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'Sexy Men' take plunge into 'Ocean's Twelve'

December 5, 2004


RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. -- It's fine to be part of a pack of 12, but that still doesn't make you No. 1.

George Clooney looks absolutely despondent as he holds a recent copy of a national magazine in his $20 million-a-movie hand. In a black suit, white shirt and minus the 30 pounds he gained for a new movie, the A-lister appears disgusted as he reads a headline that makes him queasy.

It's not oil prices or the stock market that's making him sick. It's the fact that Jude Law has been proclaimed the Sexiest Man Alive, according to the foremost arbiter of pop culture, People magazine.

Clooney realizes this is no time to dwell on his own emotions and that he's not even one of the runners-up this year. He can't focus on his own pain because others are in a bigger emotional tailspin.

"Pretty boy Pitt is more than a little upset," Clooney whispers, pointing to his "Ocean's Twelve" co-star, who hovers in one corner of a suite at the rustic Bighorn Golf Club here.

'Ocean's' newcomer welcomed into the pack
'Ocean's' newcomer welcomed into the pack


PALM SPRINGS, Calif. -- Producer Jerry Weintraub remembers it well. "It was the first day of shooting in Chicago. Brad had just come back from 'Troy,' and he was still in a dress.

"All the guys were in a warehouse downtown doing a scene when Catherine Zeta-Jones walks in," says the veteran moviemaker about the "Ocean's Twelve" shoot.

"All I can remember is the high heels and the tight jeans. She was so gorgeous that all the guys were around her in 60 seconds."

Adds Pitt, "I was hurt because I look good in a dress."

Jones, one of the few women in "Ocean's Twelve," remembers it differently as she sips tea in black pants, a tight tank top and gold sparking jacket at the Bighorn Golf Club here. "I was just so intimidated, and I thought they'd want to replace me," says the Welsh beauty with a sigh.

Then she admits, "I'm intimidated every day. But on this set, it was great because they welcomed me with open arms. I had to leave my prissy girliness at the door."

Zeta-Jones enjoyed the many perks of shooting. "Well, George Clooney says, 'Come to my house in Italy. I came armed with two kids, a husband and a nanny. George opened the door and said, 'Catherine, hello. I'm shocked. Nobody takes me up on those invites,'" she says with a laugh.

And then there was the ultimate perk, which was all those lip locks with Pitt. Kissing Brad during their love scenes was just another day at work for her. "Basically, there were days when my task was to pop an Altoid and kiss Brad Pitt. Brad is so easy. Seriously, there is a history between the characters we play. She loves the guy so much, but she's dumped by him. Then ironically, she must go after the love of her life. It makes for good drama."

One question remains: Did her husband, Michael Douglas, get a bit peeved over all the action?

"It's hilarious. My husband would say, 'Honey, what are you doing this morning?' I'd say, 'Oh, I'm kissing Brad Pitt on a bridge.' He'd say, 'Well, what are you doing this afternoon? I'd say, 'Oh, I'm kissing Brad Pitt in an alley,' " she says, laughing.

"What could I do? I'm part of the gang now."

Distributed by Big Picture News

"Brad is down. He's hurt," Clooney adds as Matt Damon approaches and whispers, "You should ask Brad about it, because he's been talking about it a lot this morning. He's obsessing."

It's high noon out West, and the stars of "Ocean's Twelve" have gathered but not to plan their latest heist. They're actually stealing a few moments to discuss a pivotal event in American media life before they get to the sequel to "Ocean's Eleven," their $183 million hit. Then a long, lean figure in a beige Armani suit and matching gold shirt approaches Damon and places a hand on his back.

"George and I have started a club," says Brad Pitt, looking tenderly at his younger co-star. "It's for former Sexiest Men Alive. We work with the young now to coach them. First lesson: Jude had a great flair. He ran a great campaign, but Matty will get there."

"It's my dream," says Damon, emitting a little dramatic sob.

Until then he will just have to be content with starring in a major holiday movie called "Ocean's Twelve." The sequel to the 2001 box office bonanza, directed by Steven Soderbergh and opening Friday, stars Clooney, Pitt, Damon, Don Cheadle, Julia Roberts and Andy Garcia. It also features three new heists that take the con men and thieves to Rome, Paris and Amsterdam.

There are also a few newcomers, including Vincent Cassel and Catherine Zeta-Jones as an agent and Pitt's ex-girlfriend. She's tracking the men as they try to find enough loot to pay casino boss Garcia back before he kills them.

Over coffee, the entire cast gathered on a rainy day on a golf course to discuss the mayhem, the madness and their methods when it came to jumping into the deep end of the "Ocean's" again.

Q. Did anyone actually get along on this set, or are you all going to tell us it was one big love fest because that looks so good in print?

Clooney: No, it was actually a job on this one. There was actually no camaraderie at all. They're really a bunch of dorks. Quite honestly, Brad Pitt set the tone. He's such a movie star, so it was very hard. Most of them are fun people except for Julia [Roberts]. We don't like her or her twins. But let's pose this to the group. Did anyone get actually get along?

Damon: (shaking his head) No, not really no.

Cheadle: Just answer her question.

Clooney: Shut up, Mr. "Hotel Rwanda." Mr. Actor .... I guess I got along with Carl Reiner, because he's older, but I don't really like the rest of them.

Pitt: There's a low level of maturity here, so we bonded quite quickly again.

Q. When the box office loot rolled in from the first film, was a sequel a given? Did you start scribbling notes on napkins?

Clooney: Honestly, the entire cast was doing press in Rome, and Steven [Soderbergh], who had never been to Italy before, was sitting with us in a restaurant. He looks up and says, "I've got an idea for a sequel." The film hadn't even opened yet, or maybe it just opened. So the truth of the matter is that we wouldn't have shown up if Steven hadn't had an idea of telling the story in a different way.

Q. Sequels are so tricky because you have to live up to the expectations of the first one. Was there any trepidation when it came to coming back for another round?

Cheadle: I think that Steven could have been safe and tried to do the same thing again, but this film was a complete departure. It was almost more fun, I think, and a lot more cinematic.

Clooney: The problem with sequels as we all agree is that it's usually just sort of a rehash of the film before it and trying to take the things that work and do them again. Steven had a way of saying, "Well, let's mix up what just happened in the first one and really throw these guys off." All of a sudden, when the Ocean's gang is on the defensive, it's a completely different set of rules, and that to me was what I think was the most fun for us. I think that the audience and we all felt that we may not pull this one off.

Damon: Also, you're introducing a new character played by Catherine Zeta-Jones, who's like a central character in the movie who was trying to catch us. You want her to be kind of formidable, and you want Vincent's [Cassel] new character to be formidable as well. The difference this time is that in the first film, we had it all together. You were never really in doubt that this crew was going to pull off this big Vegas heist. Suddenly in the sequel we've got to do some paying it back.

Clooney: We're bumbling idiots. The end is not certain, which I think is part of the fun.

Damon: But unlike the "Star Wars" sequel, we don't have those freaking little Ewoks to bring new adventure.

Clooney: The Ewoks are actually in "Ocean's Thirteen." People will have to wait a few years for that one.

Q. There were also a lot of perks on the set, including free stays at George Clooney's beautiful villa in Italy. Did he ask you to leave a credit card for incidentals?

Cheadle: We had to pay for the entire thing. It's not like it was free.

Clooney: I thought it was generous and I gave them a cut rate. In the end, I guess there were no regrets when it came to opening my home. Matt was very clean. He always cleaned up his room and he helped drive the boat to work.

Q. For months, we read about all the high jinks on location. Were there ever some low moments that brought even the biggest movie star down to regular person level?

Clooney: Well, we were in Italy when some younger girl approached and said to me, "Hey, George, how old are you?" Stupidly enough, I asked the question you should never ask, which is, "Well, how old do you think I am?" She said, "50." I said, "Wait, you think that I'm 50 years old!" She says, "51?" So, Steven thought that was really funny, and now the line is in the film.

Q. George, you're spending more and more time in Europe these days. Considering all those nosy female tourists asking your age, why have you relocated?

Clooney: Good food. No, I've been lucky enough to have a home in Italy and spend some time there. I'm a huge fan of all of it. I grew up in Kentucky. So I didn't get to travel too much when I was young. We didn't travel a whole lot in Kentucky, as you can well imagine. So I've been sort of discovering a lot of the world. I'm reminded of what my father always said: "Don't wake up at 65 and think about what you should've done."

Cheadle: Or at 50.

Clooney: That one hurt.

Q. Are there any plans to do a third "Ocean's"?

Clooney: We came up with our own script, which is the musical "Ocean's Five, Six, Seven, Eight."

Q. Until then you have that Sexiest Man Alive campaign to run for Matt.

Damon: I'm hoping for my moment in the sun. We're also hoping to get George the 50 and Over Sexiest Man Alive issue.

Clooney: That's a good one, Matt. Now shut up. You think I'm really 50?

Distributed by Big Picture News


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