Steven Soderbergh sex scenes
Jennifer Lopez and George Clooney in Out of Sight, Universal Pictures

Ocean’s Eleven director Steven Soderbergh has a bone to pick with sex scenes. Specifically, that they’re as “ridiculous” and “impossible” to shoot as an underwater sequence. “Nobody looks good,” he says.

At a roundtable discussion at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival (via The Hollywood Reporter), the director was asked about how his upcoming spy thriller Black Bag is being called a love story, and also about how his 1998 film Out of Sight had notably good chemistry between stars George Clooney and Jennifer Lopez. That’s when Soderbergh explained his hot take about sex scenes.

“Well, I think they confuse physical sexuality with love and romance. And they think, ‘Oh, if you’re making a sexy movie, there has to be sex in it.’ I’m like, ‘No.’ We all know how that part works, what’s different in every case is everything that led up to that and everything that comes after that.

“That’s where your individual experience and issues come out. Part of the point could be you have two people that while they’re engaged in sex, are able to escape their lives in a way that they find very intoxicating. And it turns out the problem is what’s happening when they’re not having sex. That’s an interesting approach to something. So I think it’s just a very superficial take on what love is, what a relationship is,” he said.

“I don’t really care about that part. It’s impossible to shoot. It’s impossible. I won’t. I’m trying to think of the last time I actually shot two actors simulating sex because I just find it ridiculous and impossible. Nobody looks good.”

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Soderbergh is the director behind films including the four Ocean’s Eleven films, as well as Erin Brockovich, Magic Mike, Contagion, and Logan Lucky.

To further his explanation of why he doesn’t like sex scenes, he used underwater scenes as a comparison.

More From Steven Soderbergh on Sex Scenes

Steven Soderbergh sex scenes
Jennifer Lopez and George Clooney in Out of Sight, Universal Pictures

“I was having this conversation the other day about a project I’m working on. And the writer was like, ‘So then there’s this underwater sequence.’ And I’m like, ‘Have we met?!’ I hate underwater sequences. I think they’re boring as hell, nobody looks good in an underwater sequence. It’s slow. We are not doing that. Think of something else. We’re not shooting underwater. I feel the same way about actual sex scenes,” he said.

“When I was growing up, if you were somebody who was turned on by that stuff, movies were one of the places where you could see that potentially. That is not true anymore. If you want to watch people having sex, you just pick up your phone. It’s, to my mind, all the more reason to figure out a way to portray this sort of emotional and psychological aspect of a sexual relationship, as opposed to showing the technical part. I think there’s no more powerful thing. If you want to portray that aspect of somebody’s life, of the look on somebody’s face immediately after, that’ll tell you everything you need to know about what’s happening.”

Main Image: Jennifer Lopez and George Clooney in Steven Soderbergh’s Out of Sight (1998), Universal Pictures

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