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In Conversation: Steven Soderbergh

The director on what's wrong with Hollywood today, why you should never use his name in a pitch, and why he's retiring from movies to focus on painting:

"The worst development in filmmaking—particularly in the last five years—is how badly directors are treated. It’s become absolutely horrible the way the people with the money decide they can fart in the kitchen, to put it bluntly. It’s not just studios—it’s anyone who is ­financing a film. I guess I don’t understand the assumption that the director is presumptively wrong about what the audience wants or needs when they are the first audience, in a way. And probably got into making movies ­because of being in that audience.

"But an alarming thing I learned during Contagion is that the people who pay to make the movies and the audiences who see them are actually very much in sync. I remember during previews how upset the audience was by the Jude Law character. The fact that he created a sort of mixed reaction was viewed as a flaw in the filmmaking. Not, 'Oh, that’s interesting, I’m not sure if this guy is an asshole or a hero.' People were really annoyed by that. And I thought, Wow, so ambiguity is not on the table anymore. They were angry."
PUBLISHED: Jan. 27, 2013
LENGTH: 29 minutes (7404 words)