Cinema overflows with recurring actor-director collaborations. Tim Burton and Johnny Depp. Alfred Hitchcock and Jimmy Stewart. Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro. Today, Steven Soderbergh leads the charge of filmmakers working repeatedly with a set of actors, forming an informal pack of around 20 repertory players he loves to cast. And they certainly love him back.
“He has a nonintrusive style of direction that allows actors a large degree of autonomy,” says Aaron Baker, author of Contemporary Film Directors: Steven Soderbergh. “He also often casts really big stars in roles in which they are able to create a character, rather than just presenting their attractive, movie-star images. Actors like that.”
On the heels of the release of his superbug thriller Contagion, here’s a quick who’s who of the Soderbergh troupe.
Damon played to his movie-star strengths in Ocean’s Eleven, Twelve and Thirteen; went against type as the puffy nebbish in The Informant!; and was barely billed in Che: Part Two. Now he’s tackling a deadly disease in Contagion.
According to novelist Elmore Leonard, Clooney “learned how to act” on Out of Sight. He then smoldered in the Ocean’s series and provided marquee value to Soderbergh’s artier Solaris and The Good German.
The legendary Gould lent clout and presence to the Ocean’s trilogy and does the same in Contagion.
She won an Oscar for her realistic portrayal in Erin Brockovich, then returned the favor with star turns in Ocean’s Eleven and Twelve and Full Frontal.
Cheadle provided gravity and eccentricity via indelible character roles in Out of Sight, Traffic and the Ocean’s series.