Steven Soderbergh Spent ‘Hours and Hours’ Pivoting ‘Magic Mike’s Last Dance’ After Thandiwe Newton Exited

"At a certain point, you have to surrender to what the cinema gods want for you," Soderbergh said after Salma Hayek Pinault replaced Newton in April 2022.
Magic Mike's Last Dance
"Magic Mike's Last Dance"
screenshot/Warner Bros.

Steven Soderbergh had to strip down “Magic Mike’s Last Dance” following Thandiwe Newton’s exit.

Newton was set to co-lead the film opposite Channing Tatum, who also executive produces the franchise. However, Newton parted ways with the production in April 2022 to “deal with family matters,” as initially announced by The Hollywood Reporter. Salma Hayek Pinault later was cast in the role.

Director Soderbergh revealed that despite the numerous rumors as to the “real reason” for Newton’s departure, it is still a “private” matter.

“Nothing I ever saw was accurate, and there’s really no upside for anybody involved in litigating this or excavating it, because I consider it private,” Soderbergh told Rolling Stone. “Everything I saw publicly was wrong. I don’t think anybody sees any benefit in running through this publicly. It becomes something you can’t control. Right now, to keep it private means all of us can control it, and I think that’s where it should sit for the time being.”

However, Newton’s exit did mean some “Last Dance” plot points had to be changed. For instance, the character’s daughter was cast as a Newton lookalike; the updated script mentioned instead that she was adopted by Hayek Pinault.

“That one aspect of it we had to finesse, but I think it played to the dynamic she has with her daughter and resulted in one of my favorite lines in the whole movie — when she says, ‘Mom.’ Now I look at it and go, that’s how it always should have been,” Soderbergh said. “We had to recalibrate. There’s no question. We all spent hours and hours in rooms rebuilding it, rethinking it to make it specific. At a certain point, you have to surrender to what the cinema gods want for you. You really do.”

And don’t expect Magic Mike to be actually stripping in this film.

“There’s no nudity in ‘Magic Mike’s Last Dance.’ There’s not even a thong,” Soderbergh said of the Warner Bros. feature. “And yet, it was our desire to make a sexy movie. What’s sexy is intimacy and genuine emotion. Something that feels alive, and electric, and has the potential for vulnerability. That can be sexy. You’re letting somebody inside your heart, and that’s scary. You can get hurt. The really radical thing to do right now, it seems to me, as opposed to showing the beginning of the relationship when there’s all this heat and light because of the attraction — that’s easy — is to show people who’ve been married for 20 years for whom that’s still true. Where you don’t even make a big deal of it. They’ve been together for 20 years, and they’re still into each other in that way.”

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