By Angela Dawson
Entertainment News Wire
Oscar-winning actress Catherine Zeta-Jones was convinced her "Ocean's Twelve" cast mates disliked her because they never played a practical joke on her throughout the 10-week shoot in the U.S. and Europe.
"But I have been informed that they can take up to three years" for one of their jokes to play out, points out the Welsh beauty with a smile. "I've known George (Clooney, her co-star) for two years now, so I have a year to go, I guess."
Zeta-Jones might want to count her blessings. Clooney's pranks, as his colleagues can attest, can be elaborate. Just ask Brad Pitt, who unknowingly drove his car around L.A. for three days before realizing Clooney had affixed an "I'm gay and I vote" bumper sticker to his passenger door.
Counting the stars
Besides Northern Kentucky's favorite son (or sun if we're talking about stars), George Clooney, "Ocean's Twelve" is filled with big names. Including:
The film is directed by Steven Soderbergh, who also directed "Ocean's Eleven."
Pitt retaliated by circulating an official-looking memo to the Italian crew on "Ocean's Twelve" ordering them to address Clooney as his character, Danny Ocean, or face repercussions. It took Clooney a few weeks to figure out why everyone was calling him "Mr. Ocean" and uncover who was behind the set-up.
"We all love each other very much, but we also really mess with each other," says Pitt. "We take each other out any opportunity we get."
On this weekend afternoon in the California desert, everyone appears to be playing nicely. Several stars have convened to promote the sequel to the hit 2001 heist caper, "Ocean's Eleven," itself a remake of a 1960 movie that starred Hollywood's Rat Pack (Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., among others).
Clooney, Pitt, Zeta-Jones, Matt Damon, Don Cheadle, Andy Garcia and producer Jerry Weintraub (who has a cameo) are here to talk about their experiences revisiting the colorful pack of crooks they play in the movie.
The sequel picks up where the original left off. Danny Ocean (Clooney) and his crew have moved on with their lives after successfully robbing a Las Vegas casino of $160 million. Not surprisingly, the casino's owner, Terry Benedict (Garcia), wants his money returned, and with the help of an informant, tracks down each member of Ocean's crew. The gang has less than two weeks to come up with the money -- plus interest -- or else. Finding it too risky to plan another U.S.-based heist, the gang heads to Europe. There, they attract even more enemies, including a snooping Europol investigator (Zeta-Jones) and a crafty master thief (French actor Vincent Cassel), who challenges the group to steal a priceless Faberge egg.
With writer/director Steven Soderbergh absent for the press conferences, Clooney, 43, assumes the role of ringleader for the day. Typically, he is in a playful mood, answering nearly every question directed his way with a snappy, often sarcastic comeback.
Asked how well the ensemble got along this time around, Clooney deadpans, "This was actually a job." When Cheadle urges him to answer the question, he jokingly shoots back, "Shut up, man. Mr. 'Hotel Rwanda.' 'Mr. Actor,'" referring to his co-star's much talked about role in the upcoming African civil war drama.
Cheadle laughs, knowing not to take Clooney seriously, especially at a press conference. "It was great doing 'Ocean's Twelve' because it was kind of respite from what I'd been doing just before," he says of making the ensemble crime caper. Working with the same cast as before was even more fun this time around. "The first day we were all back together we just stood around for two hours talking," he recalls.
Clooney says Soderbergh conceived the idea for the sequel while the group was promoting the first movie in Rome. "We were sitting in a restaurant and (Steven) looked up and said, 'I've got an idea for a sequel,'" he recalls. Soderbergh proposed they turn the concept of a successful heist on its head, have everything that can go wrong go wrong, and move most of the action to Europe. There isn't even a casino involved in the sequel.
All of the original players signed on, confident they would be entering new territory.
"The problem with a sequel," explains Clooney, "is that it's usually just 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.' We thought it was an interesting idea."
"I'd like to call it work, but it was pretty much automatic for us," admits Pitt. "First of all, there's a very low level of maturity amongst all the guys, so that helps. We bond very quickly because of it.
"Then, we've got the beautiful women to make us look a little better," he adds, glancing over at Zeta-Jones, who plays both his foil and love interest in the sequel.
For Damon, returning to "Ocean's" was a welcome experience after starring in the actioner "The Bourne Supremacy." He delighted in playing a supporting player that also was fallible. Being part of an ensemble also had other perks.
"We're used to doing movies where we go to work every day and are working five or six days a week without a day off," says Damon. "On 'Ocean's Twelve,' we'd have three days a week off or something like that. I mean, the days we worked, we really did work."
Everyone agrees that shooting in exotic locales such as Rome, Sicily, Amsterdam, Paris, Monte Carlo and Lake Como was no hardship. Weintraub even arranged to convert a hotel penthouse suite into a private restaurant for the A-list cast during the shoot in Rome.
No one's saying yet whether there will be another "Ocean's" installment. Most of the cast here appears to be up for another go-round as long as Soderbergh comes up with an interesting new story. Pitt jokingly suggests the next one could be a musical.
"I could do an interpretive dance," he offers.
Weintraub, the producer, isn't so sure about an "Ocean's Thirteen."
"I'm superstitious," he says.
As the producer, he knows how difficult it was to get the sequel made. Shot in five countries, seven locations, with several different crews, "Ocean's Twelve" was a "logistical nightmare," he says. He doesn't rule it out, though.
"To do sequels you must find a story that's better than the last and continue on with the characters."