In his films Payne tends to juxtapose known actors alongside unknowns or non-professionals – those people who don't know how to be anything but who they are. There are few American stars he'd like to work with, he says, and he names them for me. "I like [Matt] Damon. Did you see him in The Informant? That guy is a disciplined actor. I want to work with Clooney again, I want to work with Giametti again. I like guys who will do anything, who don't have vanity – somebody who's a real full person, not just an ambitious actor."
Do you regret calling it a "retirement," or at least telling Matt Damon when you thought he was drunk that you wanted a break?
Soderbergh: [Laughs.] I've always said that Matt is a terrific actor. I'm stunned by his recall. He appeared to be very drunk at the time. Let's just say this: If Matt is able to be so good an actor that he can transform himself into a red-faced, puffy-looking, slurring companion, and that's just acting, then I'm doubly impressed. He had me fooled. He looked really lit. But you can't trust these actors, can you? They could be faking it. Or maybe I'm just gullible. I got fooled. So maybe I blew it, because he was actually just acting drunk, and I thought he was drunk, so that's a double bad on me. I should have known! [Laughs.]
Perhaps you owe him a prank in return.
There's a lot of opportunity for pranks. And he does spend an inordinate amount of time in a hot tub, so I'll get working on that. It's not going to be small. It'll end up on the news.