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George Clooney, Matt Damon and Don Cheadle sit down and talk Ocean's Twelve!

What are the dangers of doing a sequel?

George Clooney: Well, there's all these egos involved, that's a problem, you could imagine. You know, the secret was, 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, we were sitting in a restaurant and he looked up and said, I've got an idea for a sequel. And we hadn't, the film hadn't opened, or maybe it had just opened, I think. We were doing the press tour for it. So, you know, the truth of the matter is we wouldn't have shown up if Steven hadn't had an idea, a different way of telling the story, you know.

What's something that happened we haven't heard so far?

Don Cheadle: Tell us when you got busted over the border with all that heroin.

George Clooney: It wasn't heroin. It wasn't heroin first of all. It was crack. It was a fun one.

Will there be another sequel?

George Clooney: We came up with our own theory, which was the musical, Ocean's 5,6,7,8. Look, we're not even thinking about it. Honestly, we really aren't. The only reason we did the last one because Steven said here's a great idea. Jerry [Weintraub] said let's put it together.

Matt Damon: If Steven and Jerry wanted to do it, everyone in the cast would be open to it. They're really fun things to work on.

George Clooney: For everybody except for Steven and Jerry. They really had to work.

Is it cooler in Europe than it is in Las Vegas?

George Clooney: Let's go to the coolest.

Matt Damon: The Director, it's the director that makes me cool.

George Clooney: Ooh, good answer. Ooh.

Don Cheadle: Definitely I would have to agree with Matt. Steven set the tone and I loved this film, he could've been really safe and tried to do the same thing over again but this film was a complete departure and a lot more fun I think and a lot more cinematic. He just opened it up and I think it's a testament to his talent that he can do that and he's not scared to do that.

George Clooney: And Jerry too. Jerry getting everybody together makes a big difference. Those are the two cool elements of this group. The rest of them are kind of dorks.

Talk about Steven as cameraman.

Don Cheadle: For me it really allowed me to trust him because I know that he's not sitting forty feet away looking at a 41⁄2" monitor trying to decide if you really hit what he asked you to hit. He's right there, and suddenly he'll put the camera down, say something to you, and go again, it's really intimate. I really like the way he shoots.

George Clooney: He doesn't really say much either. He'll put the camera down and look at you and go, "Oh, OK." But he didn't really direct the film, I think we should point that out.

Don Cheadle: He did operate the camera but he did not direct.

George Clooney: No.

Don Cheadle: He allowed each of us to direct our own selves.

George Clooney: Our own scenes.

Don Cheadle: Just our own selves.

Matt Damon: And then they had a kind of production designer guy who tied it all together.

George Clooney: Snapped it together, and there you go. We got lucky.

How do you make sure it's not too hard following the plot in a caper movie?

George Clooney: Right. Sure, I think in almost every good caper movie, the caper's the least important part. In Eleven, the caper wasn't the most important part, it was sort of the camaraderie. You want to have a good story, and you want to have a good fun caper but I don't think the caper is.

Don Cheadle: You trying to say something?

George Clooney: I got it.

How differently did you approach this material as opposed to the first film?

Matt Damon: What's different for me this time, I didn't actually read the script.

George Clooney: Yeah, that's not important to us.

Matt Damon: I think if you approach it that way, then you're always going to be…

George Clooney: Surprised really.

Matt Damon: Gob smacked.

George Clooney: We find that to work really well. I did that with Batman and Robin too.

Matt Damon: You could tell just from looking at the movie.

George Clooney: There were a lot of surprises in that.

Don Cheadle: It's a lot more fun, playing people who are totally fallible and screwing up, it was a lot more fun to play this time around.

George Clooney: It's sort of the natural progression of you know, the first one was, we really planned it out. We decided to do it, we weren't forced into the situation where we had to do it and all of a sudden when we were on the defensive, it was a completely different set of rules, and that was, to me, what I think was the most fun, the audience and we all felt that we may not pull this off.

Matt Damon: And also you're introducing a new character, a central character in the movie who's trying to catch us so if it seems like we're just going to get away with it, it kind of weakens that character's structure. You want her to be one step ahead of us, stealing Rusty's phone. You want her to be formidable. And you want Vincent's character to be formidable as well.

George, what do you like about Working in Europe?

George Clooney: Good food. No, I've been lucky enough to have a home in Italy and spend some time there and I'm a huge fan of all of it. I grew up in Kentucky so I didn't get to travel too much when I was young. We didn't travel a whole lot in Kentucky as you can well imagine.

How competitive are you with the new cast members, like Vincent Cassell?

George Clooney: He is very handsome. First of all, pretty boy Cassell. Yeah, I'm competitive, sure but especially with agile French men. There's a joke in there but I don't know what it is. I'll have to work on it. Sure, I think everybody up here, on the basketball court even, is competitive. I don't think I can answer that one either.

How hard was it to convince Julia Roberts to go along with the inside jokes about herself?

George Clooney: Well, it sort of came up accidentally because Julia, in the middle of filming I think the first month of shooting, we read in the paper that she was pregnant and everything sort of changed suddenly. Uh-oh, we've got to rethink what we're doing here. But the question was whether or not Julia was willing to do something as ballsy as that, which is to make fun of herself or celebrity or whatever that is. And it's a hard thing to do because you're using yourself as a target. And she just jumped in with both feet.

Matt Damon: Yeah, that whole sequence hinges on her completely going for it. In terms of shooting, that was probably the most fun that we had. Don turned to me at one point and said, "I'm actually doing a pratfall." We were just completely over the top. It was a blast to shoot. It was really, really fun and it became evident that it was going to be really fun when she showed up in the first take and she was just so good. She was clearly just taking the leap off the cliff so we went with her.

Why does the film appear grittier?

Matt Damon: I think we're just older and look less glamorous.

George Clooney: Thank you.

Matt Damon: And by we, you know who I'm talking about.

George Clooney: Once again, that one hurt. That one hurt. I was going to smack him with the microphone. If you look at the first one, the first one actually was shot less. It wasn't as grand as I think people remember it. When you look at it, it's still a lot of handheld camera. Steven uses things, he's always been trying to bring into it the things he learned from independent films, foreign films, back into studio pictures. I think this is another step towards that which is I think you're right. It's a little grittier but it's still high end entertainment. We're not disemboweling anyone. Well, there were a couple we did.

Don Cheadle: I don't think those made it.

George Clooney: No, they were cut.

Don Cheadle: That got cut. Oh, I think it's on a much bigger pallet than the first one. And I think he's playing with colors in a different way and sound. I just think it's a lot more fun and it moves more. It's a lot more kinetic than the first one to me. And I think that as George was saying, he's bringing elements into big studio feature films from an independent world, from a foreign world, things to me that are always much more exciting than just sort of the standard slick Hollywood take.

George, are you co-writing and directing Good Night and Good Luck? Why is now a good time for that?

George Clooney: Oh, it's a project that we were going to do as a live project for CBS about a year ago and CBS decided not to do it. But it's been a passion of mine for a long time. Growing up around broadcast journalism my whole life sort of dictated whether we were living in a nice house or not, sort of the ups and downs of broadcast journalism. And also talking about using fear to attack civil liberties and writ of Habeus Corpus and things like that. To me, it's an interesting time to constantly talk about things that can be cyclical. But it's not a political film. Actually we're doing the story of Edward R. Murrow taking on, these four broadcasts where he took on McCarthy and McCarthy did the rebuttal. And it's based on that. That's what we're interested in and the Box of Lights and Wires speech which some of you will know here, which was a pretty great speech about the responsibility of television which is something that just keeps coming back and true again. So we'll do it. I'll mess it up. I'll screw it up somehow.

Talk about Syriana?

Matt Damon: If you saw Traffic, it's written by Steve Gaghan who wrote Traffic. And Gaghan is directing. George and Steven Soderbergh are producing it. Structurally, it's really similar to Traffic in that it's four or five different storylines converging around one topic, but in this case the topic is oil instead of drugs. So it's structurally similar to Traffic and it's a big directing job for Steve Gaghan. Hopefully, so far, so good.

George Clooney: Yeah, it's going great and Jeffrey Wright's in it. It's a great cast and it's about corruption. It deals with oil in some of the same ways that Traffic dealt with the war on drugs. So if we don't screw it up, it's a really interesting premise and a really interesting movie. We'll see. We've got our fingers crossed.

Matt Damon: But we could screw it up.

George Clooney: Oh, we're very good at screwing things up.

How much of the plot and scenes were improvised in Ocean's Twelve?

Matt Damon: Well, structurally, heist movies in general scriptwise have to be really tight because there are so many storylines going and so much happening and they're so plot oriented a lot of the time, so there was leeway for all of us within a set structure, but the script was pretty- -

George Clooney: Had to be pretty tight by design.

Matt Damon: But there are still a lot of little character stuff that were open to us. Eight or nine months out, Steven sent us all a script with a note attached saying call me with ideas, suggestions. And Steven tends to be really- - the environment's incredibly relaxed so it's kind of fair game that you take a shot with stuff and see if you get a reaction from him and if he starts chuckling, then you stay with it. And if not, you go running back with your tail between your legs to the script.

Don Cheadle: And say it was George's idea.

Talk about Carl Reiner and Elliot Gould?

George Clooney: Well, first of all, the fun part is, and we talked about this three years ago when we were doing it but it's really true. Here's a big old room full of a lot of well known people. And they gravitate around Carl and Elliot who are, forget that they are just incredibly fun and intelligent. They've been through it all and it's so much fun to sit around and have them tell stories, and they're curious still, they're still interested in- - They're not trying to teach you any lessons. They're asking you questions. They teach you a lot about how to live your life the right way. They're just the coolest guys, both of them. And Shaobo. Shaobo too.

Don Cheadle: We love Shaobo.

How did you get any work done when you're having so much fun? What's a typical day?

Matt Damon: I think Steven Soderbergh, I'm sure he sees these things about how much fun it was and he wants to throttle us because really, the heavy lifting on these movies really does fall to Steven, which he likes. He likes it that way. He's a creatively really restless person, loves to work and I think that's one of the reasons he likes to direct and be the cinematographer and camera operator and go home and edit at night. So these movies, for me anyway, they're always going to feel easier just because the work's divided up 12 different ways. We're used to doing movies where we go every day to work and we're working five, six days a week and never have a day off. In Ocean's, we have three days off a week or something like that. The days we work, we really did work. We actually had to show up for 12 hours, but by and large, I think it's always going to feel easier to us. Easier for us but really, really hard on Stven.

George Clooney: You didn't answer her question, you know. That was sort of a political answer.

Matt Damon: Typical day of work was…

George Clooney: We get up, we go to work at a decent hour. We would work for, I don't know, eight, nine hours. And then start drinking. Go to the rooftop, start drinking.

George, now that you're gaining weight, are you being treated differently?

George Clooney: Yes, I did, thank you. And I'm 50.

Matt Damon: Well, it's not like when Gwyneth Paltrow put on the fat suit and nobody could recognize her. He looked like George. He just looked really heavy and like 50.

George Clooney: These are my friends. Imagine the people who aren't m y friends, what they'd do. No, listen, it's a good thing. I wouldn't do it again. I'll do it once. I'm in the process of trying to lose a lot of that weight. It's hard on your system. It was interesting too. You were certainly less recognizable and that made it sort of interesting, but we were in some places you didn't really want to go out anyway. Over in the middle east so Matt and I stayed in our hotel rooms a lot.

Matt Damon: Eating.

George Clooney: Eating and eating and eating.

Matt Damon: I put on 20 pounds for no reason. It was not a character choice, just an accident.

Is this still the greatest gig on earth?

George Clooney: Mm-hmm. Who is it, I'm trying to remember, it was Jimmy Stewart or somebody, like, "If something could talk you out of it, it should. Let it." Yeah, it's a great gig. Let's face it. It's a great gig. We all like it. That's why we continue to do it. We really like it at this level because we get to be more creative. You get to have some input in what you're making as opposed to just relying on what they want to do. Don's going to direct. It's an exciting place to be for me.

Don Cheadle: I agree 100% and for me, it was great to do Ocean's because it was kind of a rest from what I'd just been doing. Right before that ended, sort of reunite with all these friends and things happen on the set. We'd think of movie ideas on the set and just really be creative and think about other projects that we wanted to pursue later. So it's just really been a cool breeding ground, in a good way. A good Petri dish to just have everything cooking.

What did you learn about each other on this movie?

Matt Damon: Which way do we go with that one?

Don Cheadle: I'm going to try to answer this really honestly, so if I put you to sleep, I'm sorry. I don't think I learned more about anybody necessarily this time, but I am definitely closer to everybody. I mean, I see Elliot now a couple times a week, Scotty Caan and I [are friends], I mean, everybody. Casey, all down the line. These two guys up here. That's what was kind of cool about this one. The first day that we came back to work in Chicago, the first day all of us were back together, we just stood around for two hours just talking and just reminiscing. Different groupings that we made and Steven was kind of walking through it, letting us just sort of get reacquainted. And then after a couple hours we were all saying, "Are we going to shoot? Are we going to work today?" And Steven [let us] all sort of naturally settle into place. Everyone said yeah, it kind of feels comfortable here. We all went to lunch and when we came back, Steven had all these chalk marks drawn on the floor and angles and heights and had done the whole thing in his head. I thought, "What a bizarre and cool way to block a scene. Just kind of hang out and talk as we would" and then you see that scene and see what he did. It's mind blowing.

George Clooney: It's also, this isn't a group of guys who just got together for one movie before this. We did Out of Sight together, we did Fail Safe together, we've worked on a lot of project together. You've done Traffic with Steven. You and I have worked together on other projects. This whole group of people, it's a group we really enjoy not just working with but being around. So when you all get together in a room, it is really fun. There is a good sense of camaraderie not just because you like the guys, but because you get to work with them a lot.

Dont't forget to also check out: Ocean's Twelve