With Out of Sight you made a significantly shift towards mainstream film making. Was this a deliberate choice?
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 Id 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 Lopezs character at an earlier point.
Its a technique youd already used quite extensively in Schizopolis, and then again in The Limey.
Yeah, well in that film (Schizopolis) its because Fletcher Munson has jumped rails onto somebody elses 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 hes 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 couldnt have imagined anyone else. It also meant that she (Soderberghs daughter) responded completely naturally on film.
In the Limey, the break up of structure was more about creating that sense, when youre retelling a story, of remembering that someone said such and such, but not being sure when they said it, or where they said. You dont remember in a linear form.
The sex scenes in youre films arent very explicit visually.
I dont 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 wouldnt 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 Shers (of Jersey Films, producer of Out of Sight, Get Shorty, Pulp Fiction) idea. I went to Quentin Tarantinos 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?
I felt that this was the part in which he could hold the screen and show he was a movie star. Were looking for something else to work together on.