Cape Town – 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 (Sandra Bullock) masterminding the plan, and she’ll only require eight supremely skilled women to pull it off.
Joining Bullock as the title eight are Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway, Mindy Kaling, Sarah Paulson, Awkwafina, Rihanna and Helena Bonham Carter.
Paulson who plays Tammy a former black market traded who has traded the black market for the supermarket. She looks for all the world like a typical wife and mother unless you look in her garage, full of stolen merchandise.
Sarah sat down for a Q&A about her role in the film, the dynamic between the cast and what it was like to film at The Met Gala.
What drew you to Ocean’s 8?
One day, [screenwriter / actor] Danny Strong, who wrote Game Change and was good friends with [Ocean’s 8 director/co-screenwriter] Gary Ross, texted me, asking if he could give Gary my phone number. Gary called me about two minutes later, and then within a few days, he sent the Ocean’s 8 script to me. Gary then asked if I wanted to be a part of it – as if I could say no!
Were you familiar with the three previous Ocean’s films directed by Steven Soderbergh?
Yes, I had seen every one of them – and I had also seen the original 1960 Ocean’s 11 starring Frank Sinatra. I found them all to be endlessly entertaining and incredibly fun. It just seemed like the actors were all having the best time, and so we as an audience were having the best time. I thought if Ocean’s 8 had that kind of magic, we would be in good shape.
Did you work with Gary Ross and co-screenwriter Olivia Milch to shape the character of Tammy, or was it already on the page for you?
What Gary and Olivia did with Tammy was really interesting. Tammy has children and other responsibilities. She was once heavily into this game, and then opted out to raise a family. But when Sandy Bullock as Debbie Ocean approaches Tammy and asks if she’d like back in, the adrenaline rush is just too exciting for Tammy to pass up.
What skill set does Tammy bring to the team?
She’s the fence – a go-between for stolen goods. Tammy is running a small side business in her garage, which her family doesn’t know about. It’s her way of keeping a toe in a world that she found incredibly thrilling, exciting and dangerous. And when Debbie whispers in her ear the amount of money she’d be netting after the heist, it’s just too good an offer to refuse.
Did you do any preparation to develop a fluency with that line of work?
I read a few books about being a fence. But this isn’t the kind of deep, dark psychological thriller where I’d have to immerse myself in the underbelly of fencing and the world of white collar crime. I enjoyed myself with my castmates and let the script dictate how this should go.
Did you know any of your castmates before beginning work on Ocean’s 8?
I did a movie, Carol, with Cate Blanchett, and I knew Annie [Hathaway] socially; we both grew up New York and we’d see each other socially and at auditions. I didn’t know the others, but I made seven new friends, which was exciting.
What was the dynamic like once you all did come together on set?
More than one person has asked me if we had any fights, which was shocking to me because I thought, why would that be the first thing people would assume would happen if you put eight women in a room together? Some people were taking bets on who would be the last person out of the trailer and how long everyone was going to take to arrive on set. Actually, we were always ready while they were still lighting on set. We also had a great time in the morning, getting ready together. It was like a real party, but a party with substantive people with great senses of humour. It was like being at the greatest dinner gathering of all time.
The film features an epic recreation of the Met Gala. What was that like?
Filming in The Met was incredible because in-between set ups, you’re just going, “Oh, look at that artifact from…” Certain parts of the museum were cordoned off. We couldn’t go everywhere. But we did find ourselves in places we probably shouldn’t have been in.
Since the filmmakers were recreating the Met Ball, they had recruited celebrities, including the Kardashians, Katie Holmes, Zach Posen and several celebrated designers, to help authenticate the look of the evening. There was a glamorous green room/bar, where these notables could relax between camera set-ups. Meanwhile, we actors were in a dusty green room, which seemed like it hadn’t been vacuumed in a long time. And we were hungry because you’re not allowed to bring food into The Met. Then, a friend of Awkwafina, who was upstairs cooking, sent her a text, asking if we wanted some food. And we were, like, “Food!?” Awkwafina and I went up to that special green room, and we couldn’t believe it: people were getting fancy whiskey bottles engraved – and, yes, there was food! We were all saying, “Now, wait a second. How come we didn’t know this was here? We’ve spent six hours downstairs in this tiny room, all of us together, not even having a carrot stick, because we didn’t think we could bring any food into the museum (laughs).”
Was it surreal to be at The Met in couture, and did you work closely with costume Sarah Edwards in pulling together Tammy’s wardrobe?
Every single dress we’re wearing during the heist scenes were designed especially for the movie and specifically for us. I got to wear the most extraordinary Prada dress that doesn’t exist anywhere else in the world. That’s pretty extraordinary. Sarah and I reviewed several design sketches Prada had in mind, and we picked our favourite, which best suited the Gala’s theme.
As the women plan and execute this incredibly ambitious heist, how does their dynamic evolve?
Debbie knows all of them but the rest are strangers to one another. They have a bit of trepidation, wondering how they’re all going to work together. But it becomes clear, very quickly, that each woman is the best in her field, and all they want to do is pull off this heist. Everyone has the same goal. They become an extraordinary team, and the heist would have been a disaster without each of their contributions. There’s an enormous sense of camaraderie and gratitude, mixed with surprise, that they did this together.
What do you think it is about ambitious heist stories that draws us in and makes us root for the people behind it?
I think Ocean’s 8 is a fantasy. Sometimes you just really need an opportunity to kick back and let yourself be taken on this journey, which makes you forget about your troubles for a while and immerses you in another world where people are having a good time and doing something a little bit dangerous and a little bit naughty, but with a great deal of humour and heart. That’s the extraordinary thing about having a movie-going experience like this: you can transport yourself somewhere glamorous and fun, and watch a bunch of people work well together.