Who Could Possibly Star With Sandra Bullock in an "Ocean’s Eleven" Remake: A Fantasy Casting
By Joe Reid
The all-female "Ghostbusters" remake hasn't even made it to theaters yet and already Hollywood appears ready to capitalize on more gender-swapped franchising.
News broke this week that there's an "Ocean's Eleven" remake starring Sandra Bullock in the role that George Clooney played in the 2001 version in development. Clooney and Steven Soderbergh (who directed the 2001 film and its two sequels) will produce, with Gary Ross ("Pleasantville," "Seabiscuit") directing.
Thus far, Bullock is the only cast member attached, and while that’s enough to get excited about right now, the beauty of a movie like "Ocean's Eleven" — and why the 2001 version was such a successful remake itself — is that it's basically a playground for huge, starry cast. The 2001 film starred not only Clooney but Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Julia Roberts, Andy Garcia, and many more. The fun part is going to be casting the roles around Bullock.
And why shouldn't we get in on the totally speculative and imaginary fun right now?
ROLE: Rusty Ryan (Brad Pitt)
PROPOSED ACTRESS: Regina King
We've seen a lot of A-list names floated around to play Bullock's right-hand woman. Angelina Jolie is a popular choice, though doesn’t it feel a little lazy to swap out Pitt for his real-life wife? Besides, it wasn’t Pitt’s star power that made him so perfect in "Ocean's Eleven." It was his screen chemistry with Clooney. And who better to spark with Sandra Bullock than her "Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous" co-star? We'd also consider Melissa McCarthy, given how amazing she and Bullock were together in "The Heat," but let’s try not to overlap with the "Ghostbusters" cast. There are plenty of roles to go around, with plenty of worthy actresses, and a little diversity at the top of the cast wouldn’t kill Hollywood either.
ROLE: Linus Caldwell (Matt Damon)
PROPOSED ACTRESS: Emily Blunt
Here's where you might say that Gary Ross' "Hunger Games" star Jennifer Lawrence might fit best. For one thing, her relative youth would actually fit the role pretty nicely. But wouldn't casting Jennifer Lawrence in a third-billed role automatically make this a Jennifer Lawrence movie? Emily Blunt is around the same age Damon was when he filmed "Ocean's Eleven," she's great with comedy ("The Devil Wears Prada," hello), and who can't appreciate the symmetry of one "Adjustment Bureau" cast member handing this role off to another?
ROLE: Basher Tarr (Don Cheadle)
PROPOSED ACTRESS: Minnie Driver
Cheadle affected a truly ridiculous cockney accent in the original. Driver's own accent isn't quite so crass, but as we saw in roles on "Will & Grace" and in "Beyond the Lights," she really delivers when called upon to play women on the come-up.
ROLE: Frank Catton (Bernie Mac)
PROPOSED ACTRESS: Taraji P. Henson
Now that "Empire" has made her a household name, Taraji can really start capitalizing with some big-screen roles. Bernie Mac was the original cast member most willing to go big, and there's currently no actress going bigger than the woman behind Cookie Lyon. Bonus: her IRL friendship with Regina King (again: watch those Emmys) would contribute to the kind of fun, friendly set that you need to have for a project like this.
ROLES: Turk and Virgil Malloy (Scott Caan and Casey Affleck)
PROPOSED ACTRESSES: Alia Shawkat and Mae Whitman
Honestly, the suggestion we've seen elsewhere for Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer from "Broad City" to play these roles is a pretty, pretty good one. But allow us to propose an alternate pair of actresses who will forever be bonded by a cult TV comedy. That's right, it's time for Maeby and Ann from "Arrested Development" to finally team up on the big screen.
ROLE: Saul Bloom (Carl Reiner)
PROPOSED ACTRESS: Lily Tomlin
This role is an underrated lynchpin of the film. They've gotta nail this one. Saul's addled-old-man put-on requires an actress who can play dotty but is really incredibly savvy underneath. Is this not an absolutely perfect role for late-in-life Lily Tomlin?
ROLE: Reuben Tishkoff (Elliott Gould)
PROPOSED ACTRESS: Goldie Hawn
We've seen calls for Jane Fonda (the "Grace and Frankie" connection with Tomlin) or Barbra Streisand (the Elliott Gould connection) in the role. Both fine choices. But think about what you'd be getting in Goldie Hawn: not just an actress who connects the film to 1970s swinging Hollywood. Not just the aura of sisters-doing-it-for-themselves scheming she brought to "The First Wives Club." This would be her big comeback role, after she retired after 2002's "The Banger Sisters." Who doesn't want to get back in the Goldie Hawn business?
ROLE: Livingston Dell (Eddie Jemison)
PROPOSED ACTRESS: Constance Wu
We had Judy Greer slotted in this role for a while, and she would be pretty great. But the more we see of Wu on ABC's "Fresh Off the Boat," the more she seems like an ascendant comic talent, and maybe this buzzy movie will be able to not just celebrate established actresses but launch a new star in the process.
ROLE: Yen (Shaobo Qin)
PROPOSED ACTRESS: Julia Goldani Telles
Yen was an acrobat in the 2001 film. Flexible enough to fit into the enclosed spaces necessary to pull off the heist. This sounds like the job for a dancer. And where were there better dancers on TV lately than on "Bunheads"? (The answer is: nowhere.) Telles is currently tearing it up on Showtime's "The Affair."
ROLE: Terry Benedict (Andy Garcia)
PROPOSED ACTRESS: Reese Witherspoon
We're sacrificing a bit of star power in some of the above roles in order to get the right women for the role (and to stay under budget; yes, even fantasy-cast movies have budgets). Time to dip back into the A-List for the role of the film's chief antagonist. Haven’t we been waiting long enough for Witherspoon to dig into a juicy villain role like this? She's a boss in business, and Sandy's looking to take her down. Bullock v. Witherspoon: 2017.
ROLE: Tess Ocean (Julia Roberts)
PROPOSED ACTOR: Jude Law
The possibilities for Bullock's love interest are endless. Do you go for the massive star power of a Robert Downey Jr.? (No; he'd take up all the oxygen.) The proven chemistry of a Hugh Grant? (A "Two Weeks Notice" reunion sounds nice, but he and Reese as a couple seems off.) The symmetry of a George Clooney? (Cute idea, but a little neat, don't you think?) The great thing about Jude Law is that he's wildly handsome, he's recently proved he can deliver in an ensemble comedy like "Spy," and he's plausible as a long-suffering ex-husband.
Hollywood, you have your instructions. Get on this.
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