The Awesome Way George Clooney Convinced Julia Roberts To Join Ocean’s 11

Julia Roberts and George Clooney in Ocean's Eleven, Danny Ocean and Tess

George Clooney has been out and about on the interview circuit lately ahead of his 2020 movie The Midnight Sky, and while he’s hyped about his upcoming arctic adventure, he’s also been talking a lot about some of the franchises and movies that made his career that much brighter, including Ocean’s Eleven and its subsequent sequels. He recently revealed the way he convinced a-lister Julia Roberts to join the franchise after signing on Brad Pitt and Matt Damon, and it’s a great story.

If you’re a fan of Ocean’s Eleven and Ocean’s Twelve, you may remember Julia Roberts is in both movies playing Danny Ocean’s ex, Tess. She and George Clooney have some great exchanges; however, when the first movie came out back in 2001, Julia Roberts was at a peak in her career and making $20 million a movie. Even with Brad Pitt and Matt Damon signed on, it was unclear if she’d say yes, but George Clooney sweetened the pot a little with a bit of fun.

I remember Julia. I didn’t know her. I’d never met her and she was making $20 million dollars a film. And we just talked Brad [Pitt] into doing it and Matt [Damon] into doing it and we wanted Julia [Roberts] to do it. So, I put a $20 dollar bill on a script and I sent it to her. And I said, ‘I hear you get $20 a picture now.’

Speaking to GQ about some of the highlights of his varied and spectacular career, George Clooney also talked a little bit about how generous everyone was on the sets of those movies, noting also that Ocean’s 11 was the first time he worked with Julia Roberts, but also Matt Damon and Brad Pitt. In the time since, they've gone on to work on additional projects together, with Clooney and Roberts notably starring together again in Money Monster years later. He said about that:

She was spectacular to work with and is a dear friend, and those guys, I’ve done a lot of movies with Brad and Matt over the years because of that. But that was my first meeting of them. And the very first day we got together it just felt easy and fun.

Ultimately, it’s long been common knowledge that the cast of the Ocean’s franchise movies got along really well. George Clooney also recently told a story about some of the hijinks they got up to on set, which included a story about Brad Pitt convincing people when they were filming in Lake Cuomo that he was a bit of a diva. Ultimately, though, they may have given each other a little shit, but Clooney has fond memories of the three Ocean’s movies, also mentioning he feels like they worked because there was “no ego” involved.

Right now, if this behind-the-scenes story has you fondly remembering Clooney and co., you’re probably in luck. The Ocean’s trilogy -- Ocean’s Eleven, Ocean’s Twelve, and Ocean’s Thirteen are all currently streaming on Netflix. You can see what else is available on the streamer with our full schedule.

Jessica Rawden
Managing Editor

Jessica Rawden is Managing Editor at CinemaBlend. She’s been kicking out news stories since 2007 and joined the full-time staff in 2014. She oversees news content, hiring and training for the site, and her areas of expertise include theme parks, rom-coms, Hallmark (particularly Christmas movie season), reality TV, celebrity interviews and primetime. She loves a good animated movie. Jessica has a Masters in Library Science degree from Indiana University, and used to be found behind a reference desk most definitely not shushing people. She now uses those skills in researching and tracking down information in very different ways.