LOS ANGELES Feb 6 Oscar-winning filmmaker Steven Soderbergh delves into the world of prescription drugs in his new film "Side Effects," a psychological thriller that opens on Friday.
Rooney Mara and Channing Tatum play a couple whose lives unravel when she begins taking a new anti-anxiety medication prescribed by her psychiatrist, played by Jude Law.
Soderbergh, 50, spoke with Reuters about his own experiences with prescription drugs, shooting in New York and what he plans to do on his self-imposed hiatus from film-making.
Q: "Side Effects" shows characters either taking medication or prescribing them. Have you ever needed to take medication for your mood, for example?
A: "Luckily, my equilibrium is fairly consistent, so I've never been in a position of wanting or needing something to stabilize my mood. The Inderal beta blocker, what they call the "speaking drug," is miraculous. I use that. A buddy of mine turned me on to it because I said, "I really hate getting up in front of people." He says, "You've got to try Inderal." It keeps you calm and keeps you from getting anxious. That's my only pill experience."
Q: No pain-killing drugs that have landed so many in rehab?
A: "I had kidney stones once, which were not fun. They give you (pain-killer) Oxycontin and I thought, 'Oh boy, this is the one.' People turn their lives upside down to try and get this stuff. But it did nothing for me."
Q: You shot "Side Effects" in New York, which is where you live. What were some of the challenges shooting there?
A: "I was really fascinated by how the paparazzi came around when we were shooting out on the street. The unwillingness on the part of the city to give you certain physical parameters to work within that allow some amount of privacy to do your work was shocking. There were times where I was literally bumping in to them while we were trying to work."
Q: You're officially taking a break from film. How are you staying busy?
A: "I'm still working on stuff, just not movies. I've got this website (Extension765.com) that's going to go up sometime in March or April where (personal and movie items will be) accessible to get or buy."
Q: Like what?
A: "I have closets full of memorabilia, slates, scripts with my notes in them, badges from film festivals ... I can auction it off (online) and give the money to charity. I will also have my photography and a whole line of film related T-shirts."
Q: What's the concept behind the T-shirts?
A: "When they were being designed, I would test them out by wearing them to the set to see if people knew the movie references. There was this one Black Pony Scotch shirt. That's a very, very obscure reference from a famous film noir from the 1940s where there is a five-second pan across a table and you see this bottle of Black Pony Scotch."
Q: What's the movie?
A: "Laura" (by director Otto Preminger).
Q: Is the name of your site another obscure film reference?
A: "'The Conversation.' Whenever Gene Hackman calls to find out what's going on, Harrison Ford answers the phone and says, 'extension 765.'"
Q: Are you up to anything else at the moment?
A: "Yes. I've also designed a pair of super high-end audiophile headphones - what will be limited edition. I've been work working (on them) with the RED (digital) camera people." (Reporting By Zorianna Kit; Editing by Eric Kelsey, Patricia Reaney and Vicki Allen)