George Clooney: Johnny Depp, Mark Wahlberg turned down Ocean’s 11

“We had some very famous people tell us to screw up,” Clooney recalled.

George Clooney Shouts Out ‘Ocean’s Eleven’ Cast Who Could Have Been.

Clooney stated at the 2023 TCM Classic Film Festival with director Steven Soderbergh that the 2001 film was originally set to star Johnny Depp and Mark Wahlberg, who both turned down roles for other projects.

“Steven had just done Erin Brockovich and ‘Traffic’ and was nominated to direct both films. So people really wanted to work with Steven,” Clooney said during the event Entertainment Weekly.

Soderbergh added, “Some people have told us no, by the way.”

Clooney continued, “They did. Some very famous people have told us to fuck right away: Mark Wahlberg, Johnny Depp. There were others. They regret it now. I regret doing ‘Batman’.

Clooney credits Soderbergh for trying to infuse “Ocean’s Eleven” with a 1970s cinematic sensibility.

“It’s also important to understand where we were at that time,” he said. “At that time, the studios made very big, broad, not very good films. Steven’s idea was to try to smuggle all the independent film stuff these young filmmakers were learning back into the studio system. It wanted to go back to the things they were doing between 1964 and 1975.”

As reported Species at the time, Depp was considered for the role of Linus Caldwell before Mark Wahlberg was later cast; Wahlberg parted ways with the film and helmed the Planet of the Apes remake instead. That’s when Matt Damon got the role.

Luke and Owen Wilson, Joel and Ethan Coen, Mike Myers, Bruce Willis, Ewan McGregor, Alan Arkin and Ralph Fiennes were still in talks to star.

“Ocean’s Eleven” ended up having an ensemble cast including Clooney, Damon, Brad Pitt, Julia Roberts, Andy Garcia, Don Cheadle and Elliott Gould. The trilogy of films spawned a spinoff “Ocean’s 8” and another remake of 1960’s “Ocean’s 11” starring Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling.

Damon has previously spoken about his regrets for turning down James Cameron’s 2009 film Avatar. Damon infamously turned down 10 percent of the profits from “Avatar” in exchange for directing the film. The salary would have been roughly $270 million, as “Avatar” made box office history, grossing more than $2.9 billion. Cameron recently said he would welcome Damon back to a franchise role “to put the world back in balance.”

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