OK, so this isn't exactly new and it's something Steven Soderbergh has mentioned a couple times over the last two years so, but the acclaimed director has long been considering retiring once his recent slate of pictures is complete. Back in the fall of 2009, he said he wasn't keen on still directing past of the age of 50 and that he hoped to retire within four years. And it looks like he's still sticking to that plan.
The LA Times recently caught up with Matt Damon, who is currently shooting "Contagion" with the director, and he revealed that retirement is still very much the plan for Soderbergh. "He's retiring, he's been talking about it for years and it's getting closer," Damon said. So why is Soderbergh looking to move on from the filmmaking world? He's just kind of bored and done with it.
"He wants to paint and he says he’s still young enough to have another career," Damon said. "He’s kind of exhausted with everything that interested him in terms of form. He’s not interested in telling stories. Cinema interested him in terms of form and that’s it. He says, 'If I see another over-the-shoulder shot, I’m going to blow my brains out.' " We feel you on that one, Steven.
So, if indeed Soderbergh lives the American dream of retiring very early, what will his last batch of films look like? Leave it to a very chatty Damon to map it out. “After this movie we’re doing ‘Liberace’ next summer with Michael Douglas, and then he might do one more movie after that with George [Clooney], and then after that he’s retiring."
As you might recall, Soderbergh recently signed on to direct the long gestating big screen adaptation of "The Man From U.N.C.L.E." with George Clooney attached in the lead role. This is what Soderbergh's plate currently looks like: "And Everything Is Going Fine" is currently in theaters; "Contagion" is shooting and he'll get it ready for a fall 2011 release; "Haywire" is in the can will hit in the spring of 2011; "Liberace" will shoot next summer and depending on schedules, "The Man From U.N.C.L.E." will go in front of cameras in late 2011 or early 2012. And then, Soderbergh will start painting or stamp collecting or advocating for pay-per-view pornography being made available in every hotel across the country. But while we'll certainly be saddened that one of our favorite filmmakers will no longer lend his skills to cinema, we can't fault him either for wanting to take a step away and try something different. But Damon, is clearly a bit more upset about it.
"After I worked with Clint [Eastwood] I went back and said, ‘Look, Clint is having a blast and he's going to be 80 years old.’ And Steven says back, ‘Yeah, but he’s a storyteller and I’m not,’” Damon recounted. "If you're an actor or a writer or someone working in film, it's such a waste. For me, I'm going to spend the next 40 years trying to become a great director and I will never reach what he's reached. And he's walking away from it."
Soderbergh has always been his own toughest critic (he once said "Che" was a "a mistake from day one”) and it looks like he's finished spending 25 years trying to chase that elusive "great picture." Clearly, he believes he doesn't have what it takes (how wrong he is) and if we had to guess, we could see the helmer stepping away from Hollywood for a few years, recharging, reassessing and then making a roaring return. Clearly, there is something he does find compelling about the medium to have kept him in the game for this long but it seems like he needs to find out what that was. Wherever he goes, we'll be curious about what he's up to next. But for now, the sands in the hourglass are moving and we certainly seem to be in Soderbergh's cinematic twilight years.