The name’s Soderbergh. Steven Soderbergh.
The prolific filmmaker behind Ocean’s Eleven, Traffic, Erin Brockovich, and dozens of other movies recently confirmed that he once came close to directing a James Bond film. Read his quotes about that time and how he was able to channel some of his ideas for the world’s most famous spy into other projects.
I remember reading sometime around 2009 that Matt Damon mentioned a Steven Soderbergh Bond movie was in the works, but the director ultimately walked away because he didn’t have enough creative control over the situation. In the most recent episode of the Happy Sad Confused podcast, Soderbergh was asked if he was indeed approached “at least twice” to direct a Bond movie, and he confirmed that was true.
“Absolutely,” Soderbergh replied. “Yeah. I love that world. I think we were at odds about some things that were important. We had some great conversations, and it was fun to think about. But we just couldn’t…the last ten yards were, we just couldn’t do it. We just couldn’t figure it out.”
When asked what his take would have looked like, Soderbergh sighed. “Well, you know, we’ll never know. Aspects of it have showed up elsewhere. I would say there are things in Haywire, in terms of its approach to character – it’s not a big movie, but there’s a little bit of activity. That’s a hint at the kind of attitude that I was looking for. But look, they’re doing very well.”
I have not revisited Soderbergh’s 2011 spy film Haywire since it came out, but I remember loving it at the time. (There’s a Gina Carano and Michael Fassbender fight scene that is absolutely dynamite.) But it’s not surprising that he clashed with EON producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson, who have been the stewards of the James Bond franchise for years and held very tight control over its creative reins. Still, I can’t help but think that an honest-to-God Soderbergh Bond movie would have been really fun – especially if we’d seen his movie either before Casino Royale rebooted the franchise (maybe he could have done a one-off in the vein of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service) or instead of Quantum of Solace.
This also would have made Soderbergh the first American to ever direct an EON Productions James Bond movie. That trivia footnote has since gone to Cary Fukunaga, who directed the forthcoming No Time to Die, which is expected to arrive on April 2, 2021. And hey, at least Soderbergh got to work with a James Bond actor recently on Logan Lucky, in which Daniel Craig is having an absolute blast as the wonderfully-named Joe Bang.
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