Steven Soderbergh Talks Post-Retirement Plans, Painting, Twitter, BEHIND THE CANDELABRA, Comic Book Movies, and More

     February 7, 2013


Over the past few days, we’ve been sharing portions of Steve’s recent lengthy interview with director Steven Soderbergh.  The two sat down in anticipation of the filmmaker’s psychological thriller Side Effects, which opens this Friday, but the conversation covered a wide-range of topics.  If all goes according to plan, Side Effects will be Soderbergh’s penultimate feature film, with the HBO Liberace biopic Behind the Candelabra, starring Michael Douglas and Matt Damon, serving as Soderbergh’s last hurrah this summer.

For this final portion of the interview, Soderbergh talks about his plans post-film retirement, painting, his presence on Twitter and how he approaches the social media site, Behind the Candelabra, comic book movies, and he briefly talks about vouching for Joe and Anthony Russo as the directors of Captain America: The Winter Soldier.  Hit the jump to read on.

steven-soderberghIf you missed them, be sure to check out Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 of the interview.  Look for the full conversation tomorrow.

Steve: I guess I have to start by saying I am a little mad at you, because I’m a huge fan of your work and I have to say that I’m a little disappointed that you’re stepping away for who knows how long.  So I speak for the fandom when I say I just want to express frustration.

STEVEN SODERBERGH: Well, thank you.  I don’t know what’s going to happen.  Even if I were to start up again, I’ve already set things in motion that would delay that by a couple of years.  So at the very least it’s going to be a few years and then we’ll see, we’ll see how I feel.

To be honest though as a fan of yours I just want to you to be happy, but I’m disappointed as a fan because I want to see more movies.


But I understand that you want to do other things and I think I speak for most fans who just want you to be creative.

SODERBERGH: Yeah, it’s just going to be different stuff.  I don’t think I could ever sit still and do nothing.  It’s just going to be different stuff.  In the hopes that maybe by exploring some other avenues I can find another way in to this job and reboot somehow.  It’s something I’ve been planning for a while and I get those feelings of I just know something’s got to change, so five years ago I decided pretty much to follow the plan that I followed.

I’ve hear rumors about writing, painting, a whole bunch of stuff.  Are you a proliferate painter?

SODERBERGH: Not yet, I’ve painted a little.  I’ve got a lot of work to do.  You can’t get good at anything unless you do it day in and day out, over and over, so I’m just now getting to the point where I have enough time to practice.  I’m in that phase of just trying to learn how to do very basic things that I’ve seen, that I like and it’s the same process as learning how to make a movie, you see something you like, you go out, you try to imitate it, you try to figure out how they did it, I mean, it’s going to take a while.  It’s going to take a while.  But I’ve got time, I’ve bought myself some time so it could be a while before I generate anything that I want to put out there.  I’m putting up a website, maybe March or early April, and whatever I’m up to will be there or you’ll be able to know what it is.  That will be my portal to the outside world.

Steven-Soderbergh-Haywire-imageDoes it have a URL yet?

SODERBERGH: Extension765

I am a huge fan of the impressionist movement in the late 1800’s, is there a certain movement that you gravitate towards or are you a fan of all paintings?

SODERBERGH: I think for now I like a lot of different- it’s like movies, I like a lot of different kinds of movies, I like a lot of different kinds of paintings.  At this point I’ve been going back and forth between portraits and just pure abstract stuff.  So I don’t know where that will lead, and then I’ve been doing collages.  There’s going to be one book on filmmaking, one more book about filmmaking about a quarter of the way through now that I’ll put up on the site, when it’s done I’ll self-publish that.  I’m going to do Scott’s play in the fall.  I’m probably going to do Cleopatra on stage next year, I hope.  So there’s stuff.

Yeah, he mentioned he was doing something on Columbine.


That it’s very…

SODERBERGH: Yeah, we had a read through in New York the day before Newtown, it was very weird.  It’s a really interesting piece and when you say- if you were to say to somebody, “Oh, I’m doing a piece on Columbine.” When you see what it is, it’s not at all what you expect.  He found a really fascinating avenue into it and it’s not about guns, it’s not about that debate, it’s about something else.

I have a whole bunch of things I want to ask you about.  A few people, a few filmmakers, asked me to ask you, are you Bitchuation on Twitter?


OK, have confirmed that yet to anyone else?

steven-soderberghSODERBERGH: I think Rich Eisen confirmed that.



I don’t think you tweet enough.

SODERBERGH: Here’s the thing, I have rules about that, which is I’m not there to sell anything.  What will happen, it’s going to be streaky, what will happen is I build up a bunch of stuff and blow it out all at the same time.  I don’t know if that’s the way you’re supposed to do it, but that’s the way it’s happening.  I’m about a week away from another burst of tweets.  It’s fun to have, it’s kind of like having a pseudonym, it’s kind of like being Peter Andrews, I feel I can hide behind that, which is fun.

Speaking of synonyms where did Mary Ann Bernard come from?

SODERBERGH: That’s my mother’s maiden name.

I apologize for not knowing that, I probably should have.

SODERBERGH: Not many people do.

I always do a lot of research; I should have picked up on that.

SODERBERGH: It’s funny, people focus more on the cinematography for some reason, I don’t know.

You recently offered to edit The Canyons in 72 hours and I guess they said no, am I wrong about this?

SODERBERGH: That…God…All I will say is that it seemed to me that there was no upside in that conversation ever being known outside of the room and that I was stunned when it went out of the room.

That probably sums up that movie though, that movie is loaded with issues.

SODERBERGH: It sure seemed like a dramatic production.


behind-the-candelabra-michael-douglas-matt-damonSODERBERGH: But, no, I know Paul [Schrader], I like Paul, I just never would have anticipated that any conversation about that would ever go outside the room.

You’re next film, if you will, is with Michael Douglas and Matt Damon all of us are very excited about, we all want to see it, what is the length of that one?

SODERBERGH: It’s like 1:50; it’s under 2:00.

What was it like making that story?

SODERBERGH: Fun, really fun, because it had a lot of meaning for all of us by the time it happened because it was Michael and Matt, it was for whatever period of time it’s the last thing that I’m going to do and we had to postpone it because Michael got sick.  So getting to do it meant a lot by the time we got there and so it was really fun.  The good thing, as stupid as it sounds to talk about, whatever this break is that I’m on, it was great knowing that that was the last one for a while because I really appreciated everything about it every day, in a way that you never would if you had something coming up nine months later.  I really was able to kind of- you know, the people that I work with are my crew, like Greg Jacobs, I got an opportunity to know like this is the last time that I’m going to see these people for a while.  That made it nice, to know that instead of suddenly you just disappear and everybody’s like, “what happened?” I was able to express my appreciation to people because I knew this was going to be it for a while.

What are the one or two projects that you really wanted to do that just couldn’t come together for financing, cast, whatever, is there one or two?

SODERBERGH: There are only a couple; the things that I was trying to make that I didn’t get to make, Confederacy, Moneyball, Man from U.N.C.L.E.

STEVEN SODERBERGH magic mikeThat’s a pretty small list.

SODERBERGH: Yeah it is, considering what we did get to make.


SODERBERGH: Those are the only three that come to mind of I thought they were going to get made. 

The comic book genre seems to be the most popular thing on the planet right now, is that something that appealed to you at one point?  Or not even a little?

SODERBERGH: I just wasn’t a comic book guy.  When the Russos were going after the captain America sequel, they called me and said, “Will you call Marvel and talk to them about us?” because I have a relationship with them.  I said, “Tell me why you want to do this.” And they go, “Because we have a $60,000 comic book collection, because we’re obsessed with this shit.” And I went, “Okay, I’m just checking.” Because I’m not, that’s why I can’t do one, but I didn’t know that and I just wanted to make sure that they were going after it for the right reasons as it turned out they were and they ended up getting the job and they’ll do a great job because they love it, and I’m just not the guy.

Look for the full interview soon.


  • e9uhf9uweh

    So he’s not a comic book guy but he is a Liberace and a male stripper guy? I don’t understand? Does the fact that Steven Spielberg making a film about sharks and little robot boys mean he’s obsessed with sharks and robot children in real life. Do you have to be obsessed with a certain subject matter before you can make a film about it? What’s so different between making a film about the human drama and character arc of a guy who dances in a thong and a guy who can throw a car?

    Just another case of ignorant anti-geek prejudice I guess.

    • Truth

      No, you just have to be interested in it…big difference. He’s not interested in comic book/super hero movies as a subject to tackle. It’s not hard to grasp.

    • Andy247

      Definitely, i’d much rather he made a film that he had no investment in and no passion for, that would have worked out well.

    • Ryan D

      No I agree with the commenter, comics are a more modern day Shakespeare. If you cannot open your eyes and see that, then you have a prejudice against them already. Now, it appears Soderbergh already has that prejudice which is completely fine and glad he didn’t sign up for one just for the money.

      • Wait, what?

        “comics are a more modern day Shakespeare.” Okay, calm down, Sparky.

    • Bb

      Really dude? Anti geek prejudice? Shut the f up you twat… The guy doesn’t have an interest in the subject… He could have went on to say that the subject material is flat, rarely multidemntional in its characters, focuses on childhood ideology and rarely has complexity beyond that and been absolutely correct. I love the comic book movie genre, but unless you want to do it, don’t. You’re a faggot and need to stop being defensive over a subject that you can’t take ownership of. I hate you

      • Josh Kaye

        …You don’t have to be obsessed with a topic to make a film. You have to be interested. When a director goes into a project with no interest or no motivation, then it’s a waste of time for everyone. I enjoy Soderbergh’s films a lot, and the fact he chooses to make a movie based on a script that he enjoys or an idea that he feels holds promise is a great thing. If he chose to direct a comic book film that he probably wouldn’t put as much effort in due to his lack of interest in the material, how do you think we as a fanbase would feel? It probably wouldn’t be his best film and those who are interested and obsessed with the material would be upset (which they usually tend to be anyway with any adaptation).

    • Chad

      That’s cool you’d want to see someoene with no interesest in something spend a year of his life or more working on it. Then you’d complain that the finished product was noting like the comic books because 1) he didn’t read the books or grow up reading the books and 2) he’s implement his own ideas to make it something original.

      You’re an absolute genius.

    • Wait, what?

      Yeah, I agree with you. I mean, Ang Lee said he really wasn’t a fan of comics and everybody loves “The Hulk”, right?

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  • Random

    Bb, you just like to see your derogatory words in print. Go hate somewhere else. Ryan D, comic book heroes are modern day ‘gods’, not modern day Shakespeare. Greeks made their version of ‘gods’, we made comic book characters from our own image.

  • paul tracy

    digital vs film, doesn’t matter. Who cares how clear your image is if your story is a mess?

    ~ T

  • Nolan’s punishment must be more severe

    As Nolan proved, comic books can’t be made into genuine art. He tried that with Dark Knight rises and trying his hardest he could only turn in a movie that was hacky, schlocky, hokey horseshit with a mind numbingly stupid fucking ending that slapped its dick in the face of everyone naive enough to believe anyone can turn children’s illustrated fairytale books into properties of intellectual merit. So in others words, Soderbergh is a much much smarter man than Nolan and an infinitely better director simply for not giving credence to the psychosis of virginal autistic misfits who make the idiots on the Big Bang Theory look like hyper-masculine supermen.


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