Why Steven Soderbergh Quit Movies: ‘Ratio of Bulls— to Fun … Got Out of Whack’

Steven Soderbergh Mosaic HBO
Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic

It was hard to swallow the fact that the man who gave us “Sex, Lies, and Videotape,” “Traffic” and the “Ocean’s” franchise was leaving the movie biz when Steven Soderbergh started winding down his movie career around this time last year. We’ve learned more about his motives since then and have been treated to a newfound focus on TV.

The director talked to Esquire about what prompted the decision heard ’round the movie world. You can thank Matt Damon, who starred in his HBO miniseries “Behind the Candelabra,” for that.

“The fact that it became a story at all is because of Matt Damon,” Soderbergh told the mag. “He remembered verbatim a drunk conversation we had in Chicago and repeated it to USA Today. I’d talked about it before and nobody gave a shit. It wasn’t until Matt said that I had a plan to get out. ”

Soderbergh said the bottom line is he no longer enjoyed moviemaking.

“It just stopped being fun,” he said. “It really wasn’t. That’s a big deal to me. It may sound like ‘Why do you have to have fun to go to work?’ I don’t know. I like to be in a good mood. The ratio of bulls— to the fun part of doing the work was really starting to get out of whack.”

For now, we can look forward to his latest TV show, “The Knick,” starring Clive Owen as a doctor at New York’s Knickerbocker Hospital during the early 20th century. The show premieres on Cinemax on August 8.

Additionally, Starz recently ordered a series from Soderbergh and producer Philip Fleishman inspired by Soderbergh’s 2009 movie “The Girlfriend Experience.”

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  1. Paramount Employee says:

    Never thought Soderbergh was a great director. He had as many misses as hits. But he’s a nice guy. Wish him well at whatever he does next.

  2. bsbarnes says:

    It’s been 25 years since SEX, LIES AND VIDEOTAPE. Steven Soderbergh has done everything that a Sundance Film Festival darling could have possibly imagined doing in their wildest fever dreams. Steven Soderbergh has every right to “retire” from filmmaking, just like Paul Newman “retired” from making movies after 1980s WHEN TIME RAN OUT, a turkey if ever a one there was to “retire” after. Oh, that’s right: Paul Newman then remained “retired” to make films like 1981’s FORT APACHE: THE BRONX, THE VERDICT, ABSENCE OF MALICE, THE COLOR OF MONEY and NOBODY’S FOOL, long after contemporaries like Sidney Poitier were relegated to Event TV movies and Featured Roles in Somebody Else Has Top Billing films. Paul Newman’s is the kind of “retirement” that I wish for Steven Soderbergh! If Steven Soderbergh needs to “retire” from Hollywood so that he can kick Hollywood’s a** when the right project merrily comes along, then, by all means, more power to him! Because Steven Soderbergh is still a young man, still a tower of power in this town without pity, still a warrior against the armies of McMovies pretending to be Blockbusters. Steven Soderbergh remains the Truth, “retired”, but with an honest, beating heart!

  3. srvwp2013 says:

    Now if we could just get everyone else to withdraw from employment in the Entertainment Industry and engage in serious business rather than fantasies and cartoons, America and the world would be a better place. The 4th of July Weekend Box Office proves that people do not want to engage in commerce with a dying and irrelevant industry. The last thing for the Entertainment Industry to be now known for is creativity. “Hollywood” is now a crumbling refuge of talentless drunken and drugged deadenders and hangers on.

    • GKN says:

      srvwp, watch Soderbergh’s films if you’re tired of fantasies and cartoons – a sentiment I share entirely, btw. I’d recommend for starters, his remake of “True Grit”, “Contagion”, “Side Effects” and “Erin Brockovich”, if you haven’t seen it yet – just a few of the reasons it’s such a bummer he bowed out of the biz.

    • Burgermeister Meisterburger has spoken!

  4. “Behind the Candelabra” was terrific. While watching, I thought I wouldn’t have wanted to ask Michael Douglas to do that role, but he was great. It was a fantastic tribute to all of that cast’s talent.

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