Every Con Needs A Pro
Cast: Anne Hathaway, Cate Blanchett, Rihanna, Sandra Bullock, Mindy Kaling, Matt Damon, Sarah Paulson, Dakota Fanning, Katie Holmes
Director: Gary Ross
Genre: Action, Crime
Running Time: 110 minutes
Synopsis: Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway, Mindy Kaling, Sarah Paulson, Awkwafina, Rihanna and Helena Bonham Carter team up in the action adventure Ocean's 8.
Five years, eight months, 12 days...and counting. That's how long Debbie Ocean (Sandra Bullock)"just released from prison"has been concocting the greatest heist of her storied career.
She knows what it's going to take"a team of the best in their field, starting with her former partner-in-crime Lou (Cate Blanchett). Together, they recruit a crew of specialists: jeweler Amita (Kaling); street con Constance (Awkwafina); expert fence Tammy (Paulson); hacker Nine Ball (Rihanna); and fashion designer Rose Weil (Bonham Carter).
The target is $150 million in diamonds"diamonds that will adorn the neck of worldfamous actress Daphne Kluger (Hathaway), who will be center stage at the event of the year, The Met Gala.
Their plan appears rock solid, but it will need to be flawless if the team is to get in and get away"all in plain sight.
Release Date: June 7th, 2018
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."
Sandra 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.
Gary 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 Soderbergh is a close friend and we've -unofficially' collaborated on a number of projects over the years," notes Gary Ross. 'If he hadn't been involved, I don't think I would have done it. It was great working together."
Steven Soderbergh says that he was excited about the concept, as well as Gary Ross's casting choice for the lead. 'Gary Ross 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 Jerry Weintraub who first reached out to Sandra Bullock. 'There wasn't even a script yet, but Jerry Weintraub'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," Gary 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 Ross understood how necessary it was to have a female voice involved in this process," says Olivia 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." Steven Soderbergh comments, 'I think Gary Ross and Olivia Milch 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 Weintraub at the helm as a producer," Steven Soderbergh states. 'Jerry Weintraub wasn't just a producer; he was a larger-than-life figure."
Jerry 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. Steven Soderbergh shares, 'Gary Ross 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.'"
Susan 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 Soderbergh and Gary Ross. 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 Sandra Bullock as the title eight are Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway, Mindy Kaling, Sarah Paulson, Awkwafina, Rihanna and Helena Bonham Carter.
Gary 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. Cate Blanchett confirms, 'When Gary Ross and Steven Soderbergh 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."
Anne 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 Gary 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 Ross welcomed our input," Anne 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 Ross brought a writer's sensibility to the whole process, and Olivia Milch was really fluid in responding," Cate 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. Gary 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, Steven Soderbergh says, 'Gary Ross 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."
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."
Sandra Bullock says that, like her brother, Danny, 'Debbie is the mastermind. She recognises 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 Gary Ross. 'But more than anything, she is a really good actress who brings a wealth of knowledge and experience with her."
Olivia 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," Sandra 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."
Steven Soderbergh remarks, 'There are simply no limits to what Cate Blanchett 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 Blanchett," adds Gary 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 maître 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 Ross 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 realise."
'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 Gary Ross. 'She is an amazing person, as well as a talented actress. We had a terrific time."
Anne Hathaway shares, 'Gary Ross 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," Helena 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 Bonham Carter is the queen," Sandra 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 Bonham Carter. She forced us to stay light on our feet."
In fact, Helena 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 Helena 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," Gary 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. Mindy Kaling affirms, 'The best thing for me about working with Gary Ross 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 Gary 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 Paulson, 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," Gary 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 Olivia Milch's directorial debut film, 'Dude." Gary Ross recalls, 'I saw Olivia Milch'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 pickpocketing 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. Sandra 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," Cate 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," Richard 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," James 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, James 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 realised 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."
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 realisation of the film's Toussaint, named in honor of Jeanne Toussaint, Cartier's Creative Director from 1933 to 1970. Susan Ekins comments, 'Jeanne Toussaint 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 mobilised 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," Anne 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."
The Big Apple
Principal photography on 'Ocean's 8" was accomplished entirely in New York, where Gary Ross and his cinematographer, Eigil Bryld, made the most of the city that never sleeps.
'If you're going to shoot a movie about New York City, you have to go to New York City," Sandra Bullock states. 'New York has an energy all its own; it ignites something in you and keeps you on your toes. All of us were very familiar with the city"I've lived there for a long time, so it's like an old friend, but it's still new and unexpected. And the city doesn't stop when you film a movie there. You just film around it."
The film's partnership with Cartier extended to one important filming location: the Cartier Mansion. For two days, the jeweler's flagship store on 52nd Street was closed to the public so it could be used for filming, including a pivotal scene in which Rose Weil and her 'assistant," Amita, insist on inspecting the priceless Toussaint. What made the store closure all-the-more remarkable was that it was in December, the height of the holiday buying season. Production designer Alex DiGerlando says, 'They gave us the keys to the kingdom. All the jewels you see in those scenes are the real thing. There are no movie props there."
In Brooklyn, the Bushwick United Methodist Church's annex was transformed into Lou's loft, which became the de facto headquarters for the team as they plan the heist. Dating from around 1900, the Romanesque Revival building features an open two-storied interior, with a balcony above and small alcoves on the second floor, which made it ideal. Alex DiGerlando clarifies, 'When we were conceiving of the loft, we needed something that was visually interesting, but also something that told a little bit about Lou's personality. She's very worldly, very hip, so we decorated it with items she collected during her years of travel."
A waterside warehouse in Brooklyn's Red Hook neighborhood was used for the exteriors of the loft, as well as the interior of Lou's nightclub. In the same borough, they filmed a scene at Junior's Deli, famous around the world for its cheesecake.
Back in Manhattan, the production's collaboration with Vogue encompassed a day of filming in the magazine's headquarters at the World Trade Center, where Tammy maneuvers her way into a temp job for The Met Gala.
Other filming sites in Manhattan, apart from The Met, included the Plaza Hotel; Christie's at Rockefeller Plaza; The Pierre Hotel; Casa Lever, a restaurant in the landmark Lever House on Park Avenue; Bergdorf Goodman's department store; and The New York Times' 52-story tower.
One of the movie's most recognizable locations was the iconic Eero Saarinen building at JFK that had once been the TWA Flight Center but is currently unoccupied. It became the setting for Rose Weil's hoped-for return to the forefront of fashion.
To stage Rose's runway show, the filmmakers called upon Alexandre de Betak, the renowned designer of inventive and memorable fashion shows. Prior to filming, de Betak took Gary Ross to three fashion shows. For the sequence, Vogue helped populate the first few rows with real-life regulars at New York Fashion Week.
Rose's new collection was actually created by costume designer Sarah Edwards, who designed 50 different looks in blues and grays, reminiscent of classic airline stewardess uniforms, echoing the mid-century style of the space. 'Gary Ross felt that if we did something that was in keeping with the time period of the building, it could be really beautiful but somewhat stilted from a fashion point of view," says Sarah Edwards. 'We wanted her show to be a miss more than a flop. We didn't want it to be hideous, just something that would not resonate with the modern customer."
In designing the day-to-day wardrobe for the title characters, Sarah Edwards says, 'We really took time to make sure the costumes suited their individual identities and got to the core of who each of them is in the film. With eight main leads, it was important to keep them all in their own lanes, so to speak, which was challenging but fun."
Sarah Edwards notes that the wardrobe for Sandra Bullock was designed to reflect 'a cool, polished character. Everything is very minimal"long, lean and simple. Debbie Ocean is someone who needs to be able to move through spaces and situations in a somewhat stealthy way, and keeping the colors dark and silhouettes simple and clean was a way to achieve that."
The designer goes on to say that Cate Blanchett's Lou, leaned more into patterns and colors. 'We wanted them to feel like things she had collected over time"a very deliberate mix of old and new and different textures with a little bit of animal print and leather thrown in. Lou is a very chic nightclub owner, and Cate Blanchett has got a really keen sense of personal style herself, so she really brought a lot to the table."
'Sarah Edwards is a genius," Cate Blanchett remarks. 'True creativity comes out under pressure, and man was she under pressure. She was really open to collaborating with all of us. Costume fittings with her were fast, furious and hilarious."
Another of the film's stars famous for her sense of style is Rihanna, who, as Nine Ball, wears a look that might be considered atypical for her: oversized denim overalls, big sweaters, and army boots.
By contrast, Sarah Edwards points out, 'Daphne Kluger is a Hollywood starlet, the toast of the town. Anne Hathaway wanted her to have a sort of modern-day Elizabeth Taylor quality with a little Barbie thrown in," she smiles.
The Met Gala is not just a party; it is an annual fundraiser for The Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute and coincides with the opening of their spring exhibition. Due to time and space constraints, the film's costume display could not actually be installed at The Met; instead it was assembled on a stage at Gold Coast Studios on Long Island.
DiGerlando and his team spent almost nine months designing and building the elaborate set for the movie's costume exhibition, titled 'The Scepter and the Orb: Five Centuries of Royal Dress." The name was chosen by Vogue's International Editor-at-Large Hamish Bowles, who has curated several notable fashion exhibitions over the years and was suggested by Anna Wintour to curate the one in 'Ocean's 8." Hamish Bowles offers, 'Rather than getting into the idea of doing period costume, we framed the exhibition around the idea of royal dress, and its enduring influence on fashion designers."
Hamish Bowles was able to persuade top fashion houses to open their archives to the production. Selections of treasured designer gowns were packed and shipped to the studio, where museum conservators carefully dressed them on specially sculpted mannequins. They were then mounted on the stage to Hamish Bowles' and DiGerlando's specifications.
In the Tudor-esque entryway, the influence of British royalty is echoed in fashions by Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen, and by Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli for Valentino. The court of Louis XIV of France is reflected in gowns by Dolce & Gabbana, Zac Posen, Jean Paul Gaultier, John Galliano for Christian Dior, Vivienne Westwood, Valentino, and Alexander McQueen.
All of the costumes are bedecked in a blinding array of crown jewels, that were actually handcrafted from scratch by property master Michael Jortner, working with a jeweler.
Apart from the regal sartorial splendor itself, perhaps the most striking feature of the set is the reflecting pool covering the entire space, with the costumes seeming to hover above it. Much of the water was real; however, the water directly under dresses was digitally added in post to ensure that the priceless fashions were not ruined by the humidity.
No detail was spared on the set. Even the identifying labels for the display, all written by Hamish Bowles and his team, contained accurate background information about each gown and its historical reference, although they would not be readable on screen. Nevertheless, Hamish Bowles confirms, 'Everything we did was absolutely as we would have done for a legitimate museum show."
The other sets constructed on the Gold Coast soundstage included a hallway leading to the museum's ladies room, and the bathroom itself. There was also an extension of The Met's Temple of Dendur in The Sackler Wing, with Egyptian sculptures made to approximate those at the actual museum. 'The stage was actually a network of sets," DiGerlando says. 'We built them to connect to one another, so we could flow from space to space."
All roads in 'Ocean's 8" lead to one pivotal event: The Met Gala, 'the intersection of fashion, art and celebrity"the height of New York sophistication and party culture and, arguably, the biggest night of the year," says Olivia Milch.
Even surrounded by celebrities bedecked in high fashion and glittering jewels, the dazzling Toussaint grabs the attention of everyone in attendance…especially Debbie Ocean and her crew. 'We were planning a jewelry heist but wanted to make it more interesting than stealing from a jewelry case or vault," Gary Ross relates. 'The backdrop of the Gala is so scintillating and electric, and we thought it would be great to take the audience there."
The cast and filmmakers on 'Ocean's 8" had the extraordinary privilege of shooting the Gala scenes within The Metropolitan Museum of Art. The filmmakers had considered shooting the ball on a soundstage. However, Gary Ross met with Metropolitan Museum President and CEO Daniel H. Weiss, and he allowed the production to film within the museum for two weeks, longer than any previous film.
Ekins says, 'The excitement of shooting in New York City is indescribable, and the city itself not only provided an intriguing backdrop but was also so welcoming. And having access to such an iconic landmark as The Met was a special honor for all of us."
Located on Fifth Avenue, on the edge of Central Park, The Met's Beaux-Arts façade spans four city blocks, making it the largest museum in the United States. It is also one of the busiest, so the only way to film at the museum was to work at night. As soon as the doors closed to the public, at 5:30 p.m., the production would move in. But they would have to be out every morning, a few hours before the museum reopened, to allow them time to prepare for the day's visitors.
The nature of the location also posed a uniquely daunting challenge to everyone involved in the production, as hundreds of cast, extras, and crew members"not to mention lights, cameras and other equipment"were surrounded by priceless and irreplaceable artworks. 'I called -safety' meetings for the art, as we would for a major stunt. I mean, literally, one false move and you've wrecked more than the budget of the movie," Gary Ross says, only half joking.
'So we had to be very, very careful. We had extensive meetings with The Met about what we were going to do, letting them know every single movement: how we would load in and out, where the cameras could be and where they couldn't... And we designed our shot list accordingly and stuck to the plan. We all remained vigilant the entire time we were there and got out without a calamity," he smiles.
Despite the restrictions, everyone appreciated the rare opportunity to view the museum's masterpieces over the long stretch of time. Sandra Bullock affirms, 'In-between shots, you could walk around and take in the museum in a way you'd never taken it in before"just stop and look at a piece of art, inspect it, and observe the brushstrokes. We had two weeks to just savor everything, so shooting at The Met was a gift on many levels."
Every year The Met Gala has a theme in keeping with the costume exhibition, which opens on the night the party. That theme is reflected in both the guests' attire and in the décor of the party. For 'Ocean's 8," the chosen theme was European royalty.
'We decided on Versailles as our regal setting," DiGerlando details. 'The Great Hall was conceived as one of the gardens of Versailles that you walk through and then you enter this grand palatial staircase."
DiGerlando's team installed topiaries and sculptures befitting a royal garden in the space where museum visitors first enter the building, complete with a formal garden folly to mask the information kiosk. In the museum's Temple of Dendur, where the Gala's dinner is held, the ancient Egyptian temple was surrounded by a wall projection of Versailles itself. On the wide staircase that leads from the Great Hall to the galleries on the second floor, background actors dressed as footmen stood guard. 'We came up with the idea of having fifty footmen line the staircase with candelabras, framing this beautiful hand-painted rug going up the stairs," describes DiGerlando. 'Their costumes became a major part of the set dressing."
Having A Ball
Fashion is the focal point of the Met Gala, and Sarah Edwards worked with some of the world's top designers to dress the film's eight leading ladies for the ball. First, she talked to each of the women about which fashion designers they felt would suit their character. For the actresses, however, the gowns were about more than just 'Who are you wearing?"
'It's about pushing the boundaries; it's about couture; it's about expressing yourself with fabric and construction in a way we can't do every day in real life," Sandra Bullock notes. 'And all of us ladies got to wear some pretty amazing dresses for the Gala.
'Alberta Ferretti designed my dress and the craftsmanship that went into it was fantastic," Sandra Bullock continues. 'I don't know if it was intentional, but my character's last name is Ocean, and when I looked down at the bottom of the dress and the train, there were starfish and shells and waves all embroidered in gold and silver on top of this sea of black. It's a work of art."
Helena Bonham Carter's gown also evoked her character's name. She explains, 'They paired me with Dolce & Gabbana, which was a happy marriage, not only for me but also for my character. I went to their studio and saw this dress in the corner"a sort of -50s, white frock with roses all over"and I said, -That's Rose.' And then, to make it even better, it was hand-painted to make the roses stand out dimensionally. I was like a moving rose garden."
Mindy Kaling felt a personal connection to Amita's dress, noting, 'My gown was designed by Naeem Khan, who I've been a fan of for years. He's Indian, which was especially meaningful for me." The gleaming creation was done in several shades of gold with all the sequins and jewels put on by hand. 'It was such a wish-fulfillment exercise as a woman who loves fashion."
Awkwafina had what Sarah Edwards calls 'a Cinderella moment" as Constance, in her gown by Jonathan Simkhai, and the actress agrees. 'It was so gorgeous, the prettiest thing I'll ever wear in my lifetime." However, she did have one problem with wearing 'high" fashion. 'It was hard for me to walk in heels, like I completely tipped over. So I had to practice how to walk in shoes that are not Uggs," she laughs.
Sarah Paulson's Tammy was decked out in a navy-blue velvet dress by Prada that Paulson says, 'was everything I could have hoped for. I've had the joy of attending The Met Gala before and it's an incredibly glamorous night. I think everyone"including the art department, wardrobe, hair and makeup"really captured that glamour. It was wonderful."
Instead of a traditional gown, Givenchy created a very distinctive look for Cate Blanchett as Lou. 'It was a fabulous emerald-beaded jumpsuit that was very rock and roll…almost Bowielike," Sarah Edwards affirms. 'I thought that was ideal for her character."
Rihanna, as Nine Ball, wore an exquisite gown designed by Zac Posen. 'The simple silhouette and the color were just perfect for her," says Sarah Edwards.
As the chosen belle of the Ball, Daphne Kluger is resplendent in a 'Rose Weil creation" that was, in reality, designed by Valentino"a hot pink gown with a matching 25-foot cape, which gave her a regal appearance, befitting the Gala theme. Anne Hathaway says, 'I have a long history with the house of Valentino, so I knew whatever they delivered would be incredible. And I love in old movies when you would see Grace Kelly's or Audrey Hepburn's wardrobe by a famous designer, so to know I was getting a moment like that felt really lovely."
There was one design element that was unique to Anne Hathaway's gown. Sarah Edwards clarifies, 'It was important that we left enough -real estate' for the necklace. So the dress was intentionally very simple"strapless with clean lines. And the color was absolutely spectacular with the diamonds. Everything was taken into consideration."
Sarah Edwards has tremendous appreciation for the designers, all of whom fast-tracked the creation of the gowns to meet the production schedule. 'We were asking them to make these dresses in an almost impossibly short timeframe," she attests. 'In films we're used to operating on a crazy schedule, but the couture houses are not. They all did an incredible job of getting those dresses made, delivered and fit, and I thank them all. It was a Herculean effort."
In addition, a number of design houses loaned the production hundreds more gowns and tuxedos to appropriately attire the extras in attendance at the ball. 'It took an army of people to get the guests for The Met Gala dressed, but we were fortunate to have a terrific team," Sarah Edwards states.
Steve Soderbergh remembers being impressed with the results. 'We had just finished a scene and were breaking to move to another part of the set, and I watched as our cast and about 300 extras filed past me. It seemed to go on forever, and every outfit was amazing."
When filming was completed, Gary Ross returned to Los Angeles to complete postproduction, collaborating closely with editor Juliet Welfling and composer Daniel Pemberton. Pemberton created a score that perfectly blends the film's different tones.
Ross reflects, 'It's an amalgam of things. It's funny, but not a straight comedy; it's a heist film, but not a drama. It's playful, it's joyful, but most of all, I think it's cool. And I think the audience will have a great time."
Release Date: June 7th, 2018
Review: Proving that Girls can get the job done, Oceans' all star cast of criminals seems pretty straight forward, but well done, I didn't see the double double cross coming at the end. Full of glamour and glitz, this film makes me want to go and buy jewellery, even if you don't ever wear it. Ocean's 8 - Queens.