Steven Soderbergh Says He Sees the End of His Career Coming

July 14, 2009
Source: Guardian

Steven Soderbergh

Filmmaker Steven Soderbergh doesn't sound like he's doing too good. UK newspaper Guardian had a chance to talk with him recently, over the phone, and he sounds a bit depressed. Take this, for example: "You know, for a year after we finished shooting I would still wake up in the morning thinking, 'Thank God I'm not shooting that film.'" Though in the context of the conversation, that quote isn't as shocking as it by itself. Guardian's Henry Barnes was talking with Soderbergh about his two-part epic Che starring Benicio Del Toro. "It took a long time to shake off. It was just such an intense four or five months that it really…"

As we all know, Soderbergh has encountered endless problems recently, both with Moneyball, which Sony kicked him off of, and that rock 'n roll Cleopatra musical he wanted to do. But it sounds like it was Che that really took the most out of him. Barnes asks if he really wishes he hadn't made it. "Yeah," Soderbergh says. "Literally I'd wake up and think, 'At least I'm not doing that today.'" If you didn't see Che, it was a 262-minute (4 1/2 hour) two-part epic about the Argentinian revolutionary Ernesto 'Che' Guevara and his overthrow of the Cuban government in 1956. It was fascinating to watch, but a challenge to make on a tight budget (roughly $58M). "The two parts were filmed over 76 days, four days fewer" than Ocean's Eleven.

"It's hard to watch it and not to wish we'd had more time," Soderbergh says of Che. But as for his current career, and all the trouble he's encountered recently, what does he make of that? "In terms of my career, I can see the end of it," he says. "I've had that sensation for a few years now. And so I've got a list of stuff that I want to do – that I hope I can do – and once that's all finished I may just disappear." That's very sad to hear, considering Steven Soderbergh has been and still is one of my favorite directors of all-time. And while he does have a lot of wacky ideas, I appreciate that he's even experimenting with such crazy ideas.

Soderbergh says that he's got at least "three or four years worth of stuff" still in the works, including that Liberace biopic starring Michael Douglas and Matt Damon, that Cleo rock 'n roll musical, an adaptation of John Barth's "The Sot-Weed Factor," and potentially a sequel to The Limey. All of these sound like good ideas and films I'd love to see, not necessarily for their subject matter, but just because Soderbergh is the one bringing them to big screen. He's a director who not only has a great sense of style, but is also willing to experiment with the medium in ways no other filmmaker has done before. And for that alone, he deserves to continue making movies. I certainly hope I'll still be watching his movies for many more years to come.

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intense four five months? Why dosen't he try giving birth. No I'm joking. If he does decided to call it quits I'll miss him but hopefully if that decision come true he'll leave us with some really good films to remember him by.

xerxex on Jul 14, 2009


Honestly, I can't imagine really missing him. Sorry... his movies just don't really wow me

Antioch on Jul 14, 2009


What strikes me is the films he wants to do before he quits are all such small potatoes. Liberace Biopic? Limey 2? Cleo musical? Really? These are the films he wants to waste the few remaining years of his career on? I could understand if his dying to make a potentially revolutionary pic (like Che was hoped to be) was all that kept him from quitting, but this B-film lineup sounds more like McG or second string director territory. It sounds like he plans to go out with a whimper instead of a bang.

Natalie on Jul 14, 2009


As an aspiring screenwriter DYING to get in -- FUCK HIM for whining about it. Nothing is more annoying to people that would KILL to be him than to hear him complain. You are making movies. If you don't love it anymore, that's fine. Then just produce them, write them or walk away. He hasn't made enough big movies for anyone to give a shit. This shit makes me irate. All his "passion" projects are really horrible. Oceans 11, Erin Brockovich and Out of Sight were great. What else is there? All the stuff he's got in the pimpline sounds horrible, espeically Moneyball. How the F is that a movie? That's like making a movie on the book MAC OS 10.5 FOR DUMMIES

BONO on Jul 14, 2009


I like him, but it's a love/hate thing. I can really enjoy his movies and then wonder why the hell he did that...I won't really miss him. I can't recall the last on of his I saw. Directing...Ocean's but Micheal Clayton was crap and he produced that.

He tries so hard... on Jul 14, 2009


That list of films may seem interesting to a Steven Soderbergh fan because Steven Soderbergh will be involved, but they just don't sound interesting at all to me. I doubt they would to the general public, either. Not trying to put anyone down, just an observation. He seems intent on going out on the lowest note possible.

G on Jul 14, 2009



real talk on Jul 14, 2009


Not to mention he does his own cinematography and editing a lot of the time (under different names.) I respect when directors do all of that, then you know it's really "their style." It's ashame that Che wasn't released widely, for something that was so strenuous to make and something that had all that award buzz. No one saw it. I still haven't and want to. I respect that he makes low budget stuff on the side too, once filmmakers who started out that way like him, get to be big deals like him, they stop that. So it's cool he still does that, even if they're not the best films. The Girlfriend Experience was good though. Didn't like Bubble. But please, Soderbergh, don't make The Limey 2.

Ken on Jul 14, 2009


Honestly, this article is making it sound like hes some revolutionary film maker, when really if ya ask me hes just very mediocre. Oceans 11 is the only thing of his that I liked had a very original feel to it, But do I need to even mention how shitty those sequels were? Really I dont think he will be missed at all....at least not by me. Like someone else said his films never "wowed" me they were just very meh. Also what 3 said why is he deciding to do these little projects if the end is coming for him Id want to go out with an epic bang, But maybe hes staying true to his less mainstream roots and going out the way he wants which I can totally respect.

Cody on Jul 14, 2009


Yeah, he's really a pretty shite director and I think he's coming to realize that. What a waste of time his last 5 were and upcoming 4 films look to be. That money is better spent on movies that aren't self indulgent and soulless - which is really all anyone can say about Soderbergh's body of work.

Cinemassive on Jul 14, 2009


Regardless of how I feel about his films, I've always felt that Soderbergh spread himself too thin. He does a lot of work on his films other than direction and always has at least five other projects in process. That seems crazy to me. If you're going to put so much into a single film, don't walk around juggling four other thing in various stages of production. I'm not any part of Hollywood and have no business giving him shit on the internet, but his schedule seems designed to cause a burnout. He's made several spectacular films - The Limey, Ocean's 11, and Traffic being the ones I would single out - but has also had some pretty big ... missteps? Failures? Craps? I admire his willingness to experiment, but none of his more experimental work is really that good. That said, I'm always apt to check out what he's working on and would be at least a little bummed if he decides to "disappear."

Mark on Jul 14, 2009


soderbergh should try living in the real world and working a job he doesn't like for 30-40 years!. this is what's wrong with the entertainment industry. they want to think they have it "rough" but don't realize how lucky they are. soderbergh should shut the f@ck up.

dan on Jul 15, 2009


Soderbergh's okay. He just makes really shitty choices. The Girlfriend Experience was a black hole of suck.

Fuelbot on Jul 15, 2009


wah wah i have to work hard for 4 or 5 months to get paid some few dozens of millions.. my spirit is being squashed under the burden of all this hard work wah wah... Cry me a river for pete's sake. I swear, some people are rich just because the powers that be KNOW they couldn't hack it in "real life". Soderberg dont know what real work is. #12 hit it right on the head

9mm on Jul 15, 2009


Sheesh! What a bunch of insensitive, ignorant jerks. Any of you ever tried being a director? Any of you have an idea of how difficult a job that can be? If not, then shut your semi-retarded mouths. Also, #14, just because someone is a director does not mean they're rich. A shame Soderbergh may be calling it quits, but if that's what he wants to so be it.

Corran Horn on Jul 15, 2009


Thank goodness. Get lost, his movies blow.

Chrisbo on Jul 15, 2009


Soderbergh needs a friend who will tell him when his shit stinks. He's arguably the most indulgent director in Hollywood. A real life Billy Walsh from Entourage. If he had good friends in life, they would tell him to take a year off and wait for someone to hand him a script he likes. Something where he has zero creative input whatsoever in the writing.

Carlos on Jul 15, 2009


The thing that gets me is that he sees it ending. What kind of guy "sees it ending!?!" THey may want to retire or whatever, but to say you have no ideas. I guess it's better than Lucas thinking he has ideas but doesn't but it's not like he has so classic going down in history movies to act like he's finished and tired because he doesn't have anything to top his "Star Wars."

He tries so hard... on Jul 15, 2009


You can't keep a good man down. Soderburgh isn't done. I just hope he doesn't become another Francis Ford Coppola, who pretty much flamed out as a director (with a few notable exceptions) after the difficulties of Apocalypse Now and One From The Heart. * #19, it has been awhile since he came up with anything worthy, but, back in the day, Lucas did come up with a little something called Raiders of The Lost Ark to follow up his Star Wars movies.

zubzwank on Jul 15, 2009


Oh really!?! Thanks... *rolls eyes*

Tra la la la la di da on Jul 15, 2009


# 18 , right on!! #14 your an idiot. You know making a giant movie with millions of dollars on the line aint the same as you bagging groceries at the market. Its not clocking in for your 8 hour shift and then going home to smoke pot and play video games. I commend any film maker that takes on a big budget film, with hundreds if not thousands of people to manage and delivering a vision to millions of people around the world. A load that follows you every second of the journey. That is a load that weighs heavily on your shoulders, any creative person would know the stress that comes on executing a project, big or small. But hopefully the end joys over weigh the pain endured on the journey, if so, the artist will continue. Now its sounds like the stress is over taking the joys for Soderberg, and thats sad, and its understandable. And just cause he makes millions isnt a reason he should just dance on the streets for joy. Money is not the reason most creative people do what they do. And just to add, Soderberg is not rich because the powers somewhere decided that he wouldnt make it otherwise. Hes rich because he is a creative power house.

Tomi on Jul 15, 2009


As someone who would also love to make films if I had half a chance I can understand the frustration of #4, but at the same time life is short, so why waste it making yourself unhappy? Maybe he has other interests he wants to pursue and feels he has said all he wants to say in the world of film, or perhaps he just wants to enjoy spending his days with loved ones from now on. If so, fair enough. But Soderbergh went through one of these low periods in the early/mid-nineties, when he stopped liking the films he was making and wanted to quit. George Clooney rode to the rescue and picked him for the superb Out Of Sight (still Soderbergh's best film, in my view) which kick-started his current run of success. I'm sure after a couple of years off he'll be rejuvenated. At least give us that promised Limey sequel with Terrence Stamp and Michael Keaton before you quit, Steven!

Mathieu on Jul 15, 2009


This story has already been retracted..everything in it was wrong and the writer took a quote of Soderbergh's said at a press conference months ago out of context re: wanting to retire one day.

Denise on Jul 15, 2009


Che was amazing. I hope he doesn't give up.

Business101 on Jul 15, 2009


Anyone who creates a movie about a communist is no friend of mine. Good riddance to Soderbergh.

Harry Nads on Jul 15, 2009


Hey everyone, way to flame a revolutionary directory who championed and pioneered digital technology workflows so half-wits like you can make films without thinking about how much film stock will cost. And yes, if you've ever directed anything of significance, you'll know it's the most arduous, taxing and, at times, defeating career a person can choose. That he has blazed his own trail WHILE inventing the workflow that turned the filmmaking industry on its head AND released at least one feature film nearly every year since 1995 is not only impressive, it's miraculous. Meanwhile, what are you doing with your life?

Karni on Jul 15, 2009


A lot of you people are ignorant fools. If you have never worked on a movie set in your life then YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT IT'S LIKE TO WORK ON A MOVIE SET. It's like comparing a sprint to a marathon. This business wears you out quick. We work 12 hour days, and that is all hard work. The stress of being a director on set is tremendous, having multiple millions of dollars riding on your back, being in charge of the whole thing, being the only person who actually knows what' s going on and how it's all going to fit together. Nobody is saying that we have it "worse" than anybody else, but it's an industry that's notorious for chewing people up and spitting them out. There is a good reason for that, but unless you experience it, just like I can't tell you about your job, you can't tell me about mine. And to all of you morons wondering why people have so much respect for him, it's because he's an innovator. He pretty much revolutionized indie filmmaking with "Sex, Lies and Videotape". He's been one of the people leading the digital revolution in hollywood. Maybe his films aren't masterpieces, but more often than not his methods of making them have been extraordinary. He's done a hell of a lot for movies, more than most people do.

WalterWhite on Jul 15, 2009


I don't mean to be unkind, but honestly my opinion is just that: Mr. Soderbergh's work is uninspiring. He has a lot of amazing achievements under his belt, but I simply do not gravitate to his work the way I do his peers.

George on Jul 15, 2009


I hope he finds what he's looking for outside of directing films. I never actually liked any of his films, though.

snickers on Jul 15, 2009


"Lackluster" and "plodding" sums up his recent films. He has no passion for the work anymore and it shows.

Darren on Jul 15, 2009


Lol so many bleeding hearts here... An industry notorious for chewing people up? Ha! I wont say its not a stressful job, but so what? Why is it that stress is an excuse nowadays? Sick and tired of seeing people complain about girly ideas of stress and fatigue. Honestly, as an American, i am sick and tired of the pussification i see. It started in the 60's with all the hippies. When we came home from Europe and Asia in the 40's. We didnt complain about Post Traumatic Stress... thats not to say we didnt have it, but it wasnt an EXCUSE to be a girl from then on. You had "shell shock" and learned to deal with it. But when all the hippies started coming home from Vietnam, then suddenly its an issue. And it only gets worse now, we been pussies for generations, to the point that we cant even win a war at all any more. Eisenhower, Patton, or MacArthur woulda won these wars we in long time ago. We beat the Nazi war machine, AND the Japanese at the SAME TIME, in less than the 8 years we been fighting a buncha CAVE DWELLERS in Afghanistan! That's whats wrong with this country to begin with, a bunch of grown men that are pussies, and never did a hard days work in thier WHOLE LIFE. If we had to do D-Day over, right now. We'd fucking lose. We dont got the guts, and the heart that we used to. Used to be we were steel workers, coal miners, carpenters, and we built cars... we were TOUGH. Thats what made us AMERICAN. We tamed the whole continent for crying out loud. We took a bunch of wilderness and turned it into the best country in the whole world in two hundred years... even tho the rest of the world had a thousand year head start on us. Now its a buncha assholes that complain about sitting on thier ass all day looking at a computer, or telling someone else what to do. Whining about stress! Its tragic. Being the fucking ice cream flavor inventor at ben and jerry's is stressful.

9mm on Jul 16, 2009


Thanks Sergeant Rock-you made men out of all of us.

zubzwank on Jul 16, 2009


I personally won't be missing him. At best, Soderbergh is an average director. It's just that he experiments, A LOT, and I commend him for that. However, most of the risks he takes with his films just end up being experimental failures. Apart from Ocean's Eleven and Traffic, I haven't been impressed with anything he's done. I won't be mourning his departure.

SlashBeast on Jul 18, 2009


No, this can't be true. Soderbergh is the greatest most un-assuming, underhyped American director there is. Yes, he might be experimenting a lot. But that's just because he's a director worthy of any film experiment. See The Girlfriend Experiment and you'll know what I mean.

ESP on Jul 27, 2009


# 38 Don't you even dare classify Soderbergh as one of the greatest American directors working today.

SlashBeast on Jul 30, 2009

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