For a non-stop filmmaker like Steven Soderbergh, being stuck on lockdown has proven to be a very productive time. Appearing Flaviar’s Nightcap Live show to talk about his spirit brand Singani 63, Soderbergh didn’t leave the discussion just at liquor. He revealed that three screenplays have been penned while on quarantine, with one of them a sequel to his breakout film, Sex, Lies, and Videotape.
“During the lockdown, I’ve done more sustained writing I’ve done than since the summer of 1985. I never considered myself a writer, I wrote as a way to get into the business because nobody can stop you from sitting down in front of a keyboard and writing. When the lockdown happened here in New York, in order to stay organized and stay sane, I decided I’m going to write. I’ve gotta go back to writing, so within the first six or seven weeks of the lockdown, I finished three different screenplays. One of them was a rewrite, one of them was an original, and one of them was an adaptation of a novel I’ve been wanting to do.”
“The original a sequel to ‘Sex, Lies & Videotape,’” he continued. “It was an idea that had been circling for a while and I felt like I came up with a way to get back into [the story] and so, I wrote it and I wanna make it.”
Released in 1989, Sex, Lies, and Videotape was one of the defining independent films of the time, establishing Soderbergh as a rising star and helping to put Miramax on the map. The film won the Palme d’Or at Cannes, and earned $36M on a budget of just $1M. A “sequel” titled Full Frontal was released in 2002 and was not well-received, which may explain why Soderbergh ain’t talkin’ about that.
The adaptation Soderbergh refers to is of David Levien’s City of the Sun, a crime novel that follows ex-cop Frank Behr who takes on the case of a missing 14-year-old boy as a means of coping with his own tormented past. It’s the first of four novels centered on Behr.
“I asked David some years ago if I could adapt the first of the four novels that he wrote around this character. He said ‘sure,’ and I started and then stopped, and then during the lockdown started over again and then finished it,” Soderbergh said. “We’ll see what happens now, but it’s a great book.”
Meanwhile, Soderbergh also gave an update on his 1950s crime thriller, Kill Switch, which is written by Bill & Ted screenwriter Ed Solomon (Soderbergh is a producer on Bill & Ted 3, btw). While we’ve known Don Cheadle, Jon Hamm, and Sebastian Stan were already aboard, the promise of more Soderberg favorites joining has been fulfilled. Benicio Del Toro and George Clooney have both been confirmed. For Del Toro, it’s his first Soderbergh film since 2008’s Che. For Clooney, he hasn’t worked with Soderbergh since Ocean’s 13 in 2007. Others joining the cast include Frankie Shaw, Ray Liotta, and Amy Seimetz.
“I’m missing a lot of people who will be angry,” the director said. “But the point is, we were two weeks out when we got shut down. We shot ‘Out of Sight’ in Detroit with Don [Cheadle] and George [Clooney] and I was really excited about coming back. We are gonna come back, we’re just gotta figure out when.”
Let’s hope it’s sooner rather than later, because at the speed Soderbergh works we may have all of these projects completed within a couple of years.