Clooney, yes, a Soderbergh cash crop, but I voted for Channing Tatum. He's the current muse, and he rejuvenated Soderbergh. In Magic Mike, if you're able to embrace the thongs and foreground camera gags, it's a meditation on the crossroads of sexuality and commerce, personas and true personalities. Next up, Logan Lucky seems to be a promising flick with Tatum no doubt hold it down as he always does (ever seen XXL or Step Up or Hail, Caeser!?). Although Logan seems like a variation on an Oceans theme, I think its more intimate cast is promising, especially since Soderbergh does so well with character development. And, of course, I never went much for those Oceans movies. So, for me, Soderbergh is getting back to a more personal cinema through Channing Tatum, and therefore he's got to be the MVP.
Soderbergh can do interesting things with pretty much anyone, but I have to vote Damon because he's one of the few directors who's figured out what makes him tick. Damon has kind of an everyman reputation, but most of his best performances--Colin Sullivan in the Departed, the titular The Talented Mr. Ripley, and even Good Will Hunting himself--feature characters caught between two worlds or living a double life. (Heck, even Jason Bourne's having a constant identity crisis.) Damon's at his most interesting when he's playing with duality, and his two lead roles with Soderbergh (conflicted bisexual in Behind the Candelabra, idiot-playing-genius in The Informant) have tapped into that thread. Here's hoping that they work together again, because the marriage of the right director with just the right material is exactly what Damon needs right now.
It's easy to choose George Clooney, because he does so well in different genres. He doesn't necessarily work well with Soderbergh, he is just too talented for his own good.
But when the also-talented Julia Roberts works with him, she goes the extra mile, reaches deeper and finds characters beyond the simple smile-and-be-charming persona she usually presents. She is a whole person in his films and those films are more worth watching than most of her filmography. When she works with him, she is a master.
Oldkid on the forum, Portland Oregon
Clearly a more interesting poll would have been 2nd runner up.
As collaborators, I think George Clooney has been more influential on Steven Soderbergh than any of the other actors in this list, particularly in the early- to mid- 2000s. That said, I think Matt Damon as an actor more fully embodies the versatility and experimentation that defines Soderbergh's work.
Though I enjoy much of his work, when I think of Sodenbergh, two films immediately jump to mind: Out of Sight, and Ocean's Eleven. And one face jumps out: that smarmy, smirky, far-too-handsome George Clooney mug.