Steven Soderbergh Biography

Steven Soderbergh photo

Born: January 14, 1963


Date of Birth: January 14, 1963

"Technically speaking, can anybody direct a film? Absolutely. But can they direct a film well? No. That requires a very specific and odd combination of interests and traits and talents that you can not inject somebody with. They either have it or they don't."

Born in Georgia and raised in Baton Rouge, Lousiana, Steve Soderbergh began making films when he was 13 and left for Hollywood as soon as he graduated from high school. After a stint as a freelance editor, he returned home to continue making short films and writing scripts. His documentary about the rock group 'Yes' earned him the assignment to direct a full-length concert film for the band. 9021 Live was nominated for a 1986 Grammy for Long Form Music Video.

Soderbergh then startled the international film community in 1989 when he won the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival with sex, lies, and videotape at age 26. The film is important from a historical standpoint because much of the contemporary focus on independent film would not exist if it were not for this film. Although independent productions have long since been a part of cinema, there had always been a clear distinction between a studio film from an independent one. sex, lies, and videotape, however, allowed for the mainstreaming of the independent film, largely because of its critical, and financial success. The film also won Soderbergh an Oscar nomination for its screenplay and established him as one of the most promising young filmmakers of his generation.

Following the success of sex, lies, and videotape, he made Kafka (1991), a black and white mystery based on the life and letters of Frankz Kafka that starred Jeremy Irons, and received only marginal critical acclaim and nothing in the way of box office. King of the Hill (1993), based on A.E. Hotchner's depression-era memoirs, won back some of his critics but still failed to achieve much success. Underneath (1995), a tale of a reformed gambler who tries to turn his life around, only to risk it all for one final, big score, also failed to get much attention.

Finding himself in a rut and feeling the need for a refresher course in the joys of independent filmmaking, Soderbergh then retreated back to Baton Rouge and shot Schizopolis (1997) for $250,000, employing used equipment and a bare-bones crew and casting himself in a dual lead role. Adding an element of psychodrama, Soderbergh also cast his ex-wife, actress Betsy Brantley, in scenes that wickedly parodied their disintegrated five-year marriage. While editing Schizopolis in Baton Rouge, he took ten days to shoot Gray's Anatomy (1997), creating the most cinematic of the filmed Spalding Gray monologues.

With 1998's Out of Sight, starring Jennifer Lopez and George Clooney, he once again garnerd mainstream praise. Based on an Elmore Leonard novel, the film was an international success and drew him back into the spotlight. It won best picture of the year from the National Society of Film Critics, beating out favorites like Shakespeare in Love and Saving Private Ryan. (The group also named Soderbergh, not Spielberg, best director.) In addition, the film received Academy Award nominations for Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Film Editing.

He gained more momentum with The Limey (1999), about an ex-con from England who travels to Los Angeles in an effort to avenge the death of his daughter. The film was well received by critics and was listed on several top 10 lists for 1999. Soderbergh then went back to a Hollywood studio, a big budget and a big star for Erin Brockovich. With Julia Roberts in the title role, the film told the true story of a single mother from a small California town who brought a lawsuit against the local gas and electric company. In 2001, Soderbergh became the first director to earn two Best Director nominations in the same year at the Academy Awards in over 60 years. Up for directing both Erin Brockovich and Traffic, he won an Oscar for the latter. His most recent projects include directing Contagion (2011), Haywire (2012) and Magic Mike (2012).

Soderbergh lives in Los Angeles and has a daughter from his first marriage. He married second wife Jules Asner on May 12, 2003. He also has another daughter from an extramarital affair, who was born in August 2010.

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