 360's Kurt Anderson.
Soderbergh first mentioned he might be facing retirement in an interview with Esquire in early 2009, but many chalked that up to sheer burnout. "Che" had just come out to mostly dismissive reviews, leading Soderbergh to say he wished he'd never made the film, and he'd just lost the job directing "Moneyball."
But when Matt Damon reiterated Soderbergh's wish for a second career last December, suddenly it seemed like his musings might be true. And now that appears to in fact be the case.
"It's just a sense of having been there before," Soderbergh went on to say in the Studio 360 interview.
"The making of any art is problem solving, and as you work at it, you're able to eliminate the versions that aren't any good faster, but at a certain point the salves sort of become the same. And when I started feeling like I've done this shot before, I've done a scene that's about this before, that's when I started thinking seriously about a shift. But I also don't want to leave, you know, when you see those athletes hang on one or two seasons too long. It's kind of sad."
While some directors certainly have that problem - just what made Rob Reiner so boring in the last ten years? - many filmmakers of Soderbergh's stature are able to remain relevant through different phases in their careers. Perhaps Soderbergh just worked too much, and in the last few years, saw little return on his creative investment. His films over the last decade have been universally dismissed, even though they represent many of his best ("Che," certainly, and the woefully underrated "The Informant!" is hilarious in a completely new way, and surprisingly touching).
Soderbergh has "Contagion" (in which an all-star cast deals with a viral outbreak) and "Haywire" (an action thriller, believe it or not) coming out this year. He'll follow that up with "Liberace," a biopic of the famous showman, starring Michael Douglas and Matt Damon, and end it all with George Clooney in "The Man From U.N.C.L.E."