Cinema goers in Australia this weekend are spoilt for choose when it comes to big blockbusters. On one hand you have dinosaurs meet Chris Pratt with Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom and on the other very jewelled hand you have the latest instalment in the Oceans franchise with Ocean’s Eight.
While the feel of the old Oceans series is still there things are very different this time around. Director Steven Soderbergh has been replaced with Oscar nominated director/writer Gary Ross while the cast is now the star-studded line-up of Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway, Rihanna and Helena Bonham Carter.
For a lot of the cast this is an absolute dream role and this is something that Bullock says she has wanted for a long, long time. “I saw the originals in the ‘50s and then I saw the new original – the George, Brad and Matt version – and i loved the style and I loved the vibe,” she says the excitement all over her face. “It was a fantasy but it had very real moments so everything was very believable even though it was implausible, they had you believe it because they were so committed to having you in that world. IT just reminded you of how movies used to be made and it was about the costumes and the sparkle and the glitz, the sexiness of it all. It was about an ice cube in a drink, and things like that I don’t think we have as much so it is needed, a little bit of that fantasy is needed and they gave it to us.”
Here Bullock plays Debbie Ocean the now deceased Danny Ocean’s very determined sister and she says it didn’t take much convincing for her to do the role. “What made me want to me part of the project was that hopefully it would be an assembly of eight really fun women to be around, and we all had our moment and our time while working together,” she says thinking. “That was the fantasy and that came together and the role of Debbie is very much in the vein of George’s role… George… George Clooney… in that she is the mastermind. She is not the one that has all the talent but she has some talent and she puts it all together and lets each person do their job, it’s just in her blood – she’s a thief, like her family they are all thieves. She comes from a family of thieves and it is what she is good at and it is what she is passionate about. So very much like George, her job is to just assemble the best and let them do some stealing.”
The plot this time also sees a very different target for the thieves at hand. Gone are casinos and cash. This time it is a starlet, the New York elite and jewels. “Deb and Lou have set their sights on money but what they are stealing is not money,” expains Bullock. “it’s not so much what they are stealing but it is the thrill of the steal and see if they can steal it, they plan on stealing something that is very much in a public place, they will be surrounded by hundreds of people, they will be eyed by many cameras, the item is sitting on the beautiful bosom of a public figure and it’s in the Metropolitan Museum of Art during the MET Ball. So it makes you wonder why of all things that is the thing you want to steal when you get out of prison…. you are basically getting asked to get thrown back into jail.”
The one thing that has changed in the franchise though is the ensemble of both characters and cast that are brought together to pull off the heist and the movie. And it is easy to see the Bullock was very impressed with what got put together this time around “The first person they get is Rose, who is a fashion designer whose fashions aren’t up with the times and she has a lot of investors and an incredible amount of debt and they have sort of pin-pointed her as the person who they think would be the person most likely to be swayed into this criminal world because she is desperate enough. Then there is Constance who is a brilliant pick-pocket, apparently there is a big turn over in pick-pockets so we had to go with some fresh new talent. Then we have a great jeweller , Mindy Kaling, who is very familiar with the world of jewellery, cutting jewels, dis-assembling them, re-assembling them. Then there is the fabulous, untethered Tammy who is an old friend of mine and Cate’s character, and she is a house-wife now and is very happy with her family in the suburbs, but you soon find out that she hasn’t exactly stepped completely away from the criminal world. Then there is Rihanna who is our computer mastermind who helps us hack into all the systems that we need to hack into. Every actor that we had on set just has their own unique gift and abilities and talent. You know… take Cate, you know the thing that I wanted people to see from Cate is how she is funny. Cate has this innate cool that we all wish we had but just don’t. And then there was Anne, Anne conjured up Barbie… Anne was Barbie. She committed to Barbie and I don’t think we have met Anne yet, I think we had Barbie on set the entire time. She committed to this character, Daphne Kluger, and it was so much fun to watch because she would walk into the room and have these mannerisms and do these things and we were literally like – is that Anne or the Barbie talking?”
With a film of this scale it almost seems strange but aside from the cast of A-listers the film’s locations also become a very big part of the heist and story at hand. “New York is like an actor on its own,” agrees Bullock. “New York is a character – it is an energy that you can’t derbies. I always tell people that once you drive over the bridge and see the skyline there is a part of you that gets turned on. Whether you have been there or not, it is an energy and it is a battery, it ignites something in you – the unexpected keeps you on your toes, you have to navigate around things – the city doesn’t stop for you, when you film a movie you film around it. There is a fashion, there is an energy, there is a way of thinking and there is a way of navigating that just doesn’t exist anywhere else. I was shocked at how much access the MET gave us, it was beautiful because it was quiet and in between shots you could walk around and take in the museum in ways that you could never have taken it in before. We had two and half weeks to just savour and that was pretty amazing and then the night that we shot the big MET Ball with all the celebrities it felt crazy. I was just sitting in the corner watching it all and thinking that movie making is so amazing sometimes. And that was a piece of movie making that I had never experienced before.”
Bullock says the one thing that she hopes the audience realise is that Ocean’s Eight is not just a heist movie. “This is a heist movie and heist movies are always fun, you always think well how they are going to get what they are stealing, what antics will happen along the way but to me more importantly this is about the friendships that are formed along the way. They become like a family, they are a family of thieves, but they are a family.”
Ocean’s Eight is in cinemas now.