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OCEAN'S 8

About The Production
In three and a half weeks, The Met will be hosting its annual ball...and we are going to rob it.

It's been more than 10 years since an Ocean-led crew has conned their way to millions of dollars. Now a new gang is banding together to carry out the ultimate heist. But this time, it's Debbie Ocean masterminding the plan, and she'll only require eight supremely skilled women to pull it off.

Director/screenwriter Gary Ross says, "The outlaw trope has always been at the heart of American movies, but with few exceptions, those 'outlaws' have been men. I was intrigued with the idea of a group of kickass women laying claim to this genre that had always seemed off limits. Plus, I love heist movies-always have."

Sandra Bullock offers, "This is a heist movie, and heist movies are always fun. How will they get away with whatever they are stealing and what antics will happen along the way? But what this movie is really about is these eight wonderfully complex, smart, funny women, who are going to take you on their own journey, and all the twists and turns that arise."

Bullock stars as Debbie Ocean, who has spent a little over five years devising an intricate plot to steal the Toussaint, Cartier's one-of-a-kind diamond necklace, valued at 150 million dollars. And she plans to do it in the midst of one of the most-watched events of the year: The Met Gala. Ross had originally conceived the idea for a new entry in the "Ocean's" franchise five years ago and brought it to the director of the "Ocean's" trilogy, Steven Soderbergh.

"Steven is a close friend and we've 'unofficially' collaborated on a number of projects over the years," notes Ross. "If he hadn't been involved, I don't think I would have done it. It was great working together."

Soderbergh says that he was excited about the concept, as well as Ross's casting choice for the lead. "Gary came to me and said, 'What about Sandy as Danny's sister?' I thought that was really interesting, so I said, 'Let's take it to Jerry [Weintraub].' And Jerry thought it was a terrific idea."

In fact, it was Weintraub who first reached out to Bullock. "There wasn't even a script yet, but Jerry's energy, his joy and his passion for this franchise were very infectious," the actress recalls.

Though he had not written with a collaborator since his first screenplay, "Big," Ross knew this was different. He reached out to co-screenwriter, Olivia Milch, to pen the script with him. "It ended up being a great partnership," he remarks.

"Gary understood how necessary it was to have a female voice involved in this process," says Milch, "and I was thrilled to be a part of it. Also, the breezy coolness of these characters- that back and forth patter-we kind of found that same thing side by side at the keyboard."

Soderbergh comments, "I think Gary and Olivia found that balance of having the film share the DNA of the 'Ocean's' franchise, and yet, at the same time, be its own unique thing." Sadly, legendary producer Jerry Weintraub passed away before he could see the movie come to fruition. "It was difficult to imagine an 'Ocean's' film without Jerry at the helm as a producer," Soderbergh states. "Jerry wasn't just a producer; he was a larger-than-life figure."

Weintraub's longtime collaborator Susan Ekins, who had served as an executive producer on the previous "Ocean's" films, came on board as a producer. Soderbergh shares, "Gary and I went to her and said, 'You were part of the brain trust of the first three, so we would love for you to take a more central role here.'"

Ekins was happy to return to the franchise that has been an important part of her life and career, spanning almost two decades. "From 'Ocean's Eleven,' in 2001, through 'Ocean's Twelve' and 'Ocean's Thirteen,' I had the pleasure of working with Jerry Weintraub and Steven Soderbergh, both brilliant filmmakers. And now I get to continue that legacy with Steven and Gary. I think what makes these films appealing to such a wide audience is the notion of getting away with something and having fun doing it."

In the tradition of the "Ocean's" films, each member of the team brings her own specialty to the table. Joining Bullock as the title eight are Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway, Mindy Kaling, Sarah Paulson, Awkwafina, Rihanna and Helena Bonham Carter.

Ross offers, "I wasn't just casting individual roles; I was putting together a band who all had to sound great together. It was exciting from the beginning."

The opportunity to work with one another became a major draw for the actresses. Blanchett confirms, "When Gary and Steven started talking about the cast they were assembling, that was the absolute 'why' for me. It really is an amazing group of women, and it was just great to play with them."

Hathaway says, "Making a movie is a certain kind of shared experience, but when it's you plus seven other women, there is so much more common ground to start with. That created an effortlessness in working together that made it so much fun."

"That spirit of collaboration extended throughout the entire production," says Ross. "On set, there was this alchemy taking place between these eight tremendously creative women. Sometimes I would just take a step back and watch it all happen."

"Some writers don't like you to improv, but Gary welcomed our input," Hathaway attests. "As a director, he wanted to make everyone feel like they were giving their best performance. I think he did a great job."

"Gary brought a writer's sensibility to the whole process, and Olivia Milch was really fluid in responding," Blanchett adds. "They were constantly shifting things up, which lent a lot of buoyancy on set. One thing this film has in common with the others is that there's always a twist inside the twist inside the twist. But he used that in a very witty way, so it subverts expectations."

Changing things up in a different way, "Ocean's 8" takes the action out of the Las Vegas casinos, moving it to New York and into the city's most coveted event, the Costume Institute Benefit at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, also known as The Met Gala. The filmmakers had unprecedented access to The Met, filming there for 10 days-longer than any other production. Ross says, "If we hadn't shot at The Met, I think it would have been almost impossible to do this. But the fact that we were able to get in there was a huge advantage."

Cartier was also an invaluable partner-creating a specifically modified version of the stunning Toussaint necklace, which plays an important role in the film as the objective of the entire scheme. "The Toussaint is one of the largest necklaces in their collection, sitting in their vault," says executive producer Diana Alvarez. "It was really important that it feel real...be real. The people at Cartier were incredible consultants and their expertise was a huge help to us. And they allowed us to shoot at the Cartier Mansion. To be able to go into their world and put it on screen was a big deal."

"Ocean's 8" was filmed entirely on location in New York, and, Soderbergh says, "Gary did a terrific job capturing the life of the city. I can't imagine a better place to set the film; if you could pick any city in the world to do the fourth 'Ocean's' film, I think this was the perfect call. And add in seeing these eight remarkable women, all in the same frame at the same time... Right out of the gate, it's exciting."

THE CAST

Debbie Ocean has had nothing but time on her hands for more than five years. And she's made good use of it. Sandra Bullock explains, "She's had a lot of time to think and to perfect her plan and comes out of jail ready to execute it."

Bullock says that, like her brother, Danny, "Debbie is the mastermind. She recognizes talent and knows how to put the best team together and then let them do their job. It's in her blood; she's a thief from a family of thieves. It's what she loves and it's what she's good at. For Debbie, it's the thrill of the steal and seeing if you can get away with it. This time, she intends to steal something in a very public place, surrounded by hundreds of people, being eyed by many cameras. It makes you wonder why of all things she'd want to do this when she just got out of prison. You're basically asking to get thrown back in jail."

"Sandy has an effortless cool about her," says Ross. "But more than anything, she is a really good actress who brings a wealth of knowledge and experience with her."

Milch agrees. "There is something so potent about her presence, a confidence that radiates from her. This is a person who is in control, and that was perfect for her character." The first person with whom Debbie connects is her old partner in crime, Lou. "Debbie has to coax Lou back into that world," Bullock relates. "She wastes no time, going right in with her plan, and has to somehow convince Lou that what she's come up with is good enough to risk the life that she has built while Debbie was incarcerated."

Cate Blanchett, who plays Lou, says, "Debbie needs a sure hand, someone she can rely on, and they've got a long history together. Lou's gone straight...or straight-ish...running a nightclub. She is doing okay, but it's not particularly exciting. I think that's why she decides to jump back in with Debbie-for the ridiculous, danger-filled adrenaline of it all. She's doing fine, but it's not exciting and she's not with her peeps."

Soderbergh remarks, "There are simply no limits to what Cate can do; she has a phenomenal range. She can say more with a glance than with an entire page of dialogue, which was ideal for Lou."

"There is no one quite like Cate," adds Ross. "You see her assemble a character, piece by piece, latching onto these details that catch her eye as she builds them into a whole person. It's a thrill to witness."

The target of their scheme is The Met Gala, but they won't be taking cash. Instead, they plan to steal the Toussaint: a unique diamond necklace so valuable it stays locked away in an impenetrable vault in the bowels of the Cartier mansion. The key is to convince Cartier to let it out of the vault. And the only way to do that is to put it around the neck of this year's designated Gala Chair: current "It girl," Daphne Kluger.

Cast in the role, Anne Hathaway reveals that she first heard about the film from an unusual source. "A maƮtre d' at a restaurant told me that Sandra Bullock was doing a new 'Ocean's' movie with a female cast, and I remember thinking, 'That sounds like the best job ever,' because I loved the earlier movies. And then Gary called me and said, 'I have a diva for you to play.'

"It was so much fun becoming someone who occupies a world I know so well, but hopefully isn't anything like me," she laughs. "Daphne is a bit wild and over-the-top...and she's a lot smarter than people realize."

"Annie embraced her role with so much force and gusto and delivered such a bold performance in terms of how far she was willing to go," says Ross. "She is an amazing person, as well as a talented actress. We had a terrific time."

Hathaway shares, "Gary and I have been wanting to work together for a long time and it was wonderful creating this character with him."

In order to get the necklace on Daphne, Debbie and Lou will need to recruit a known fashion designer and then manipulate the starlet into choosing said designer to create her Met ballgown.

Helena Bonham Carter takes on the role of Rose Weil. Once sought out by the rich and famous, Rose has recently fallen on hard times. When we meet her, "Rose is in total meltdown," Bonham Carter observes. "Her business has hit the skids and she owes millions. She desperately needs money and they need a fashion designer, so maybe they can benefit from one another."

The actress says that she was drawn to the script because "I always try to do things I haven't done, and I'd never done a heist movie. And I've never been in a film with eight women leads and it's about time. I think it's a bit of a benchmark in giving so many women parts that were traditionally male. That was a bonus, but I also thought it would be fun."

"Helena is the queen," Bullock states with pure admiration. "I have never met a more unique and sweet human being. And you never know where she's going to go in a scene; it could be written a certain way and then...there goes Helena. She forced us to stay light on our feet." In fact, Bonham Carter decided to give Rose an Irish accent even though, she acknowledges, "There's absolutely no reason why she is Irish, plot-wise. But I thought it would make her more 'away with the fairies,' as if I need any help with that," she smiles.

There was, however, one thing for which Bonham Carter did request help: appearing to know what to do with a needle and thread. She spent days in the costume department, taking sewing lessons and learning how to drape properly. "Even if Rose is no longer at the top of her game, she is actually a skilled designer," she explains, "so I wanted to look as if I could make a frock. That's the gift of doing what I do-you get to see the world through another person's eyes. As Rose, it was through a designer's eyes, which was a completely different experience for me."

For a scam involving jewelry, the team needs a jeweler, and Debbie knows just who to contact. Mindy Kaling plays Amita, who, she says, "lives with her mom but is right on the cusp of rebellion. She's had some experience doing illicit business with Debbie, so when she shows up, Amita thinks it's gonna be another low-level scheme...but it turns out to be much bigger. I think Amita is dying to be bad; she's been on good behavior her entire life and is eager to unleash her devilish side."

"I have been a fan of Mindy Kaling forever," Ross says. "If you've seen her show, you know what a consummate artist she is. She comes up with the littlest things that you don't even realize how brilliant they are until you get into the cutting room."

The admiration is mutual. Kaling affirms, "The best thing for me about working with Gary is that he has written some of my favorite movies of all time, like 'Big' and 'Dave' and 'Seabiscuit,' which, of course, he also directed. As a multi-hyphenate myself, I love that he is a writer-director. I always feel like a writer first, so the fact that he wrote this script and was bringing his vision to life was exciting to me."

Converting diamonds into cash requires an expert fence, so Debbie takes a trip to suburbia to track down another former compatriot, Tammy, who has ostensibly traded the black market for the supermarket. She looks for all the world like a typical wife and mom...unless you look in her garage, full of stolen merchandise.

Cast in the role, Sarah Paulson adds, "Tammy has mostly, but not entirely, gotten out of the game, and then along comes her old friend Debbie Ocean to pull her back in with the promise of their biggest score ever. I think there is something very thrilling to Tammy about being a mom but having this secret life. And she's super happy to be out of the house."

"Sarah Paulson's range is just stunning," remarks Ross. "Every take is different; every take is imaginative; every take has its own interpretation, so if you're not careful, you can mess up your day because you don't want to stop playing. My AD would be looking at me like, 'I know you're having fun with Sarah, but it's really time to move on,'" he laughs.

It is Lou who finds the last two members of the crew, beginning with "one of the best hackers on the east coast"-their only hope of cracking The Met's ultra-sophisticated security system. Global superstar Rihanna joins the cast as the dreadlocked computer whiz who goes by the moniker Nine Ball.

"I met Rihanna after a concert one night in Sweden and we began talking about the potential for this character-to lean into where she came from and make her authentically Bajan," Ross reveals. "We both got excited by that. I loved every minute with her on set. She is such an incredibly kind, lovely, enthusiastic, person and wonderful in the movie; she lights up the world around her. We just had a blast."

Lou takes Debbie to Queens, to see firsthand a young street hustler named Constance. A deft pickpocket whose hands are quicker than the eye, Constance is played by rising star Awkwafina, whose given name is Nora Lum.

The actress was already well-known to screenwriter Olivia Milch, having co-starred in Milch's directorial debut film, "Dude." Ross recalls, "I saw Olivia's movie and thought Awkwafina was extraordinary. I instantly knew I wanted her for 'Ocean's 8,' and she's fantastic in the movie."

Awkwafina notes, "They find Constance in Elmhurst, a neighborhood close to where I grew up. She's playing three-card Monte, which is a typical New York scam. She is New York to the bone and I am, too. That's one reason I feel a connection to her-I am Constance...you know, minus all the pick-pocketing and stealing. But she's definitely true to me."

To prep for the role, she says, "I learned some sleight-of-hand magic, which was awesome. But working with these amazing actresses that I've worshipped was the coolest experience. I feel extremely blessed."

Her sentiment was shared by her castmates. Bullock attests, "There were eight of us and not one of us was like the others. But the fact that we were so diverse wasn't a problem because we shared a common goal to support one another and make sure we all had what we needed. I really appreciated that camaraderie."

"It's hard to pinpoint," Blanchett adds. "There were a lot of laughs. It's great to be in a room with women who are able to laugh at themselves."

The main cast of "Ocean's 8" also includes two notable actors, each playing a foil for the women in different ways.

Richard Armitage joins the cast as Claude Becker, an art gallery curator who becomes an unwitting player in the game. In truth, "Debbie and Claude have some history between them," Armitage discloses. "So when she shows up in his gallery it's a shock, as if the floor opens up beneath him. Debbie is a blast from the past, a part of his life that didn't end well. But she still takes his breath away...like a punch to the gut."

James Corden plays insurance investigator John Frazier, who is all too familiar with the name Ocean. "He has a history with the whole Ocean family, with them being a sort of constant thorn in his side," Corden says. "He knows this priceless necklace was targeted at an event where Debbie was present and immediately puts two and two together. But then it's a question of coming up with the right number. Ultimately, he's not a cop; he's not really interested in any possible crime. He just cares whether his company will have to pay out the money."

Asked how he came to be in the movie, Corden responds with trademark humor. "Well, the studio called and said they were making this film and were worried that it didn't have any star power in it. They needed a big name... No, I'm a huge fan of the 'Ocean's' movies. When I read it and realized who the director was, I thought it would be a lovely thing to be a part of. I was just happy to be in the orbit of actresses for whom I have so much admiration and respect."

TARGET: TOUSSAINT

The object of the heist in "Ocean's 8" is the Toussaint, created by Cartier, so the filmmakers went directly to the world-renowned Paris-based jeweler to create a magnificent necklace worthy of the five-plus years that Debbie Ocean spent planning to steal it. Cartier immediately agreed.

For generations, Cartier has created some of the world's most elegant and sought-after jewels. It also has a long history in cinema, including such iconic films as "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes," "Some Like It Hot," "Sunset Boulevard" and "High Society."

Pierre Rainero, Cartier's Image, Style, and Heritage Director, shares that the filmmakers' requirements for the story's diamond necklace were twofold. "It had to be a necklace of importance, in terms of carats, and have a historic touch. We immediately thought of one of the most significant diamond necklaces in our history."

The original was designed in 1931 by Jacques Cartier for the Maharaja of Nawanagar, described as "the finest cascade of colored diamonds in the world." The jewels no longer exist; however, Cartier preserved in its archives a design sketch and photographs of the piece. The sketch was used as the primary reference for the realization of the film's Toussaint, named in honor of Jeanne Toussaint, Cartier's Creative Director from 1933 to 1970. Susan Ekins comments, "Jeanne dramatically impacted jewelry designs during those decades. Clearly, she was a strong and respected woman, and I think the Toussaint necklace in 'Ocean's 8' is a fitting tribute to her."

Rather than create an exact copy, Cartier used the art deco masterpiece as an inspiration. For this very special order, Cartier mobilized the resources of its High Jewelry workshops situated on rue de la Paix in Paris. The best jewelers were required to accomplish this feat on an accelerated timeline to fit the movie's production schedule. "Normally, for a special order of such importance, the minimum would be eight months," Rainero asserts. "We actually made this necklace in eight weeks."

For the film-in which the Toussaint is comprised of flawless, colorless diamonds-the jewelers used zirconium oxides, mounted in white gold. Meticulous attention was paid to the finishing of the settings, as close-ups-and Cartier's exacting standards-would not allow for any imperfection. Even as a re-creation, the Toussaint meets the Cartier High Jewelry requirements in terms of craftsmanship and excellence.

In order to be worn by Anne Hathaway, as Daphne Kluger, the necklace was reduced by approximately 20%, as the original had been crafted for a man. When the actress put it on for the first time in New York, the Toussaint fit her perfectly. "They did a beautiful job," Hathaway says. "I honestly didn't fully appreciate how special the necklace was until I saw a shot of me walking up the stairs and caught the way it sparkled. I suddenly understood that it was a very big deal, which is the magic of movies."

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