Steven Soderbergh talks Magic Mike, The Bitter Pill and Liberace

Exclusive: the prolific director on his upcoming projects

Steven Soderbergh is currently whipping cinema audiences into a frenzy with Magic Mike, his male stripper drama based loosely on the real-life experiences of Channing Tatum.

In the brand new issue of Total Film magazine (out now, in case you were wondering), we chat at length to Soderbergh in the TF interview, covering the Oscar-winner’s career from Cannes-wowing wunderkind, through the wilderness years that followed before the diversity of mainstream hits and leftfield experiments that have followed since.

Soderbergh speaks at length about his future projects, including, of course, Magic Mike (in UK cinemas this month). When we asked how much of the movie was based on Channing’s real life, Soderbergh told us, “He was 19 when he spent – I think it was maybe a year – doing that. He was sort of loosely mentored by one of the other guys.

“But that was the basic framework that we jumped off. I don’t think he felt so attached to the real experience that we had to adhere to what happened. I just like the world of it, that it felt like I hadn’t seen it before. So I kinda viewed it as potentially an open movie. We just created the characters from there.

“And that loosened things up even more and allowed us to treat it as a piece of original material. I think in his mind, it freed him up a lot as an actor.”

On the secrecy surrounding his next film, The Bitter Pill (in which Rooney Mara’s character becomes involved in a pharmaceutical trial), he spoke about the difficulty of keeping the story secret. “Should we not preview the movie? This is a discussion that’s going on internally about how we keep some of these story points a secret.”

When we asked if we should expect a lot of shocks and twists from that film, he responded, “Yeah. Stuff you’d expect from this genre. But nowadays it’s really hard to keep quiet.”

On what drew him to Liberace, Soderbergh explained: “I just thought he was an interesting figure. He’s the first of the single-named, flamboyant entertainers. If you don’t have him, I don’t think you have Elton John, I don’t think you have Cher, I don’t think you have Madonna. I really feel like he was the first of those.

"Before him there wasn’t anyone like him who was trying to do that. I remember seeing him on TV when I was a kid and thinking that there was something going on there that I wasn’t aware of, but he seemed really happy and really talented.

“Then somebody turned me onto this book. Michael [Douglas] and I talked about this during Traffic. And then a buddy of mine said, ‘You should read the Scott Thorson book. That’s the story you should tell.” And that’s when it all started coming together.’

Magic Mike opens in the UK on 11 July 2012.

For more from Steven Soderbergh, on these films and many more besides, pick up the latest issue of Total Film magazine, which is out now!

And try out our brilliant interactive iPad edition! Read about the key features of Total Film’s interactive iPad edition.

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Which of Soderbergh’s upcoming films are you most looking forward to? Let us know below…


    • ChrisWootton

      Jul 6th 2012, 10:04

      I thought he said he was retiring..

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    • joker16

      Jul 6th 2012, 13:34

      @Chris He is. It's all part of a 5 year plan he started after he finished Che in 2007. All of the films he's made since, he's planed in advance. From what I understand, Liberace will be his last film for some time. He's not going into permanent retirement, but he will be taking a long break to do other things.

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    • EddieFelson

      Jul 6th 2012, 16:16

      If you don’t have him, I don’t think you have Elton John, I don’t think you have Cher, I don’t think you have Madonna. What a load of She*t! I really hate directors at the moment!

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