Steven Soderbergh Talks Cleo Musical

Exclusive: Latest on his ambitious next

Steven Soderbergh was in town this week to promote Che, his four-hour, two-part biopic of Che Guevara. All very serious stuff - but when Empire spoke to him at the Times BFI London Film Festival, we had to had to HAD TO ask him about the freshly-announced and wonderfully bizarre news that he's set to direct a 3D rock musical called Cleo, starring Hugh Jackman as Mark Antony and Catherine Zeta-Jones as Cleopatra.

“I've wanted to do a musical my whole career,” said Soderbergh, who's done just about everything else as a director. “I've been developing this on my own quietly, and I'm hoping to get it together for next Spring.”

Soderbergh is clearly delighted to have secured the services of Zeta-Jones (with whom he's worked before, on Traffic and Ocean's Twelve) and Jackman as his leads. After all, they have a background in musicals, and Zeta-Jones' Oscar came, of course, for Chicago. “They've got great voices,” said Soderbergh. “I've seen them live and they're amazing. Now we need a Caesar.”

That, history fans, means Caesar Octavian, the ruler determined to put Cleo and Mark Ant. in their place during their later years, rather than Julius, who famously dallied with Cleopatra in her younger days and would presumably appear in flashbacks at most in this story.

Either way, it's clear to see that Soderbergh is relishing the challenge of putting together the musical, which will be soundtracked by Guided By Voices. And, even though the story of Antony & Cleopatra ends in tragedy and asp-assisted suicide, this won't be as heavy as some of Soderbergh's output. “It's supposed to be fun – you're supposed to have a real good time,” he said. “I'm really excited about it.”

You and us both, sir. You and us both.