George Clooney Recalls Ocean’s Twelve Hijinks, Including Leaving Brad Pitt And Don Cheadle In A Haunted House

It’s been 20 years since Steven Soderbergh assembled the all-star Ocean’s Eleven cast, many of whom have only soared higher on the Hollywood A-list since making the trilogy together, with some scoring their very own Oscars since. George Clooney has a reputation of being a prankster on the set of his films, and apparently one of them involved his famous co-stars and a haunted house.

While reflecting on his career, George Clooney spent some time reminiscing about his time with the cast of the Ocean films. While speaking to GQ, the Midnight Sky director and star talked about how he and actors like Brad Pitt and Matt Damon got along with one another from day one, and have continued to maintain their relationships and work with each other for that reason. The 59-year-old started breaking down his hilarious Ocean’s Twelve story with this:

We would do hysterical, idiotic things, like there was a house--we were all staying at my house in Lake Como -- and there was a house across the lake, empty. And we made up a story about how haunted it was. And my buddy Giovanni, who was Italian, he’s pretending to read this story where this guy would kill people and, you know, throw them into the lake. He talked everyone into how dangerous this house was.

Ocean’s Twelve was partially filmed in George Clooney's villa property in Lake Como. He and the cast stayed there together during filming in 2004 and started getting into ghost stories, because of course. It totally spooked the rest of the cast, but it also inspired them to go and check out said haunted house. Clooney continued:

So, at like 3 a.m. in the morning we get a ladder and put it on this pontoon boat and Matt [Damon] and Don [Cheadle] and Brad [Pitt] and I took the boat across the water. We took the ladder up and climbed in the house. The first thing we saw was like a statue of a snake eating a woman’s head, you’re like ‘aaaah.’ So, we came down to the conclusion that we’d give $10,000 to any guy who could spend the night in the house with a candle, you got six matches and a bottle of wine.

This honestly sounds like a great plot to a buddy comedy if Matt Damon, Don Cheadle and Brad Pitt ever wanted to do something more lighthearted. The actors who were 15 years younger at the time decided to try out a wager and see if they could stay the night in an abandoned house across the lake. Here’s what happened next, according to George Clooney:

We left Cheadle and Pitt there and Matt and I came back. We’re sitting in the boat in the middle of the lake. We have to see the candle go by every window. It goes by 2 or 3 windows and then we get a call. They’re like, ‘Fuck that, get us out of this house!’ We came back and pulled them out. So there was a lot of idiocy along the way.

What a story! It sounds like it was a fun shoot and the actors had a great time with each other, especially when it came to taking part in pranks and haunted house hijinks. If Brad Pitt and Don Cheadle chickened out of $10,000, it must have been a really creepy atmosphere in that abandoned house. This might have been how George Clooney got back at Pitt for sending out memos in Lake Como suggesting that he would only accept being addressed as his character name. Aside from being great fun, the Ocean's films were, of course, great successes, though it doesn’t sound like it's high on Pitt's list to make more.

You can check out George Clooney’s latest film, The Midnight Sky, on Netflix now.

Sarah El-Mahmoud
Staff Writer

Sarah El-Mahmoud has been with CinemaBlend since 2018 after graduating from Cal State Fullerton with a degree in Journalism. In college, she was the Managing Editor of the award-winning college paper, The Daily Titan, where she specialized in writing/editing long-form features, profiles and arts & entertainment coverage, including her first run-in with movie reporting, with a phone interview with Guillermo del Toro for Best Picture winner, The Shape of Water. Now she's into covering YA television and movies, and plenty of horror. Word webslinger. All her writing should be read in Sarah Connor’s Terminator 2 voice over.