Why Steven Soderbergh Turned Down Directing A James Bond Movie

Daniel Craig in No Time to Die

For any director, getting asked to direct a James Bond film is a career highlight. There’s been the legendary run of John Glen to Sam Mendes’ gritty reinterpretation to Cary Joji Fukunaga overseeing Daniel Craig’s final Bond movie. At some point, Eon Productions and MGM were courting celebrated filmmaker Steven Soderbergh to enter the Bond pantheon, and now the acclaimed director discussed why his vision of Bond never made it to the silver screen.

Steven Soderbergh recently spoke with the podcast Happy Sad Confused to discuss his latest film Let Them All Talk. He spoke on a variety of subjects, including his take on film’s future and the importance of 2011’s Contagion in today’s climate. The conversation eventually turned to the director’s brief brush with the iconic spy franchise. Soderbergh explained to the podcast how his vision of 007 didn’t match up with MGM and Eon Production.

Absolutely. Yeah. I love that world. I think we were at odds about some things that were important. We had some great conversations, and it was fun to think about. But we just couldn't...the last ten yards were, we just couldn't do it. We just couldn't figure it out.

Given how experimental Soderbergh’s work tends to be, I could see where MGM and he might have clashed over Bond’s portrayal. He might have wanted to take Bond in directions Eon may have seen as going against the Bond brand. Soderbergh’s timeline did line up with the Daniel Craig era – Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace and Skyfall. The same thing happened with fellow Oscar-winning director Danny Boyle after being chosen to direct Daniel Craig’s final Bond film. His clash with the production company eventually led to him leaving the project and Fukunaga stepping in.

Around the time Soderbergh was being vetted for a Bond film, he had decided to take a brief hiatus from filmmaking due to the current Hollywood system. The filmmaker in him didn’t die as he directed and produced more projects during his “hiatus” than any other time in his career.

But Soderbergh’s career hasn’t suffered from not doing a Bond film, to say the least. He went on to direct films such as the Magic Mike series, Side Effects and Haywire. The celebrated director even delved into television as the driving force behind the acclaimed Emmy-winning HBO television film Behind the Candelabra with Michael Douglas and Matt Damon.

In recent years, Steven Soderbergh has returned to being behind the camera with critically acclaimed films such as Logan Lucky, Unsane, High Flying Bird and The Laundromat. He just wrapped filming No Sudden Moves with an all-star cast including Don Cheadle, Benicio Del Toro, Jon Hamm and Ray Liotta. It’s nice to see someone as prolific as Soderbergh not let one film stop him from doing his craft even after taking some time away from the film industry.

If you want more Steven Soderbergh, check out his latest film Let Them All Talk on HBO Max.

Adreon Patterson
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A boy from Greenwood, South Carolina. CinemaBlend Contributor. An animation enthusiast (anime, US and international films, television). Freelance writer, designer and artist. Lover of music (US and international).