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George Clooney
Getting serious ... but George Clooney can't keep a straight face for long.
Clooney gets serious on Oceans



IN the midst of Palm Springs, California, a frenzied media is summonsed to hear the wise words of George Clooney and company as they assemble, with dry humour in tow, in order to hype up Steven Soderbergh's Ocean's Twelve.

Well, perhaps not wise, but in the midst of it all, immaculately attired in black, looking perpetually distinguished, is George Clooney.

Never one to take himself seriously, sitting in the centre of a podium surrounded by some of his co-stars and the hungry wolf-like journalists attempting seriousness, Clooney is the master of his domain.

Quick-witted and charming, Clooney may be a Hollywood big shot but it is evident when watching him in this forum that he loves to play, especially when it comes to ribbing co-star Brad Pitt.

According to the jocular Clooney, it was Pitt who resisted coming back for another game of Ocean's.

"Pretty boy Pitt. You know, he's been a little upset because of the Jude Law sexiest man thing. You should ask him. He was down, it hurt him," says Clooney laughing.

The sequel is set three years after Ocean's Eleven and has Danny Ocean gathering up his complete gang of con artists and thieves from the first film in New York City before they all jet off to Amsterdam, Rome and Paris to pull off three separate heists.

All the while, the boys must deal with increasing pressure from an angry and vengeful Terry Benedict (Andy Garcia), a dedicated but ultra-glamorous Europol agent (Catherine Zeta-Jones) and a mysterious French rival simply called Dinner Jacket (Vincent Cassel). Getting this gang to reunite for Ocean's Twelve was no easy task but in a rare moment of seriousness, Clooney admits creating a sequel that doesn't resemble a mere commercial enterprise was something else again.

"The truth was, we didn't start the first one with the idea of doing a second, so the second one came about organically. We were literally in Rome and Steven, who had never been to Italy before, and I were sitting in a restaurant and he looked up and said, 'I've got an idea for a sequel'.

"So the truth of the matter is we wouldn't have shown up if Steven hadn't had an idea and a different way of telling the story," Clooney explains.

"The problem with sequels, as we all agree, is that it's usually just a rehash of the film before it and trying to take the things that work.

"Steven had a way of saying, 'Let's mix up what happened in the first one and throw these guys off'." Clooney adds that while this is another complex caper film, a good film is far more than a convoluted series of plot twists.

"I think in almost every good caper movie, the caper's the least important part, as in Eleven, it was the camaraderie.

"You want to have a good story and a fun caper but I think the mistake that filmmakers make is when they decide that the caper's the most important thing.

As for another sequel, Clooney is non-committal. "We came up with our own theory, which was the musical, Ocean's 5, 6, 7, 8," he begins, typically. "(But) look, we're not even thinking about it, honestly, we really aren't."

Clooney, of course, cannot stand being too serious about Ocean's Twelve for too long, dryly admitting that no, there was absolutely no camaraderie on this film set.

"This one was actually a job.

Did anybody get along in this?

I don't really remember. Quite honestly, Brad set the tone and he's such a movie star but it was fun, we had a great time. Always, fun people, except for Julia. We don't like her. Or her twins."

While the first Ocean's was set in Vegas, the sequel has the clan in Europe, during which time Clooney took advantage of staying in his Italian house for much of the shoot.

The actor recalls inviting his cast-mates to stay with him and, looking back, he admits he has regrets.

"I have a lot of regrets about them staying in my house, although I have to say that Matt is very clean and cleans his room. But seriously, we had a great time."

That great time includes the requisite practical jokes. Clooney concedes Pitt "had done some dastardly things to me".

"When we first got to Italy, Brad had a memo put out in Italian that said Mr Clooney would appreciate it if you would only address him as Danny Ocean or Mr Ocean and don't look at him in the eyes," he says.

"He handed it out so it really sounded like I was trying to stay in character, so for about a month everywhere I went, it was like, 'OK, Mr Ocean'."

"When it got into the paper that I was like this diva who made all the crew call me Mr Ocean, I felt like I had to get him."

And he did by putting bumper stickers on the back of his car, one saying 'I'm gay and I vote', the other 'Small penis on board'.

"People were honking at him and waving and he thinks it's because he's Brad Pitt and he's waving back," Clooney smiles.

Ocean's Twelve opens today.




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