Steven Soderbergh, one of Hollywood's best-known directors, as deft at making blockbusters as he is small arthouse films, is to quit filmmaking.
The director, whose work includes the Ocean's Eleven franchise and Out of Sight, said in a US radio interview broadcast that his next two movies will be his last. Soderbergh is set to work on Liberace, a forthcoming biopic of the flamboyant entertainer, and Man from U.N.C.L.E., a film version of the famous 1960s TV series, before quitting. He said the two films were, "a great way to sort of step off".
"When you reach the point where you're like, if I have to get into a van to do another scout I'm just going to shoot myself, it's time to let somebody else who's still excited about getting in the van, get the van," he told the weekly radio programme Studio 360. Soderbergh, 48, was born in Georgia in 1963, and began experimenting with film equipment in high school. His first major success came aged 26 with his directorial debut, 1989's Sex, Lies and Videotape, which made him the youngest-ever winner of the Palme D'Or at Cannes. On receiving the award he declared "it's all downhill from here."
He won praise in 2000 as the director of Erin Brockovich, with Julia Roberts as the eponymous secretary-heroine. Traffic, a $50m (£31.2m) production released in 2000, was as ambitious as it was critically well-received, and was shot in seven cities with over 100 speaking parts, almost a third of them in Spanish. He was nominated as Best Director in the 2001 Oscars for both films – winning for Traffic. Soderbergh said he planned to shelve such outings in favour of painting or photography. "It's just time," he said. "It's just a sense of having been there before. The making of any art is problem solving, and as you work at it, you're able to eliminate the versions that aren't any good faster, but at a certain point the salves sort of become the same."
The Liberace biopic will see Michael Douglas play the titular pianist, while Matt Damon will assume the role of Liberace's companion, Scott Thorson. George Clooney is set to join the cast of Man from U.N.C.L.E.
"When I started feeling like I've done this shot before, I've done a scene that's about this before, that's when I started thinking seriously about a shift," Soderbergh concluded. "But also I don't want to leave you know, when you see those athletes hang on one or two seasons too long, it's kind of sad."