Steven Soderbergh: Interviews (Revised and Updated Edition) (Conversations with Filmmakers)

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This is the script he had for a while, and that we talked about doing after King Of The Hill. But we sort of let it drop. After Out Of Sight , I called him up again: I really wanted to go back to work immediately, but I wanted to do something small where I could continue to experiment a little with narrative. There were things I thought of during Out Of Sight where I remember thinking, "Wow, you could go a lot further with some of these ideas if you had a piece of material that could withstand it.

I said, "Look, let's think about this again, but I want to come at it a different way. I want to make it more of a mosaic and sort of deconstruct it a little bit, and let's figure out now who the actor is that we're going to design this around, because there aren't a lot of choices. We spent about a month hammering out a new draft, and we'd fax pages back and forth, or I'd go over to his house, and it was one of those things where each of us would say, "We haven't figured this scene out yet; go back and try again.

The whole thing from beginning to end, from the first pitch meeting at Artisan before we had the new draft to the delivery of the film, took nine months. SS: He was pretty soon after that, because it was very clear that you needed somebody of a similar iconic weight to Terence, or the movie was going to be imbalanced. They seemed like two sides of the same coin to me.

They were both guys who kind of marched to their own drummer and have managed to stay themselves through a lot of ups and downs, and I just liked the idea of it. It worked in my mind, where I just thought, "That's a good pairing. O: The idea of the '60s is very big in The Limey , too. What about addressing that decade appealed to you? SS: I think it's appealing to people like me, all the people out there like me. SS: I think it's appealing to creative people, because it seemed to be a time of endless possibilities, when the boundaries of what could be considered popular culture were being expanded almost by the week.

Steven Soderbergh Is Back to Destroy Hollywood

It doesn't feel like that anymore. At times, I wish it were so. Radio is a perfect example; good God, I mean, back then the most interesting songs were also hits, and that's just not true anymore. It hasn't been true in a long time. The film was partially… Obviously, it's not exactly about that. What it is about is this sense of that dream that existed in the '60s, and what happened to it in these two instances. For Terence's character, the dream was sort of taken away because he was incarcerated for most of his life. And for Peter, here's a guy who basically made his living by appropriating other people's dreams and making money off them.

Both these guys have ended up sort of hollowed out, but for different reasons, and their connection is this woman. O: It's interesting that a lot of the music that's used with Peter Fonda is stuff from the '70s, when the idea of the '60s kind of got packaged and sold, as someone says in the film. SS: I certainly was trying to pick stuff that resonated with that period, but I also just felt like, "Well, I have to use a Steppenwolf song, because Peter was in one of the most famous movies ever made with all this Steppenwolf music in it, and you can't miss that opportunity.

Not just because of the subject of the song, but because The Who is such a working-class British rock band, and because Terence's brother used to manage them. It just seemed karmically like a good thing to do, to have Terence sort of walk into that first shot with that Who song. SS: Well, I certainly try not to nail people down about stuff. If there's a line that I think needs to… Let's put it this way: There's not a lot in the film, but there's some. More importantly, though, I try to capture things as opposed to staging them, so I tend not to nail the actors down and say, "Go here, go there.

I'll just say, "Look, you can go anywhere you want; let's try a couple versions of this and see where you end up. It worked really well. There are isolated things through the film that are sort of invented. I mean, the whole thing with Peter using a Stim-U-Dent while he gives the speech sort of happened on the spot.

The scene was set in the bathroom, and he and I were trying to figure out what he could be doing. I noticed that Peter has a really great set of teeth, and I said, "Well, why don't you do something with your teeth? What would you do? Would you floss? I'm big on the Stim-U-Dent. O: When it comes to the script, do you generally prefer working with other people now, or…. SS: Well, it's a hell of a lot more fun. You know, these are some of the best writers in town. It makes my life really easy. And I've found through experience that I'm only good when I'm writing something that, in essence, only I could write.

The times I've written for hire, for other people, I don't think I've done very well. SS: I don't know. It may be that I made my living as a freelance editor during the time between getting out of high school in and sex, lies and videotape , so I'm aware of what cinema does so easily that few other art forms can do, which is to fracture time.

Now, what I want to see changes sometimes from the beginning of the film to the end. But again, as long as you're following your instincts, your mistakes are your own. EC: Right. Like you said, it's clean. SS: But then again, this is a business--especially for actors--in which you don't have a lot of control and sometimes you have to make adjustments.

Momentum is really important and you're in a spot right now where you have some. You need to think, "Well, what do I want to do with that?

If I can parlay it into something that I'm going to be happy about, then great! And if not, I'll trade off some momentum for not doing anything before the [actors'] strike. That would drive me nuts.

SS: Again, there's no such thing as wasted time. EC: I want to use this momentum--I've had so much more recognition than I've ever had in my life. I'm thinking, "Maybe I can get some good roles from this.

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It's hard. Most movies are written for men. EC: Which is why eventually I think I'm going to write, produce and direct. At some point I think I'm going to get so frustrated that I'm gonna to have to start coming up with my own material. SS: That's a way to exert some amount of control over your destiny.

Scott Indrisek is a writer, occasional artist, and the deputy editor of Artsy.

There are a couple of very famous actors out there who've created their own opportunities. I think that's always a good idea. EC: That's the way it should be--everybody taking responsibility for themselves. SS: If it turns out that you've got some time on your hands, time to sit down, read a lot, see a lot of things, and try your hand at writing some stuff, that's not wasted time at all. And the good news is, the best news is, you don't have to prove yourself to anyone anymore. You were put into a circumstance that someone who doesn't have talent and poise would have been run over by.

You delivered, you stepped up, and you were there. And now you don't have people wondering whether or not you can act. EC: Wow. God, thank you! SS: Nobody's wondering whether you can do it or not. What they might be wondering is, "How does she fit into X, Y or Z. Just remember that you have every right to want to do something that isn't a typical teen movie. You can wait for the right project to come along. I have the time to develop myself. SS: Yep. I'm telling you--that's really important.

I'm assuming that you'd like to continue doing this, so remember, how you develop personally over the next 10 years is what's really important for you and for your career.

Conversations with Filmmakers Series - Wikipedia

Again, if it turns out that there's time spent expanding your ideas and your sense of the world, it's just going to make you a better actor. EC: I want to travel for that very purpose. I love being anywhere that I haven't been. SS: If you ever become famous--movie star famous--you'll miss that a lot. For an actor, losing the ability to be the man on the bus is really difficult. EC: There's another reason to travel! SS: I feel so old! It was 20 years ago I was out here trying to get my act together But, you know what?