The star studded Ocean’s Eleven cast could have looked something different.
George Clooney recently confirmed messages that both Mark Wahlberg and Johnny Depp were approached to play Linus in the first installment of Steven Soderbergh’s now-iconic franchise. The role eventually went to Matt Damon.
The film’s A-list also included Brad Pitt, Julia Roberts, Andy Garcia and Don Cheadle, with producer Jerry Weintraub and a great script to help them put their team together. Nevertheless, they encountered some roadblocks.
“Steven had just finished Erin Brockovich And Trafficand he was nominated to direct both movies,” Clooney said during a Ocean’s Eleven panel at the 2023 TCM Film Festival. “So people really wanted to work with Steven.”
“That being said, some people have said no to us,” Soderbergh agreed. “They did,” Clooney replied. “Some very famous people told us to get the hell out of here. Mark Wahlberg, Johnny Depp. There were others. They now regret it. I’m sorry I’m fucking Batman.”
Although several actors turned down roles in the film, having Roberts signed on at the time was a great benefit to the project. Clooney recalled how he convinced the actress to star alongside him Ocean.
“We sent Julia a script and I wrote a note that said, ‘I hear you’re getting $20 (million) a picture now,'” he recalled. And we sent her a $20 bill. … It made her laugh, and yes, she immediately jumped on board.
The film’s success spawned two sequels Ocean’s Twelve (2004) and Ocean’s Thirteen (2007) with the original cast, as well as female spin-off Ocean 8 (2018), starring Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway, Rihanna, Helena Bonham Carter, Mindy Kaling, Sarah Paulson and Awkwafina.
A prequel is in active development at Warner Bros. by Jay Roach, with Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling in talks to star. Plot details are kept secret, but it is known to be original Ocean’s Eleven story set in Europe in the 1960s.