Ocean's Twelve Could Have Starred Paul Newman And Robert Redford

The farther away we get from it, the more "Ocean's Twelve" looks like somewhat of a miracle to me. Steven Soderbergh, high off the success of winning Best Director for "Traffic" and the box office smash that was "Ocean's Eleven," had the ability to flex his power by taking a sequel that took a dramatic left turn away from the appeal of that first movie. Every sequel Hollywood cranks out is so much of "the first movie but more," but Soderbergh completely shakes up the style. Naturally, most people weren't into it, but those of us who were couldn't have been more thrilled.

Because the film is such a departure, the place they arrived at was obviously not the first instinct of the filmmakers when discussing a sequel. In fact, the screenwriter for "Ocean's Eleven," Ted Griffin, did not even come along for the sequel. However, that did not mean he had no ideas for what to do with "Ocean's Twelve." As it turns out, he had one big idea that would have introduced the fathers of George Clooney's Danny Ocean and Brad Pitt's Rusty Ryan, who would have been played by a pair of stars that led one of the most beloved con artist films of all time: "The Sting." Of course, we're talking about Paul Newman and Robert Redford.

'Those guys obviously could easily be fathers to Clooney and Pitt'

In the early days of the development of "Ocean's Twelve," before screenwriter George Nolfi came on board to write it, Ted Griffin was thinking about where the Ocean gang could go from here, and he seemed to be still in the mindset of the feel of that first movie. On the Script Apart podcast, he looked back at his early ideas for the sequel and remembered the notion of making this the third collaboration with Paul Newman and Robert Redford:

"It was actually more of an idea for a trailer, which was, you had George and Brad having an espresso in some square in Europe and having a conversation similar to the one they have at Musso and Frank's, like, 'What, you think we need one more?' and Brad puts up two fingers. 'Two more.' George says, 'Who do you have in mind?' And Brad points, and you see, crossing the square towards them, Paul Newman and Robert Redford."

While fun in theory, I wonder if this Hollywood callback would've been a little too cutesy. Griffin admits, "Pitt is sort of, in a way, a copy of Redford [in terms of] his star persona," and Clooney would even go on to voice Newman in last year's "The Last Movie Stars." The matches are uncanny, but putting a fine point on it might have been too self-congratulatory. As for why it didn't happen, Griffin says that "[S]omeone involved in the movie had a very bad relationship with one of those two men, and told me, 'Nah, it's not going to work out.'"

"Ocean's Twelve" ended up having a far more inventive and funny meta storytelling element: Julia Roberts' Tess pretending to be Julia Roberts. Delights me every single time.