George Clooney jokes next ‘Ocean’s Eleven’ movie should cross over with ‘Magic Mike’

George Clooney jokes next ‘Ocean’s Eleven’ movie should cross over with ‘Magic Mike’

We’ve seen Danny Ocean rob the strip, but what about Danny Ocean stripping? It could happen if George Clooney gets his way.

TCM host Ben Mankiewicz asked both Soderbergh and Clooney about the possibility of revisiting the Ocean’s Eleven characters now, 15 years after the third film, Ocean’s Thirteen, premiered. Soderbergh responded there have been plenty of conversations about it, and he pointed to Ocean’s Eight as one result of such talks.

“They killed me, by the way,” added Clooney, referring to the fact that Sandra Bullock’s Debbie Ocean regularly visits the gravesite of her brother Danny in the 2018 film. Still, no one is ever confirmed as being in the tomb, and Debbie even ponders whether or not Danny is really dead.

Soderbergh countered Clooney with the fact that he took two years off Clooney’s age with the dates on the mausoleum, to which Clooney replied, “Sure, but I’m dead.”

The director wouldn’t give a straight answer on whether he’d make another Ocean’s film, teasing the audience as he slowly parsed out each word, “I’m… thinking… about… tomorrow.”

Clooney then went on to tease Soderbergh for instead turning his attention to the Magic Mike franchise, which seemingly just concluded with February’s Magic Mike’s Last Dance. He then jokingly suggested a movie in which the two series merge. “Ocean’s Mike?” he quipped while swinging his microphone phone in the style of a stripper helicoptering their own anatomy.

George Clooney in ‘Ocean’s Eleven’; Channing Tatum in ‘Magic Mike’

George Clooney in ‘Ocean’s Eleven’; Channing Tatum in ‘Magic Mike’

| Credit: Everett Collection (2)

Mankiewicz suggested Magic Danny, which Clooney ran with it, saying, “Danny gets his groove.” It’s not the most implausible idea. As Mankiewicz pointed out, there are plenty of strip clubs in Vegas — there’s even a Magic Mike Live show inspired by the movies.

Throughout the conversation, Clooney and Soderbergh discussed their partnership — which began with Out of Sight — why Ocean’s worked so well, and more. When Clooney and Soderbergh first met in 1997, they were coming off career disappointments. “I’d just done Batman and Robin,” said Clooney, which elicited cheers from the audience. “I know you like that movie,” he added, sarcastically. “I know you like the bat nipples.”

Meanwhile, Soderbergh had directed 1995’s The Underneath, a crime-thriller starring Peter Gallagher that flopped at the box office. A couple of years later, when the script for Ocean’s Eleven came along, Soderbergh said he thought it might finally be the perfect opportunity for him to combine his more indie, artistic sensibilities with big-budget Hollywood filmmaking. “It felt like the next iteration in my desire to work in the mainstream film business and make movies that could be released in a lot of theaters,” he shared. “I grew up watching movies made by great filmmakers that were commercially successful, distinctive movies. And I wanted to be part of that tradition.”

Added Clooney: “It’s also important to understand where we were at the time. The studios were making very big, broad, not very good films at that time. Steven had this idea of trying to infuse all of this independent film stuff that all of these young filmmakers were learning back into the studio system. It was going to get back to the things that they were doing from like 1964 to 1975.”

George Clooney in ‘Ocean’s 11’

George Clooney in ‘Ocean’s 11’

| Credit: Bob Marshak

Even with that in mind, Soderbergh still struggled to find his footing and nail down exactly what the visual style and approach to Ocean’s Eleven would be. “The first portion of the film, we shot in chronological order, and you can watch me figure it out,” he said. “The first week, week and a half, I still felt not dialed in. Then we got to this sequence, the planning sequence that takes place at Reuben’s [Elliott Gould] house. We were on set laying out this thing, and it was a 27-millimeter lens at a certain angle with a certain comp. That’s the default composition for the whole film. I had the zoom lens in my pocket, which I hadn’t used yet in the film, but I knew I wanted to use a zoom lens a lot. And I had a great script and I had a great cast.”

Speaking of that cast, which in addition to Clooney also includes Brad Pitt, Julia Roberts, Andy Garcia, Matt Damon, Don Cheadle, and more, Soderbergh had the power of his and Clooney’s combined names, as well as the connections of producer Jerry Weintraub and a stellar script to help them assemble their team.

Clooney recalled jokingly sending Roberts the script with a $20 bill and a note that says, “I hear you get 20 a picture now,” referring to her $20 million-per-film rate. The joke made her laugh, which led to her signing on to the movie.

That doesn’t mean it was all smooth sailing though. Clooney confirmed reports that both Mark Wahlberg and Johnny Depp were approached for Damon’s role as Linus. “Steven had just done Erin Brockovich and Traffic, and he was nominated for directing both films,” Clooney said. “So, people really wanted to work with Steven.”

“That said, some people did say no to us,” interjected Soderbergh.

“They did,” agreed Clooney. “Some very famous people told us to f— right off. Mark Wahlberg, Johnny Depp. There were others. They regret it now. I regret doing f—ing Batman.

They closed out the night by addressing Soderbergh’s temporary retirement from filmmaking, which he announced in 2013 and officially ended in 2016, despite working in between on projects like The Knick. “I conflated some frustrations that I had with the way that business works with the job,” Soderbergh explained of his temporary hiatus. “What I came to understand, fortunately through reading something that came to me, which turned into The Knick, is that I like the job. I’m built to do this job. And I just had gotten confused because the business is frustrating. So I try to really separate those two things, the job which I love, and the business, which is frustrating. But one of the pleasures is frankly making something that 20-plus years later anybody’s talking about. Because the worst fear for any filmmaker is feeling irrelevant.”

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