STEVEN SODERBERGH: I think you have an idea, and you stick with that idea until you're confronted with the fact that there's something better than your idea. I think the smart play is to go with the better idea.
In the case of Andie I was laboring under the illusion that she was not much more than a model and couldn't deliver what was required. Fortunately for me, she came in and proved me wrong. And I was happy to be proven wrong.
It happened to me the other day on a movie we're starting next month. It's a supporting role, and one of the people who came in was someone I know and who, on first blush, I would have said, 'No, I don't think he's really right for this.' Of all the people I was looking at, he was the one I would have potentially said, 'I know him and I think he's good, I just don't think he's right for this.' Sure enough, when I sat down and looked at what he did, I immediately said, 'Oh, that's the guy.'
What was it that made the difference?
STEVEN SODERBERGH: He did something that was different from what I'd seen him do, and different from what other people were choosing to do, and suddenly he seemed like the only guy who should be doing it. So you have to keep your prejudices in check.
I'm a big believer that you get the cast you're supposed to get. I've had people drop out, many, many, many times, and always, in retrospect, I felt they dropped out because I was supposed to get somebody better. That's just the way it works.
How do you rehearse?
STEVEN SODERBERGH: I used to really rehearse properly, until I realized that I was really using the rehearsal time to get a sense of them personally, and to see if I could in some efficient way unlock a method of communicating with them. And once I realized that, I started being much less formal about the time that we were spending together. And now it's become like a Fellini thing, where I just take them all out to dinner and get them juiced up and leave it at that.
On that movie, I felt I had more time to do the work than I have had since on any movie. That was the only movie where I never once felt rushed and felt like I had all the time I needed to do the work on a given day. And every film since then, I've felt like I didn't have enough time.
You seem to love juggling a lot of projects at one time. Why is that?
STEVEN SODERBERGH: As my career has gone on, I've gotten more and more aggressive about keeping my plate full. I've got some things that I want to do, so many ideas that I'd like to pursue, that's it hard to find time to do all of them. I'm mystified by directors who say, 'I can't find anything I want to do.' I look around and I want to do everything. There are stories everywhere.
I guess it depends on what kind of film you want to make. I like all kinds of films, and so I'm casting a much wider net than some other directors. The algorithm, more often than not, is that a director has a certain aesthetic and he or she looks for material that will be well-served by that aesthetic. I'm just the opposite. I'm totally story-driven, and then I sit down and try to determine what aesthetic is going to work best for this story. So that gives me a lot more freedom.
Is there any downside to your job?
STEVEN SODERBERGH: It's the best job in the world, it really is. It's really difficult for me to find any downside to it. It's what I love to do. It's hard, but it's not like work to me. I jump out of bed, ready to go. It's pretty great.