Free-ads - Forum News and columns Features & Interviews Film links Calendar dates for festivals Contact details Statistical Info Funding Info
site web
About Netribution Contact Netribution Search Netribution


interviews / reviews / how to / short shout / carnal cinema / film theory / whining & dining

netribution > features > interview with steven soderbergh > page one
When Steven Soderbergh won the Palme D'Or for his debut, Sex Lies and Videotape, he joked that 'it's only downhill from here'. The fact that he was, at 26, the same age Orson Welles shot Citizen Kane only added to the expectations resting on him. And in many ways, his 1989 prediction came unpleasantly true in that his next five films bombed at the box office, and were met less favourably with the critics. The fiendishly dark and officiously comic Kafka (1991) was such a dramatic departure from his debut feature that critics dismissed it as pretentious. His next feature, King of the Hill (1993), a highly accessible coming-of-age drama told through whisky-coloured filters was again attacked as sentimental and trite.During The Underneath (1995), which Soderbergh considers his worst film, he almost decided to give up film making altogether. Instead he turned to much smaller projects, and shot the brilliant Gray’s Anatomy (1996) with Spalding Gray giving an 80 minute monologue. Almost concurrently to this he wrote, directed, edited and stared in Schizopolis, one of the most adventurous US films of the past twenty years which, like his previous four films, failed to find an audience. Proving once more that he is unable to make the same sort of film twice, 1998’s Out of Sight finally saw him return to the high-brow mainstream, playing well at the box office and enjoying ecstatic reviews. His latest film, The Limey, opened in the UK in December 1999 with the fabulous pairing of Terence Stamp and Peter Fonda. In between work on Erin Brockovich, his forthcoming Julia Roberts vehicle, and publicity tours for The Limey and Getting Away With It - a series of interviews with Richard Lester published by Faber and Faber - Steven Soderbergh very kindly found the time to have a chat with us.

| by elio espana/nic wistreich |

| in london |

With Out of Sight you made a significantly shift towards mainstream film making. Was this a deliberate choice?
Not consciously… I got a call from Universal saying they would send me a script. It played to the things I do well, so of course I turned it down. Casey (Silver) rang me from Universal and stressed how rare it was to get a good studio script and that I’d be mad to say no. Cameron Crowe and Mike Newell turned it down, so I did it - Clooney was already attached.

Did Out of Sight originally have the non-linear structure?
It was originally told in chronological order, but we re-wrote it in flashback order. I felt that it gave the film more weight and introduced Jennifer Lopez’s character at an earlier point.

It’s a technique you’d already used quite extensively in Schizopolis, and then again in The Limey.
Yeah, well in that film (Schizopolis) it’s because Fletcher Munson has jumped rails onto somebody else’s life in parallel time, and is aware of that. So in the first part of the film with Fletcher, which takes place over the course of two or three days, when he jumps ship to this other life, he has been reliving those two or three days, but as the dentist. And then it turns out this dentist he’s jumped in to has been having an affair with his wife.

Who was played by your ex-wife.
Yeah, and the kid was my kid as well. I couldn’t have imagined anyone else. It also meant that she (Soderbergh’s daughter) responded completely naturally on film.
In the Limey, the break up of structure was more about creating that sense, when you’re retelling a story, of remembering that someone said such and such, but not being sure when they said it, or where they said. You don’t remember in a linear form.

The sex scenes in you’re films aren’t very explicit visually.
I don’t like explicit sex scenes. I subscribe to the theory that as soon as an actor takes their clothes off you are watching a documentary. I wanted the film to have a looseness and a roughness that you wouldn’t associated with a studio and star driven film.

Whose idea was it to have Michael Keaton play the same role as in Jackie Brown?
That was Stacey Sher’s (of Jersey Films, producer of Out of Sight, Get Shorty, Pulp Fiction) idea. I went to Quentin Tarantino’s house and looked at Jackie Brown and Keaton came in and did it for free, as a favour.

One of the charms of Out of Sight and The Limey is the incompetence of petty criminals. Does that hold a particular attraction for you?
Yeah, the most successful criminals are the ones running major corporations.

George Clooney seemed to have been looking for the right film for a long time. Were either of you aware on the set of Out of Sight that you had found that vehicle?
Yeah… I felt that this was the part in which he could hold the screen and show he was a movie star. We’re looking for something else to work together on.

Copyright © Netribution Ltd 1999-2002
searchhomeabout usprivacy policy