At an Ocean's 8 press conference Tuesday at the Temple of Dandur at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Sandra Bullock confessed that, when she first heard of Ocean's 8, she didn't think it would get financed.
"I thought it was a fun idea. I didn't at the time think the movie would get made," Bullock told reporters.
Seven of the eight cast members of the film appeared at the conference alongside director Gary Ross and screenwriter Olivia Milch. They discussed the novelty of an all-women heist movie, and what it feels like to have eight of Hollywood's biggest names on the same bill. Blanchett, who plays the Brad Pitt to Bullock's George Clooney in this iteration of the Ocean's franchise, added that just a few years ago, this movie seemed like an "impossibility."
"Isn't it interesting — two or three years, this seemed like an impossibility. Like, how could we possibly get this made? And it's so great that it's being released now, and you go, 'Well, of course.' A lot has shifted," Blanchett revealed.
Gary Ross, the film's director, added, "There are more 'of courses' now than there were then."
Rumors about an all-women Ocean's movie emerged in late 2015, years after Steven Soderbergh stated that he would not be making an Ocean's Fourteen. Given the historically male format of the movies — Frank Sinatra starred in the original, and Clooney dominated Soderbergh's remakes — this seemed like a pipe dream. But by summer of 2016, the rumour earned credibility with the news that the movie had a fully stacked cast. (Elizabeth Banks was initially reported to be in the film, but she later dropped out.) The movie's titular 8 are as follows: Mindy Kaling, Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Rihanna, Awkwafina, Helena Bonham Carter, Sarah Paulson, and Anne Hathaway.
"I'm really excited for the moment that this doesn't feel special anymore," Hathaway said of the film. In the movie, she plays a fame-crazed celebrity who's wearing the necklace Sandra Bullock's character plans to burgle.
The massive cast did manage to bond during the film, Bullock added, even though their schedules didn't really allow for it. "I think we managed to connect on a level that we never ever would have been given a chance [to connect on] because we — women, you know, there's five roles [in Hollywood] and we're all looking for them, and they're all lone little islands, and here we were, Hawaii, and all the other islands," she said, talking her way through the metaphor. In case you're wondering, the cast does have a group text.
"You guys all know about the Bechdel test," Kaling said, referring to the Bechdel-Wallace test, which asks if a film contains two female characters who talk about something other than a man. "This passes it with flying colours. I mean, the fact that we're orchestrating a crime as opposed to fighting over a man. There's isn't even a spectre of a man."
It's rare — indeed, maybe unprecedented — that an action film would feature eight women collaborating on one massive heist. Much less eight women who are funny, glamorous, and not in the midst of romantic turmoil. It's a mark of a greater cultural shift that sees value in telling interesting female-driven stories.
Hathaway added, "You can't underestimate the power of visual representation. So, to an 8-year-old girl, we're not trying to say, 'Go have a life of crime,' but we're saying, 'Go do what you want. Go do what you want [because] there's space for you. There's space for you to do it with your friends. And there's room for all of you.'"
And to think — two or three years ago, this might not have been greenlit.