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Acclaimed director Steven Soderbergh burst onto the world filmmaking scene in 1989 with his indie darling Sex, Lies, and Videotape. After declaring that he would leave movies behind a few years ago, it may come as no surprise that he’s happy with his renaissance as a maverick of television. And, that he has no real plans to go back into the world of movie making.
The director spoke with The Hollywood Reporter about his desire to stay in television, stating:
Just from my very personal, subjective point of view, I don't have an interest in making another theatrical film unless my attitude changes or the business changes. There are a series of things that have contributed to it — I think the audiences have a played a role, the studios have a role in it — but film is increasingly fear based in its decision-making, and that's not a good base to be creative.
His words certainly echo the feeling of many film actors, movie directors and producers over the past few years. Even audiences can see that TV has become the medium more willing to take risks. Shows like Breaking Bad, Mad Men, House of Cards and ABC’s American Crime, which was just nominated for 10 Emmy’s and had one win for Supporting Actress, have received critical praise and audience love for their challenging portrayals of the human condition.
Sex, Lies, and Videotape helped make stars out of Andie MacDowell and Peter Gallagher, while catapulting the young filmmaker to director-of-the-moment status. Since then, Soderbergh has produced or directed enough movies, from more indie fair to big-budget films filled with mega stars, to have received a whopping 65 award nominations from various film organizations, and even win an Oscar in 2001 for helming Traffic.
Steven Soderbergh’s career is bursting with notable movies that he’s guided through production in one, or several, ways. Along with Traffic and his first hit, he’s also brought us the sexy Out Of Sight, the star packed Ocean’s Eleven series, the male stripper hit Magic Mike and the film that got Julia Roberts her Oscar, Erin Brockovich. Soderbergh transferred his talents to television in 2013 when he directed Behind the Candelabra with Michael Douglas and Matt Damon, and hasn’t looked back since.
With TV becoming such a lighting rod for film-level talent, it’s hard to believe that not that long ago, the idea of a movie star who would take a television job was largely frowned upon by the business, and the idea of a film director or producer working in TV was simply a no-go. It was seen as looking backward. A career in movies was supposed to spring from a career in TV, not the other way around. The only way movie stars ended up on television was if they were desperate to stay relevant when their movie-making days seemed to be largely behind them.
Steven Soderbergh is currently working on the hospital drama The Knick for Cinemax, and The Girlfriend Experience for Starz. Television is certainly already seeing how the commitment of film talent is paying off for the medium, and Soderbergh’s promise is another big part of that.