George Clooney Says Mark Wahlberg, Johnny Depp Turned Down ‘Ocean’s Eleven’: “They Regret It Now”

The star-studded Ocean’s Eleven cast could’ve looked a little different.

George Clooney recently confirmed reports that both Mark Wahlberg and Johnny Depp were approached to play Linus in the first installment of Steven Soderbergh’s now-iconic franchise. The role eventually went to Matt Damon.

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The film’s A-list cast also included Brad Pitt, Julia Roberts, Andy Garcia and Don Cheadle, among others, with producer Jerry Weintraub and a great script to help them assemble their team. Nonetheless, they ran into some roadblocks.

“Steven had just done Erin Brockovich and Traffic, and he was nominated for directing both films,” Clooney said during an Ocean’s Eleven panel at the 2023 TCM Film Festival. “So, people really wanted to work with Steven.”

“That said, some people did say no to us,” Soderbergh chimed in. “They did,” Clooney replied. “Some very famous people told us to fuck right off. Mark Wahlberg, Johnny Depp. There were others. They regret it now. I regret doing fucking Batman.”

While multiple actors turned down roles in the film, getting Roberts to sign on at the time was a major get for the project. Clooney recalled how he convinced the actress to star alongside him in Ocean’s.

“We sent Julia a script, and I wrote a note saying, ‘I hear you get $20 [million] a picture now,’” he remembered. “And we sent her a $20 bill.… It made her laugh, and yes, she jumped right on board.”

The film’s success led to two sequels Ocean’s Twelve (2004) and Ocean’s Thirteen (2007) with the original cast, as well as female spinoff Ocean’s 8 (2018), which starred Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway, Rihanna, Helena Bonham Carter, Mindy Kaling, Sarah Paulson and Awkwafina.

prequel is in active development at Warner Bros. from Jay Roach, with Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling in talks to star. Plot details are being kept under wraps, but it’s known to be an original Ocean’s Eleven story that is set in Europe in the 1960s.