DiCaprio ditch irks De Niro
ROBERT De Niro — who gave Leonardo DiCaprio his first starring role, in "This Boy's Life" (1993) — is disappointed that DiCaprio has ditched him in favor of Martin Scorsese. De Niro had been talking to DiCaprio for a year about starring in "The Good Shepherd," a history of the CIA told through the eyes of one of the spy agency's founders, James Wilson. But DiCaprio dropped the De Niro movie to star in "The Departed," a gangster drama set in Boston, based on a trilogy of Chinese-language films about Hong Kong police and the triads that run the rackets there. Scorsese directed DiCaprio in "Gangs of New York" and the upcoming "The Aviator," for which he's already being touted for an Oscar. Matt Damon, who has a smaller role in "The Departed," has replaced DiCaprio as the star of "The Good Shepherd." An insider told PAGE SIX, "Matt is perfect for the role, but this is a project Bob has been working on for eight years. He was disappointed." De Niro was also said to be angry at DiCaprio's manager, Rick Yorn, for switching the actor into the higher-paying role. But the insider said, "Rick has always had the best interests of the movie at heart."
All that Pitt, 41, would say about any immediate plans for himself and Aniston is he's "going to dabble in producing for a while. "I'm producing Matt Damon's next The Departed, and Jenn and I are putting together a movie for her."
The Departed is based on a trilogy of about a Hong Kong police officer's battles with a charismatic gang leader. Martin Scorcese is directing.
Where Damon shines and takes more of the spotlight in the ensemble, Danny Ocean (George Clooney), Basher Tarr (Don Cheadle), Terry Benedict, Frank Catton (Bernie Mac), the Malloy twins, Livingston Dell, Yen and Saul Bloom (Carl Reiner) all take considerable steps back from the story. Although they are mentioned frequently, the focus is placed more evenly on Ocean (Clooney), Ryan (Pitt) and Lahiri (Zeta-Jones) and Caldwell (Damon).
The comedic highlights come from Damon's naïve stupidity as Linus Caldwell and Elliott Gould's over-the-top eccentricities as Reuben Tishkoff. Their antics alone are worth the price of admission and certainly add the main ingredient that allows director Steven Soderbergh to leave the unfair comparisons of the Rat Pack original and create a franchise (it's possible to see a third being made) all his own.
Ocean's Twelve may be one of the most glamorous, goofy, and heartfelt films about failure ever made, and as soon as I get out from under Oscar-qualifying weepies about incest, child-molesting, and paralysis, I'm going to run out and see it again, just to cheer myself up.
With nothing dramatically at stake, pic stays aloft due to its larky, humorous riffs and sense of genuine fun that pulsates among the players even more than before. There's Matt Damon's Linus, so eager to be accepted by Danny and Rusty, becoming totally flummoxed when his buds and a contact (Robbie Coltrane) start speaking in riddles; Linus again, getting upset when he thinks the gang intends to rob a handicapped man...
As before, the big stars get most of the screen time. Bernie Mac essentially vanishes early on, and Casey Affleck, Scott Caan and Eddie Jemison aren't around much either. Damon shines Linus' denseness up to the light for all to see, while Don Cheadle as the Cockney, Carl Reiner as the most respectable of the lot, Elliott Gould as the most vulgar and Shaobo Qin as the man who can fit in a carry-on bag do almost precisely what they did the first time around. For their parts, Clooney and Pitt embody the essence of the goofing Rat Pack spirit, 21st-century style, which is precisely what is asked.