Steven Andrew Soderbergh was born in Atlanta, Georgia. The second of six children, Steven’s father Peter Soderbergh was a Professor and Dean of Education at Louisiana State University, an institution in which Steven himself enrolled at the tender age of 15 in order to do an animation course. This demonstrated enthusiasm for film continued throughout his high school career, after which he packed up and moved to Hollywood, earning his way as a freelance editor, writing scripts and making short films in his spare time. Soderbergh got his big break at the age of 23, when he directed a video for rock group Yes entitled Yes: 9012 Live, a project for which he was nominated for a Grammy. Hot off the heels of this early success, Soderbergh completed his short film Winston (1987), a project which would eventually become his multi-award winning drama sex, lies and videotape (1989). This film, focusing on the lives, loves and sexual adventures of a group of twenty-somethings, won a number of highly-coveted awards, including the Palme d’Or at Cannes as well as his first Oscar® nomination for Best Original Screenplay.
Several years went by until his next big critical success, Out of Sight (1998), which starred George Clooney and Jennifer Lopez in break out roles. Two short years later, Soderbergh would release two of his most successful films to date: Erin Brockovich starring Julia Roberts and Albert Finney and Traffic, which featured an all-star cast including Michael Douglas and Benicio De Toro. These two films swept the Oscars® in 2000, with Erin Brockovich winning Best Actress for Julia Roberts and being nominated for Best Director, Best Picture and Best Supporting Actor. Traffic garnered four Academy Awards: for Best Supporting Actor (Benicio Del Toro), Best Director, Best Editing and Best Adapted Screenplay.
Soderbergh’s strength as a director lies in his determination to excel in his field regardless of casting, budget and production values. This resolve has led the director to produce a number of low-budget pieces with non-professional actors such as Bubble (2005), or films with a highly artistic and conceptualized aesthetic such as his remake of Andrei Tarkovsky’s Solaris (2002), and The Good German (2007). Soderbergh’s willingness to take risks combined with his aversion to the “ordinary” has earned him a place amongst the cinematic greats.