Steven Soderbergh is Retiring from Film to Become a Painter

There has been a lot of talk over the past year about Steven Soderbergh’s intention to retire from filmmaking. Aside from his upcoming films Contagion and Haywire, he has only three other movies that he intends to shoot before calling it quits: an adaptation of the ’60s spy series The Man from U.N.C.L.E., a Liberace biopic starring Michael Douglas, and Magic Mike, a movie about the world of male strippers based on Channing Tatum’s own experiences. Although he seems pretty focused on sticking to that schedule, it’s never been very clear what he might do after retirement. With the recent news that he is working as second unit director on The Hunger Games, some thought that he might continue to work in the industry, just not directing his own films. Now, however, he has revealed that he will leave it all behind in order to embrace a brand new career. Apparently Steven Soderbergh has plans to work with a different kind of canvas… that’s right, he’s taking up painting.

In a recent interview with the New York Times, Soderbergh confirmed that he wants to become a painter. He actually conducted the interview from his office space in Manhattan, which is already being turned into a painting studio. A number of pieces were spotted around the premises including “a pair of striped canvases in red and gray hues and a portrait of the abstract painter Agnes Martin.” Soderbergh, however, didn’t completely rule out the possibility of returning to movies at some point:

“I’m interested in exploring another art form while I have the time and ability to do so… I’ll be the first person to say if I can’t be any good at it and run out of money I’ll be back making another Ocean’s movie.”

While there may be a little bit of self-deprecating humour in that statement, I am also detecting a grain of truth to it. What are the odds that he will also be able to make a comfortable living as a painter? Even if he is really talented, it’s a difficult profession to break into (granted, he has the advantage of already being famous). I just don’t understand why he can’t simply take time off to do some painting on the side. Why does he have to formally retire from Hollywood? It seems like a bit of a front to me, but I guess we’ll find out how serious he is about it. What do you think, do you respect Soderbergh’s new career path and do you think we’ll see him directing any other films after the next three?

Around the Web:



  • why is this a story when there are like 3 to 4 films still to go? that could be ten+ years right there

  • Doubtful. They are saying Magic Mike goes into production next month, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. next February, and then Liberace in May or June 2012. One more year and he’s out!

  • anton

    selfish bastard (:P)

  • Rusty

    Well that is fascinating…someone transitioning from a huge career to ABSTRACT art, now he can peddle bullshit and say it comes from a deep place.

    How about this guy: You complete your films, you don’t sign any projects for a few years and you don’t announce your plans of painting. Then when you have a collection, say you paint.

  • Jonny Ashley

    rus said what I was thinking, but when Soderbergh gets going he rolls em out like blunts. His paintings are probably gonna be mad expensive.

  • Sly

    He’ll be back doing movies by 2013 – comebacks are good business.

  • Duke Togo

    comebacks are good business

    Except for Joaquin Phoenix Ace Attorney.

  • greg

    its all b.s. When people want to draw attention to what they do they say they are gonna quit..how many times have you heard guys with long hair say “gee i am gonna cut it all off!” Its a ploy of ego to get people to say”oh no dont we like it”so u fee reaffirmed

  • anton

    I always wonder after similar statements- why so dramatic? I mean, can’t you just say I’m going to have a break, I want to paint a little bit or something like that.

    Well, I hope at least he paints as well as he does movies, otherwise its a loss…