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Soderbergh Talks Non-Actors, Actors and Accuracy -- 'It's Dangerous To Get Them Thinking Too Much"

Photo of Beth Hanna By Beth Hanna | Thompson on Hollywood December 31, 2012 at 2:04PM

As we eagerly await Steven Soderbergh's "Side Effects" (February 8) and his HBO Liberace movie "Behind the Candelabra," check out his interview with Indiewire from early 2012. In it, Soderbergh discusses his two 2012 releases, "Haywire" and "Magic Mike," and reveals why he likes non-actors and has a problem with accuracy...
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Steven Soderbergh
Steven Soderbergh

As we eagerly await Steven Soderbergh's "Side Effects" (February 8) and his HBO Liberace movie "Behind the Candelabra," check out his interview with Indiewire from early 2012. In it, Soderbergh discusses his two 2012 releases, "Haywire" and "Magic Mike," and reveals why he likes non-actors and has a problem with accuracy. Highlights below.

The trailer for "Side Effects" is here.

On his tendency to cast non-actors:

Well, I’ve been doing this for a while. I’ve been working since “Traffic” with real people who aren’t actors. I like it. I think they have a quality that’s refreshing. But you have to be careful. You have to make sure you’ve sort of reverse engineered everything to play to who they are and what they are. If you try to push them out of that, you’re not going to get a good result.

On his "doing-not-thinking" directing style:

Look, it’s always great if you can find things for [actors or non-actors] to do. I’m always trying to figure out a way to keep the conversation about what’s being done as opposed to what you’re supposed to be feeling. If you can ground it in some sort of physicality, I feel that everything seems to flow the way it should... Even with a trained actor, it’s dangerous to get them thinking too much. You don’t want them thinking, you want them doing.

On his need for accuracy, and why it drove him away from "Moneyball":

I’m less prone to change things now that I would have been 10, 15 years ago. “Moneyball” is the perfect example of that. At the end of the day, part of my problem with [that film] was my refusal to do something that didn’t happen. I wanted the movie to be absolutely accurate in every particular.

[My insistance on using documentary footage in "Moneyball"] was a sort of slow-motion car wreck when it finally landed on everyone just how rigorous I was being about that. There was a bit of a, "Well, wait a minute." And I get it. That was the only way I knew how to do it and it was the only way I wanted to do it. If that’s not the way it’s going to get done, then you should get rid of me.

This article is related to: Interviews, Steven Soderbergh, Steven Soderbergh, Side Effects, Interviews , Haywire, Magic Mike


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Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.