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Ocean's 12 - In the first film, the caper wasn't the most important part. It was the camaraderie

Feature by: Jack Foley

HAVING gambled and won by remaking Ocean's 11 and actually bettering the movie, it seemed only natural that a sequel might follow.

"The only danger is repeating yourself," explained George Clooney, while promoting Ocean's 12.

"But in truth, we didn't start the first one with the idea of doing a second. The second one came about organically.

"We were literally in a restaurant in Rome and Steven Soderbergh [the director], who had never been to Italy before, looked up and said, 'I have an idea for a sequel'.

"The truth of the matter is we wouldn't have shown up if Steven hadn't had a different way of telling the story.

"The problem with sequels, as we all agree, is that it's usually just sort of a rehash of the film before it. You try to detect the things that work and Steven had a way of saying, 'well, let's mix up what just happened in the first one and really throw these guys off'.

"We thought that was an interesting idea and a reason to do a sequel."

The sequel in question is set three years after the events of Ocean's 11, as Danny Ocean (Clooney) and his crew are tracked down by Terry Benedict's vengeful casino boss (Andy Garcia) and given two weeks to pay him back with interest.

Jetting off to Europe, therefore, it is up to the super-thieves to pull off enough jobs to pay their debt, while also finding out who tipped Benedict off and trying to outwit the unwanted attentions of a rival master-thief, in the form of Vincent Cassel's rich-brat, The Night Fox.

Oh, and there's also the smaller matter of Catherine Zeta-Jones' dogged Interpol agent, who just happens to be a former love-interest of crew member, Rusty (Brad Pitt).

Unlike the first film, however, the odds are stacked far higher against success, particularly as the people pitted against Ocean and co generally seem to be one step ahead.

Explains Clooney: "In the first one, we really planned it out. We decided to do it, we weren't forced into the situation where we had to do it.

"Now, all of a sudden, we're on the defensive, and it's a completely different set of rules. And that was to me, the most fun for us, we all felt that we may not pull this off."

Adds co-star, Matt Damon: "I think it's a lot more fun playing people who are totally fallible and screwing up. It was a lot more fun this time around."

For Clooney, however, another important factor in getting the formula right in the sequel was building on the obvious camaraderie that existed in the original remake.

The intricacies of the heist, itself, were of a secondary concern.

"I think that the mistake that filmmakers make is when they decide that the caper's the most important thing in the film," he explained.

"Until Get Shorty, they failed at making Elmore Leonard films because instead of focusing on the characters, they were focusing on the capers. And the capers in Elmore Leonard books aren't particularly good, but the characters are amazing.

"Then all of a sudden you see it done well, like in Get Shorty or Out Of Sight, and you focus on the characters.

"I mean, in the first film, the caper wasn't the most important part. It was the camaraderie. You want to have a good story and you want to have a good fun caper."

Achieving the camaraderie wasn't difficult, however, given the clear chemistry that exists between the cast members both on and off screen.

The relationship between Clooney and Pitt, in particular, has been likened to a modern-day Newman and Redford, while attending any press junket with cast members can be akin to watching a stand-up routine of hilarity and prank-playing.

Little wonder, then, to find that the European locations provided plenty of opportunities for more of the same.

Recalls Clooney: "Brad had done some dastardly things to me. When we were in Rome, when we first got to Italy, Brad had a memo put out in Italian that said that to all the Italian crew that Mr Clooney would appreciate if you would only engage him as Danny Ocean or Mr Ocean and don't look at him in the eyes and...

"It really sounded like I was trying to stay in character. For about a month, that went around.

"Everywhere I went, they were like, 'Okay, Mr Ocean'. (laughter) I found out and it got in the paper that I was like this diva..."

Rumour has it, however, that in order to get his own back, Clooney devised a bumper sticker for Pitt's car that read 'small penis on board', which remained in position for three weeks.

Given the obvious bond that exists between them, therefore, is talk of Ocean's 13 not too far off the mark.

"We came up with our own theory which was the musical," laughs Clooney. "But honestly, we're not even thinking about it. I mean, we really aren't.

"The only reason we did the last one was because Steven said, 'Here's a great idea' and Jerry said, 'Let's put it together'."

Adds Damon, more hopefully: "But If Steven and Jerry wanted to do it, everyone in the cast would be open to it. These are really fun things to work on."

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