CINEMA: Steven Soderbergh On Prozac, The Smiths, Making Matt Damon Gay & Why He’s Quitting The Biz


NEW YORK MAGAZINE[Side Effects] is an old-school nail-biter, not a diatribe on anti­depressants, drug companies, and psychotherapy. Still, it takes a pretty dim view of all of those things.

STEVEN SODERBERG: I think if you were to talk to Dr. Sasha Bardey, an adviser on the film, he would tell you that there’s a place for ­SSRIs, but there’s no question that a lot of people are looking for the shortcut. He would also say a combination of prescription meds and therapy can help people who are in a really bad way, but that there’s a difference between those people and the garden-variety feelings of anxiety or depression that most of us go through occasionally because of a set of circumstances.

NEW YORK MAGAZINE: [Spoiler Alert] In Side Effects, Catherine Zeta-Jones has a sex scene with Rooney Mara, and your HBO film Behind the Candelabra stars Michael Douglas as Liberace and Matt Damon as his lover. Are you trying to spice up or break up the Douglas-Zeta-Jones marriage?

[Laughs] That was just coincidence. I got the idea of doing a Liberace film when we were making Traffic—so thirteen years ago. Out of the blue, I asked Michael if he would be interested in playing Liberace, and he said yes. He told me later that he thought I was just fucking around with him. I don’t think he understood where this was coming from, and I didn’t either.

Candelabra brings you back to more lighthearted territory. At least it looks like a lot of fun—Michael and Matt making out, for instance.

STEVEN SODERBERG: It was really fun. The world of it was just bananas. It was great to see Michael and Matt jump off the cliff together. Nobody can accuse them of being shy. They just went for it. It’s pretty gay. MORE