By Oliver Lyttelton | The Playlist January 9, 2012 at 11:38AM
We're a couple of weeks away from the arrival of the actioner "Haywire," the first of two Steven Soderbergh films getting released this year (to be followed by male stripper drama "Magic Mike" in the summer), but with the director's retirement/hiatus from filmmaking looming, he's not hanging around.
When he couldn't agree with Warner Bros. on the casting and budget for "The Man From U.N.C.L.E," Soderbergh decided to make something else -- a psychological thriller penned by frequent collaborator Scott Z. Burns ("The Informant!," "Contagion") called "The Side Effects" (the project has reverted to its initial title after flirting with the name "The Bitter Pill"). Announced late last year, with several companies vying to make the project, now, two weeks into 2012, The Playlist can reveal that the financing looks to be locked down, and Soderbergh has found his principal cast.
"Gossip Girl" and "Green Lantern" star Blake Lively will topline "The Side Effects" as Emily Hawkins, a woman who turns to prescription meds to cope with the anxiety of the upcoming release from prison of her husband. Channing Tatum, who features in both "Haywire" and "Magic Mike," will make it three in a row by taking the role of the husband, while Jude Law, who was part of the ensemble cast of "Contagion," will play Lively's new psychiatrist. While no deals are officially done, they will be imminently (casting has been underway since early December).
And despite Deadline reporting that financing from "Twilight" studio Summit was a done deal, the company are now no longer involved (perhaps because of their imminent sale to Lionsgate), with Annapurna Pictures, the company headed by billionaire heiress/film fan Megan Ellison, stepping in (that deal’s not done or announced yet it either, but will be shortly). Ellison's continuing her run of backing some of the very best filmmakers around, including John Hillcoat, Andrew Dominik and Paul Thomas Anderson, making up a pretty impressive slate for the next couple of years. Obviously a distributor will have to step in at some point before the film's release, but that’ll be cake, but as of now, the film is financed.
Soderbergh and Law reportedly loved working together on the set of "Contagion" (just as the director and Tatum bonded on "Haywire"), and the actor was one of the names he considered for "The Man From U.N.C.L.E," so it's good to see them working together again. Lively's casting is likely to be more controversial, but it shouldn't be forgotten how impressive the actress was in "The Private Lives of Pippa Lee" and "The Town" -- she's got the lead role here, and it has the potential to be a real career-maker for her.
There's several meaty supporting roles still to be cast, but things are looking very promising already, and it's good to see Soderbergh continuing the approach of somewhat leftfield casting choices he went with on "Haywire" and "Magic Mike." Shooting will start in April for a release in 2013, while you'll be able to see Soderbergh and Tatum's earlier collaborations when "Haywire" hits on January 20th, with "Magic Mike" following on June 27th. His last film for now, HBO's Liberace biopic "Behind the Candelabra," starring Michael Douglas and Matt Damon, will shoot later this year.