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'No egos' in Ocean's Twelve
14/12/2004 08:15  - (SA)  

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  • Paris - George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Julia Roberts may all be A-list celebrities used to top billing, but when it came to playing in Ocean's Twelve they brought fun, not egos, to the set, according to the movie's director Steven Soderbergh.

    "We have a whole 'life's-too-short' attitude to making movies," Soderbergh told a Paris media conference promoting the European opening of the film, a sequel to the 2001 heist flick Ocean's Eleven.

    Pitt, sitting alongside Damon, co-star Don Cheadle and producer Jerry Weintraub, added: "I understand the image of egos in Hollywood and all that, but it's rarely the truth.... We all just got along really well and had a laugh."

    That camaraderie and good-natured ribbing among the cast came across in the conference, with Cheadle piping up to answer questions to Pitt and Damon with his trademark humour.

    Yes, there would be a sequel to Ocean's Twelve, but it would take an X-rated tack and would be called The Porn Identity, Cheadle deadpanned, making a dig at Damon's spy films The Bourne Identity and The Bourne Supremacy .

    "Matt was still Jason Bourne" on set, Pitt joked.

    Who wore the skirt?

    Prompting Damon to reply: "Seeing as I didn't wear a skirt in my last movie, I feel like I've won." (A reference to Pitt's turn as tunic-wearing Achilles in the big-budget "Troy".)

    Buoyed by similar verbal duelling in front of the cameras, Ocean's 12 zips across several European locales and rely on the megawattage put out by some of the biggest names in Hollywood.

    Critics in the United States, where the film opened on Friday to instant box-office success, have called the film a light-hearted romp with little substance but engaging interplay between the stars.

    For the New York Times, it was "enjoyable (but) unabashedly trivial", and the online publication Slate said it relied on "momentum, the twinkle of stars, and that's about it."

    The actors themselves acknowledged the movie was the equivalent of a vacation: eschewing their $20m salaries and creative control clauses to play off one another in a project where champagne, fast cars and sexy clothes counted more than the often disposal story line.

    "I'm not even sure we were making a movie," said Pitt.

    The ensemble reprised their characters from the original film but throw out several of the conventions surrounding heist films - or many other films for that matter - and include many in-jokes and a cameo or two.

    The characters often come across as simply playing themselves - in one scene, literally so.

    In the new film, the crew of the original heist are brought together again when their wealthy casino-owning victim (Andy Garcia) forces them to pay him back through a number of robberies in Europe.

    Along the way, Pitt's character Rusty catches up with an ex-girlfriend (played by Catherine Zeta-Jones) who is now a top Eurocop and Clooney's Danny Ocean has to match wits with a wily French thief played by Vincent Cassel.

    The subtext plays louder than the scripted lines, though, and Soderbergh said much of the funny stuff was ad-libbed, but only up to a point.

    "That's where you've got to be careful because ad-libbing can get out of hand if you're not careful," he said.

    While Clooney showed himself to be a master of spontaneous dialogue in Ocean's Twelve, he had less luck avoiding other pitfalls on another film he is working on, however.

    The actor was to have joined Pitt and Damon in Paris to promote their collaborative caper, but had to cancel after coming down with a back injury sustained on the set of Syriana, a spy thriller with contemporary overtones.

    Both "Ocean" films were inspired by the 1960 Rat Pack film, Ocean's Eleven, starring Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr and Joey Bishop.

    The latest all-star heist caper stole top prize at the the North American box office over the weekend, getting away with $39.1m according to box office trackers Exhibitor Relations Co Inc.

    Edited by Tori Foxcroft

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