"It was important to me that we all be clear that none of us are coming back to do this because of money," he says. "Everybody who had participation on the first film did very, very well, but when I started to talk to Clooney about it, I said 'It has to be clear to people that everybody came back because they like each other and they wanted to come back.' So all the marquee people not only took less than they get in the marketplace by a large, large extent, but also took less than they did on the first film. It makes things like this possible. There is no other way to do it, without it becoming prohibitive. The good news was, we knew everybody would say 'yes' because they all wanted to come back."
Initially conceiving of a sequel when he was on the Rome leg of the press tour for Ocean's Eleven, Soderbergh's ideas were blended with a script by George Nolfi called 'Honor Among Thieves', originally intended as a vehicle for John Woo. With the multi-location shoot far more intricate than the Las Vegas-set Ocean's Eleven, not to mention it attracting the constant attention of the European paparazzi, Soderbergh admits it was "a scramble" getting the film made. While the cast kicked back at Clooney's Lake Como villa, the director notes, "For me, it was hard. For myself, and George Nolfi and [producer] Jerry Weintraub, it was not a party."
Still, the pros obviously outweigh the cons. With the film bankrolled by Warner Brothers - also the home of Soderbergh and Clooney's production company Section Eight - cynics might say the director is making the sequel to keep his paymasters sweet. Particularly when Section Eight productions like Clooney's Confessions Of A Dangerous Mind and the Russo brothers' Welcome To Collinwood tanked at the box-office.
"It's tricky," says Soderbergh. "I want them all to do well, at least within the scale of how they were made. But it's hard. Our only rule is not to second-guess ourselves. On one level you could say, 'They made Ocean's Twelve because all these other movies that they're making aren't performing and they need to make a film once in a while and they need to make a hit to finance all these other mistakes'. That's partially true. I made Ocean's Twelve because I wanted to make it. Nobody asked me to make it. I wanted to make it - and I made it the way I wanted and was totally left alone by the studio. But it so happens that it does buy us a lot of 'mistakes' - or at least smaller movies that may not become profitable."