Filmmaker Steven Soderbergh surprised the film community last year when he announced he was set to retire from moviemaking by the time he reached the age of 50 – which will be in 2013. The visionary filmmaker behind such hits as Sex, Lies, and Videotape and Traffic, Soderbergh remains one of our most important directors – and the thought of him retiring while so young leaves many wondering just who will fill the void left in his absence.
Deadline New York recently caught up with Soderbergh – who filled them in on his upcoming projects while also outlining his retirement plans. Yes, the retirement is still on schedule.
Soderbergh tells the site, “I'm still following my plan. I've been stupid about it, I should have kept my mouth shut, but at the same time, I don't think there's anything that unusual about it. By the time I finish with the series of projects I'm planning, it will be 26 or 27 films. That's plenty and if you take volume over quality; I'm twice as good as Kubrick."
It’s good to see Soderbergh is so light-hearted about his impeding golden years, if only because it means he’s going out on his own terms and while he’s still at the top of his game. His joking nature shines through again when he tells Deadline what he hoped would happen by announcing his retirement. “I figured by giving them two years lead time, they would line up those lifetime achievement awards, but there have been no calls or anything," Soderbergh joked. Asked what he would like, he said, tongue firmly in cheek, "The Oprah thing. A year-long daily celebration of my fabulousness would be nice. Or maybe just a smallish parade."
Kidding aside, Soderbergh isn’t exactly easing into his retirement. The director has a full slate of projects in the pipeline between now and January of 2013. Relativity has decided to release his film Haywire – an action thriller starring MMA star Gina Carano as a black ops soldier who’s out for revenge after her superiors betray her. That will be proceeded by Contagion – another thriller, this one about a biological epidemic, stars Matt Damon, Jude Law, Kate Winslet, and Marion Cotillard. Haywire will release several months after Contagion – which pleases Soderbergh, since he’ll be able to promote that lesser-known project while doing publicity for the bigger box office event movie.
In September, Soderbergh will begin working on Magic Mike, a tale of two male strippers – played by Channing Tatum and Alex Pettyfer – coming of age. It’s already being compared to Saturday Night Fever. From there, he’ll reunite with frequent collaborator George Clooney for The Man from U.N.C.L.E.. After that, he’ll apparently wrap up his career with Liberace, starring Michael Douglas and Matt Damon.
Soderbergh does leave the door open to a potential return to directing, telling the site, “Maybe this turns out to be an extended sabbatical, where I recharge myself, but I need an extended break." He cites the feeling of “been there, done that” for sapping his creative juices – making him feel as though he’s simply repeating shots and solutions to narrative problems rather than blazing new ground. It’s almost admirable that Soderbergh would get out now, since so many filmmakers stay in the business when they have nothing left to say.
So, what will Soderbergh do with all this newfound free time? "Probably something visual, and I wouldn't be surprised if I'm still making things, but they will be under the radar and I won't be asking other people to pay for them. When I turn 50 around January 2013, I would like to think I will have blown a kiss goodbye to the industry."
Whatever Soderbergh does after his last movie hits theaters, one thing is for certain – we’ll be waiting to see what it is and we’re sure it will be excellent.