Director Steven Soderbergh Exits The Man From U.N.C.L.E.
11.19.11 by Ryan
Director Steven Soderbergh (Traffic) has gone back and forth on his plans to retire in the next couple years, but despite the possible retirement, the director was still planning to make The Man from U.N.C.L.E. after finishing the indie stripper comedy Magic Mike. That is, until he quit.
The Playlist was the first to report that Soderbergh had decided to opt out on the project, citing frustration with Warner Bros. over casting and budget. Soderbergh and his Contagion screenwriter Scott Z. Burns have been developing The Man From U.N.C.L.E., based on the 1960s TV show of the same name, since last year. George Clooney was set to play the lead role of secret agent Napoleon Solo, however, after suffering a spinal injury during the shooting of Syriana — an injury so severe it made him contemplate suicide — Clooney turned down the role to avoid the stunt work required for the movie.
Matt Damon and Johnny Depp were offered the role after Clooney, but both turned it down. Soderbergh wanted Michael Fassbender and The Killing star Joel Kinnaman, but the studio never agreed. According to the report, Soderbergh met with Bradley Cooper , but was never offered the role.
Channing Tatum, who is currently working with Soderbergh on Magic Mike and will appear in the director's upcoming Haywire, was willing to step in, but it was too late after Warners presented Soderbergh with a less-than-satisfactory budget. Reportedly, Warners only wanted to spend $60 million on the movie, which was to be the first of a tentpole franchise (Soderbergh's Contagion cost $58M), so Soderbergh walked. The studio confirmed Soderbergh's exit to Variety.
Soderbergh is still looking to shoot his HBO Liberace biopic Behind The Candelabra as his final movie before his retirement/sabbatical, but will shoot another project in the same time frame as The Man From U.N.C.L.E.. No word on what that project will be.