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Steven Soderbergh talks "Contagion" and retirement

Sep 5, 2011, 10:23 a.m.
Director Steven Soderbergh (R) poses with actors (L-R) Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow, Laurence Fishburne during a photocall of their film "Contagion" at the 68th Venice Film Festival September 3, 2011. REUTERS/Alessandro Garofalo

A: "It might. It should. That's a legitimately volatile subject. I can tell you that just in the brief scenes in which we had Rhesus monkeys in cages, it was really disturbing to film because they know what's going on. They know they're in a cage and that you've put them in there and that it is not cool. There was one that we were shooting with -- he had the lock in his hand and he was turning it and trying to figure out how to undo it. Then he looks at you. He knows. It's disturbing."

RETIREMENT, 'OCEAN'S' AND BERNIE MAC

Q: You've talked about retiring, but you still have three more movies to do. That could take a few more years, right?

A: "Nah. 18 months. In a few weeks, I start shooting a male stripper movie with Channing Tatum. We worked together on (the upcoming) 'Haywire.' Then I'm going to do 'Man From U.N.C.L.E' in February and 'Liberace' in June."

Q: So after that you're truly retiring from filmmaking?

A: "Call it whatever you want -- hiatus, sabbatical. I'm just gonna disappear for a while."

Q: Is it permanent?

A: "I don't know. Maybe. It depends."

Q: Why do you want to disappear?

A: "It's not that I want to. I need to. I've been running really fast for quite a while. It's been non-stop since 'Out of Sight.' That's a lot of work."

Q: What do you plan on doing during your sabbatical?

A: "I don't know. Interview people. I've done it a couple of times and I really enjoy it. I did a book of interviews with a filmmaker and it was really great to walk him through things and ask 'How was this done?' 'How was this accomplished?' I love process. I'm a process person. I like talking about how things were done as opposed to what they mean."

Q: If you choose to come back to movies in the future, could there be another "Ocean's" still in you somewhere?

A: "Not without Bernie Mac. It was a really unique group and we can't do it without him. We really hit the jackpot with those movies. (The cast) all liked each other, they enjoyed being together. Losing Bernie was a horrible tragedy. It was upsetting. He was such a doll and so much fun to be around."

Q: The "Ocean" movies were also your most successful. Do you pay attention to your box office track record?

A: "For me, all of the pleasure is in the making of the film. Once they're done and delivered, I've moved on. If you start thinking about results, it affects your ability to make things in the moment. You never want to lose the enthusiasm and the attitude of the amateur. You always want to be making creative decisions based on the same criteria you used when you were 15 years-old. What's important is the experience itself."

(Editing by Bob Tourtellotte)

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