Oscar winner Steven Soderbergh is not retiring from filmmaking. He had said he would a while back. But really he’s going into TV. Soderbergh has done so well for HBO with “Behind the Candelabra” that I am told there is an announcement forthcoming about a new TV series.
Soderbergh will likely get a deal similar to Aaron Sorkin and Martin Scorsese, who make “The Newsroom” and “Boardwalk Empire” for HBO. That will keep Soderbergh busy until he wants to return to feature films.
Before I knew all this, I ran into him after the “Candelabra” premiere. I asked about the retirement. He said, “When Matt Damon saw the [huge] reaction tonight, he said to me, You’re done, aren’t you? And really, I thought yes, because that’s the best you can do.”
Damon, 42, and Douglas, 68, knew each other in passing, but weren't close at that point. "I produced a picture in 1996, The Rainmaker, and you were so good. We knew each other off and on," says Douglas.
Which means, clarifies Damon, that Douglas was responsible for one of his breakout films, since without his approval, Damon would not have been cast in the big-ticket production. Later on, both collaborated on and off with Soderbergh. "We were both in Steven's stable of actors. I'd hear stories of Michael. Steven's stories are always about how someone works," says Damon.
"From my end, looking at Matt, he's probably the best listener of an actor I know, and listening is a lost art form. There was the right balance. He wasn't a hustler. He was a good-looking young guy with a sweetness about him. All the elements were right," says Douglas.
For Damon, the interest lay in the dynamic between the aging Liberace and Thorson, who had lived all his life with foster parents. "How insane that relationship and how beautiful it was. I thought the screenplay got all the complexity of a long-term relationship where there is a power imbalance, and where there is all this ... you know. I could see failed relationships I'd had echoed in that and I had been both people in different relationships in the course of my life. Without the rhinestones, but still."
After this, is there anything Damon wouldn't do for a movie? He supposes there must be, but he can't think of anything he wouldn't do for the right script and right director.
"I wouldn't want to do anything that conflicted with my beliefs about the world,'' he says. ''But f---ing Michael Douglas? That certainly wasn't the threshold."
DEADLINE: The point he made about Matt is valid, though. What does it say about Matt that he’s willing to do this after Jason Bourne, at an age when Michael did Fatal Attraction and Basic Instinct and had a brand to protect?
SODERBERGH: It makes you understand the difference between a movie star and an actor. A movie star has something to protect and an actor doesn’t. Matt has walked this really fascinating line, taking creative chances and at the same time finding a way to be in movies that are hugely successful. I think he likes both. I think he loved making those Bourne movies.