Steven Soderbergh was never a big NASCAR fan, despite growing up in the South.
But the Academy Award winning director after working on his new film “Logan Lucky,” with an image of a theoretical heist at the Charlotte Motor Speedway during the Coca-Cola 600.
“NASCAR was a kind of mystery for me,” Soderbergh says in an interview with The Associated Press on Sunday prior to the start of the Coca-Cola 600. “I had only a very superficial knowledge of it. … I knew the big names. I would watch the Daytona 500, but I was not to follow.
“But the fun of this project is learning a new sport and talk with people at all levels of the sport across the different layers under the superficial layer that someone would look at me when they watch the game on television.”
Soderbergh said he liked NASCAR driver, fun and “very modest.” Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards, Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, Ryan Blaney and Kyle Larson all have cameo in the film, although no play NASCAR drivers.
Busch, for example, plays a state trooper.
“The complete lack of cynicism was refreshing, because in my business you in the people who have a jaded attitude about what they do,” Soderbergh said. “It’s nice to talk with people who are working on it.”
Channing Tatum stars in “Logan Lucky,” which will premiere on Aug. 18. Tatum said he liked the idea of the film immediately.
“It’s actually a lot of good ol’ boys robbing NASCAR and that I had a good giggle out of me,” Tatum said.
NASCAR has been heavily involved in the film.
Zane Stoddard, NASCAR vice president of entertainment marketing and content development, is serving as executive producer. Stoddard wanted to make sure that NASCAR was being portrayed in the right light — and he said, Soderbergh has captured that in the film.
“One of the things that are important to us is that, although the characters are on their luck, lovable loser type characters, the vision of Steven and Channing laid down is that NASCAR is going to this huge event, which is independent of the tone of the characters — and that was important for us,” Stoddard said. “What is the most important, as we partner in these projects, there is a level of trust between us and the filmmakers. … That trust was there from the beginning and they made it very easy.”
This is not Soderbergh’s first adventure in a heist move. He also directed Oceans 11.
But he feels this film is different.
“When I read (the script) it felt like it was a kind of movie that I like to watch, the kind of film I want to make,” Soderbergh said. “It was different. It didn’t feel like a repetition of the Oceans movie. It is in the same universe but in another galaxy.”
After a meeting and a conversation with so many people in the NASCAR, Soderbergh has become a fan. He even finds himself rooting for the drivers that he has met during the production of the film.
“As I now see, it makes sense to me,” Soderbergh said.