Matt Damon: Steven Soderbergh really does plan to retire from filmmaking


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Matt Damon has been in Chicago working on ‘Contagion,’ the pandemic thriller directed by Steven Soderbergh, and the actor said he’s consciously tried to enjoy the experience because he doubts that he will have many more chances to work with the filmmaker.

‘He’s retiring, he’s been talking about it for years and it’s getting closer,’ Damon said of Soderbergh, whose credits include ‘Erin Brockovich,’ ‘Ocean’s Eleven,’ ‘The Informant’ and ‘Sex, Lies and Videotape.’ Soderbergh turns 48 next month, and if that sounds young, that’s the point, Damon said.


‘He wants to paint and he says he’s still young enough to have another career,’ Damon said. ‘He’s kind of exhausted with everything that interested him in terms of form. He’s not interested in telling stories. Cinema interested him in terms of form and that’s it. He says, ‘If I see another over-the-shoulder shot, I’m going to blow my brains out.’ ‘

Soderbergh told Esquire two years ago that he’d like to retire by the age of 51, which marks his 25th year as a filmmaker. Damon offers more specifics: “After this movie we’re doing ‘Liberace’ next summer with Michael Douglas, and then he might do one more movie after that with George [Clooney], and then after that he’s retiring.’

It may sound like a hoax or gag, but Damon said he is absolutely serious -- the only filmmaker nominated twice in the same year for the Academy Award for best director (for ‘Traffic’ and ‘Erin Brockovich,’ both released in 2000) is weary of moviemaking. Damon, who has appeared in five Soderbergh films, said it’s frustrating for him to contemplate.

‘After I worked with Clint [Eastwood] I went back and said, ‘Look, Clint is having a blast and he’s going to be 80 years old.’ And Steven says back, ‘Yeah, but he’s a storyteller and I’m not,’” Damon recounted. ‘If you’re an actor or a writer or someone working in film, it’s such a waste. For me, I’m going to spend the next 40 years trying to become a great director and I will never reach what he’s reached. And he’s walking away from it.’

-- Geoff Boucher