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Exclusive: Steven Soderbergh on Knockout
“Ultra-realistic” femme fatale actioner

30 September 2009  |  Written by Nev Pierce  

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We’ve come to expect the unexpected from Steven Soderbergh, but even Empire was surprised by the recent news he is to direct a spy thriller called Knockout starring mixed martial arts fighter Gina Carano. So, we had a chat with him about it.

“My feeling was, If I don’t do this, somebody else will,” says the Oscar-winning director. “I felt, somebody is going to look at her and go, ‘She should be in a movie!’ And I felt like, Why shouldn’t I be the person saying that?”
 
Carano is an experienced fighter – trained in Muay Thai, the martial art form used by Tony Jaa in Ong-Bak – and while she has limited screen experience, she certainly lives up to the title Knockout.
 
“If you start following the female mma fighters, Gina pops out pretty noticeably,” says Soderbergh. “I thought it was a fascinating combination of appearance and activity... I’d been wanting to make a spy action film for a while, but hadn’t really determined what I was going to bring to it that would distinguish it from the traditional approach. Then I thought, ‘Why don’t I just build it around her? She can actually break people in half.’ I was interested in doing something ultra-realistic.”
 
Carano – who appeared as Crush in TV’s American Gladiators and has a role in upcoming Michael Jai White actioner Blood And Bone – will play someone who is ‘outsourced’ by the government to perform tasks the state can’t be seen to undertake. “My desire is for it to be a very realistic portrayal of somebody who gets hired, as these people do, by the government, to go and perform certain duties that it would be inappropriate to give to the military,” says Soderbergh. “That could be anything from a hostage-grab to surveillance to an actual killing...”
 
Plot details are light, because the script is currently being written, but Soderbergh describes Knockout as “a combination of a Bond movie and Point Blank”, though, “more on the scale of From Russian With Love than, you know, Quantum Of Solace... Something where the characters and the story are as prominent as the action stuff.”
 
Lem Dobbs, whose scripts for Kafka and The Limey were previously directed by Soderbergh, is writing the screenplay, with cameras expected to roll in February. The question is whether connoisseurs of Soderbergh’s excellent DVD commentaries can expect a repeat of his pairing with Dobbs on The Limey, in which the screenwriter was relentlessly outspoken in his criticism of the finished film.
 
“Oh, you can fuckin’ bet the farm on that!” says Soderbergh, laughing. “He’s absolutely gonna give me a hard time. I’ve already thought about that, like, Oh boy, you know, this is going to be round two. There’s no question. This is absolutely the rematch that people have been waiting for.”
 
For a more extensive chat with Soderbergh, in which he discusses new releases The Girlfriend Experience and The Informant!, plus everything from the state of Hollywood to prostitution, pick up (and preferably pay for) the latest issue of Empire, on sale tomorrow.

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Your Comments

IS ANYONE THINKING CATWOMAN?
I mean, think about it! In a Nolanverse. No campery whatsoever. A woman who could actually mess you up in a fight, not some girl whose taken three weeks of spin classes (I'm looking at you, Iron Man 2). More

Posted by Mopictures at 23:27 on 03 October 2009 | Report This Post

She got her ass whooped by Cyborg Santos in her last fight, but then again, Santos is arguably more man than woman...and probably more man than most men. More

Posted by BlackBaronUK at 16:37 on 30 September 2009 | Report This Post

From Russia With NO CHANCE!
This all sounds well and good, but what is it with any spy thriller, including the Bond franchise claiming that said film will be "more along the lines of From Russia With Love"? IT NEVER IS! God, I would love to see a modern spy thriller that isn't Under Siege 2: Dark Territory, that has a good 3rd of the film based in a train! I know this is all very opinion based, but I don't think I've yet seen a spy thriller that has said "more like from russia with love" that has actual More

Posted by thefirstcriggs at 13:33 on 30 September 2009 | Report This Post

Oh, and can you please send my issue via air freight? Cheers. More

Posted by Manfrendshensindshen at 12:41 on 30 September 2009 | Report This Post

That sounds very exciting indeed! Soderbergh might not be the saviour of cinema anymore (as he was hailed during the early noughties), but he's still one of the most interesting directors around. As I personally prefer his more commercial movies I'm fascinated with the prospect of Soderbergh making a female Bond! More

Posted by Manfrendshensindshen at 12:40 on 30 September 2009 | Report This Post

I bet Knockout is a screen test. Just to she if she can act enough to take the role of the rumoured re-imaged Tomb-Raider More

Posted by CUrraNT at 12:24 on 30 September 2009 | Report This Post

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