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Matt Damon Says Steven Soderbergh's Retirement is Imminent?

by
December 22, 2010

Steven Soderbergh

Back when we heard George Clooney was potentially up for leading Steven Soderbergh's adaptation of The Man from U.N.C.L.E. for the big screen, there were rumblings that the project was being viewed as the last film on which the actor and director would collaborate. Now it sounds like that train of thought may be taken a little further in that the adaptation of the 60's TV series may be Soderbergh's last film altogether. In speaking with Matt Damon, who's been working with Soderbergh's on Contagion, 24 Frames learned the director has grown weary of cinematic storytelling and will likely make good on his talk of retirement very soon.

Damon says, "He's retiring, he's been talking about it for years and it's getting closer." Seemingly confirming George Clooney's collaboration with Soderbergh on the upcoming Man from U.N.C.L.E., Damon had this to say about Soderbergh's future in filmmaking:

"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.' 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."

However, Damon seems to be trying to convince him otherwise, and aspires to follow in his footsteps as a great director:

"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,' 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."

I can understand Soderbergh becoming bored with the traditions of filmmaking, and he's been trying to shake things up with lower profile experimental indie projects like The Girlfriend Experience and Bubble, but apparently that's not enough. Some people just get bored with their current jobs, and no matter how creative or inspiring Soderbergh's work in film has been, we can't blame him for wanting to climb another mountain outside of the film industry. Personally, I hope The Man from U.N.C.L.E. comes together spectacularly so Soderbergh's leaves on good terms. We'll certainly miss him when he leaves. Anyone disappointed?

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  • Xerxex
    I like Soderbergh, but he seems to really be bitter abut his career...its like he just dosen't care for his fans as much as he should...perhaps I being harsh but its hard for me to really feel for him. :(
  • Icefilm
    I can somewhat empathize with Soderbergh. The filmmaking process is tough, real tough and it can wear you down in so many ways. I'm currently studying filmmaking in New York and it is no joke how hard it is to be a well-known filmmaker in such an exclusive industry. It seems to me like Steven Soderbergh is calling quits more than he's retiring. I just hope everything works out well for him in whatever he decides to do next.
  • Xerxex
    I can agree with you Icefilm...its just he seems like he thinks he's failed at the movie making game, sure he has some bad films, but they were risky films...Moneyball appears to have taken a toll on him, that whole fiasco was ridiculous.
  • Pat
    he can retire today for all i care. he is prob the most oeverated director in hollywood. he made one or two ok movies in the past but now he is more interested in sucking off movie stars.
  • RPD
    I hope he quits today so Damon will get back to making Bourne movies again...
  • harrison
    who?
  • A5J4DX
    lol @harrison
  • Al
    #2, but its not about becoming "well known" its about the craft. He should be proud of what hes done. I can sympathies to the extent that its sad that some of his dream projects can't get made, but as a career, the mans lucky to have gotten 20+ years of movies out of it. It seems like hes only upset that people don't know him. That I can't abide.
  • Happy Camper
    i think more directors should retire.
  • dex
    He should be thankful that he can still be in position to tell stories and search for inspirations, instead of whining.
  • Ricardo
    I don't even understand how a director doesn't like to tell stories. What the hell is he doing in this industry? For me, movies, books, photography (hell, even games nowadays) are all about creating a story so vivid and interesting that takes the audience into another dimension and away from reality. What does he mean when he says he only likes "the form" of cinema? Anyone cares to explain?
  • yeay
    form, he may be talking about 'formalism' aka style of filmmaking. There's "realism" and 'formalism' in cinema, films that are more 'stylized' and films that are 'realistic' and are concentrated more on the storytelling than filmmaking techniques. Which would explain why he says what he says about not being a 'storyteller'
  • LINKFX
    Dude Soderbergh is near master auteur status already...obviously it's not status that is important to him, but it just sounds like he's really depressed...he's obviously a really talented director...he's made so many great fantastic cinematic experiences...real art. Of course he's made some junk too, but what great director hasn't besides Kubrick? "fans" don't really seem to matter to an artist like Soderbergh @ xerxes...we are merely observers, unless we become personally involved in his conflict...we should write him or send him emails...or make some short films celebrating him...he is such an inspiration.
  • Xerxex
    LINKFX I know you know that there is an X! Fans make the directors, without fans they fail. But he may be going through something, if he retires I'll accept it...but I will hold a small grudge.
  • good riddance
    Overrated director who doesn't appreciate his place and good fortune to have had the opportunity to do what many others haven't.
  • Although I understand your feelings Xerxes (I remembered the X!), I don't think fans make the directors. I think fans make the films. Directors will make films because they must. It is something within them the compells them to tell a certain story. Although an audience reception is important, it doesn't define their journey. A writer writes because he must. A painter paints because he must. A musician plays his music because he must... Although in looking at Soderbergh, he's stated he isn't a storyteller. I know from reading about him that he does a great deal of his own camera work and a great deal of editing. His interests may be more for the process than the need to get a story on screen. I can see how that, over time, may have felt more like a job then a yearning passion. However, who really knows? It's hard to say what fuel drives anyone to do anything. I will miss his craftsmenship if he truly retires.
  • Xerxex
    ModernAmericanMan...but you didn't put in...cheeky are we? Its a personnel choice for Soderbergh...I don't have to like it, but I'll have to get over it. You have valid good points MAM.
  • insider
    More directors should retire. The current directors like Lucas, Spielberg have been in power too long. The directors they replaced were only 10 years older than them. It's time for new talent.
  • tony
    i just think he wants a little attention just give him a hug ....tell him how great he is.....its a case of steven having spielberg-envy
  • GerggTown
    if he isnt a story teller, why doesnt he just direct commercials or music videos or something? those are ALL style and no story. im fairly sure the soderbergh movies ive seen have had stories that were told..i dunno, his "form" doesnt really blow me away anyways.
  • crumb
    @ 13, nolan, Rian Johnson, and Martin McDonagh have never directed a shit film.
  • Silencio
    Shame he is one of the few American directors with any brains....
  • Hair Em
    yea man, speilberg envy. every great living director is crying themselves to sleep about never being able to attain the great cinematic heights of indiana jones and the kingdom of the crystal skull.
  • elGuapo
    American director... more like American Jewish director. Hollywood needs to diversify and portray minorities more accurately instead of just the hot ethnic female ones as good and the male minorities as evil. REVOLUTION!
  • Jazz
    @21 Although his films are well put together Nolan has never been the risk taker or experimenter that Steven has been. And all his films have the same visual look and tone. If you're not gonna set up creative challenges then why bother making films ?

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