Steven Soderbergh Confirms Career Shift From Director to Painter

Charles Eshelman/Getty Images

The "Contagion" helmer is moving forward with his plans to retire from being a film director; a report he had previously denied.

Contagion director Steven Soderbergh is planning to leave the film business to become a full-time painter and this time he means it.

The filmmaker confirmed his intentions while talking to the New York Times in his Manhattan painting studio, surrounded by examples of his art including a portrait of abstract painter Agnes Martin.

"I'm interested in exploring another art form while I have the time and ability to do so," he told the Times. "I'll be the first person to say if I can't be any good at it and run out of money I'll be back making another 'Ocean's' movie."

STORY: Steven Soderbergh Planning to Retire From Filmmaking

Soderbergh has been talking about retirement since 2009, but speculation about the future of the filmmaker's Hollywood career has been higher ever since the 48-year-old director said in March that he had two more movies to make -- Liberace, starring Matt Damon and Michael Douglas, and Man From U.N.C.L.E., starring George Clooney -- and then he was done with directing. Clooney has since dropped out of the Man From U.N.C.L.E. update, leaving the future of that project uncertain. And Soderbergh has directed another film, the spy thriller Haywire and is in pre-production on the Channing Tatum male stripper drama Magic Mike.

Damon previously confirmed the director's plans in an interview with the L.A. Times in December of 2010, which Soderbergh downplayed to a San Diego Comic-Con International audience in July by saying the news had been "blown out of proportion" and that Damon was "as discreet as a 14-year-old girl."