George Clooney’s five seconds of goofy dancing in Ticket To Paradise cost a million dollars
It might be silly and somewhat cheesy, but the 1992 hip-hop hit Jump Around by House Of Pain holds a special place in American actor George Clooney’s heart.
There was to be a party scene in the new romantic comedy Ticket To Paradise, which called for him and co-star Julia Roberts to act as a bickering divorced pair bonding over drinks and dancing, and for him to then get on the dance floor and show off boomer moves that would make his on-screen daughter Lily (played by Kaitlyn Dever) cringe.
British director Ol Parker, 53, speaking at a banter-filled online press conference in early September, says that Jump Around is 61-year-old Clooney’s “go-to party track”.
Clooney – who, along with Roberts, is an executive producer on the film – chimes in to own up to the fact. “It is. I requested House Of Pain,” he says.
Parker knew the studio would keep an eye on the cost of licensing pop tunes. Ticket To Paradise had a budget of US$36.2 million (S$51.6 million).
He says: “It’s expensive, so I did promise them that the song would be heard for under a minute, but the scene came in at one minute and four seconds.”
The extra five seconds of tipsy footwork would cost another million dollars, adds Parker, director of another music-driven movie, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (2018), the sequel to Mamma Mia (2008). Both films are based on the hits of Swedish pop group Abba.
To his relief, the studio liked the scene, so it remained intact.
American actress Roberts, 54, in one of several good-natured digs at friend and co-star Clooney, says: “A million dollars for five seconds of George doing the running man.”
Including Ticket To Paradise, which opens in Singapore on Thursday, the pair have starred in five movies.
They first met on the heist thriller Ocean’s Eleven (2001), which sparked a friendship that has lasted through the biopic Confessions Of A Dangerous Mind (2002) and Ocean’s Twelve (2004), the sequel to the 2001 movie. This is their first film together since the crime thriller Money Monster (2016).
In it, they play David and Georgia, whose marriage to each other ended acrimoniously years ago. They are in Bali to attend the wedding of their daughter Lily (Dever), who has fallen in love with a local seaweed farmer Gede (Indonesian actor Maxime Bouttier, in his first Hollywood production). She plans to remain in Bali with her husband and ditch her budding law career.
Horrified at the thought of Lily making the same mistake they made, David and Georgia hatch a secret plan to abort the wedding and bring her home.
Roberts and Clooney first realised they clicked when, after meeting during the production of Ocean’s Eleven, they “sat on the floor of a hotel and made jokes for five hours”, says Clooney.
They confirm at the press conference that each would do the film only if the other was cast.
For Roberts, she took the job because, as she puts it, she could not pass up a chance to play a character who “gets to be snarky at George”.
But as Parker reveals, she had grown so chummy with Clooney that she needed a nudge. He felt that in one argument scene, “George was going for it, but Julia said she couldn’t be mean to him”.
“I told her to let him have it. It was my only note to her during the three months of shooting,” says Parker.
A dam broke, and after that, as Roberts says, “you couldn’t hold me back”.
Filming was supposed to have taken place in Bali, but Covid-19 restrictions scrapped those plans.
Production moved to the Australian state of Queensland. It had sun and surf, but most importantly, was also able to offer the cast and crew a quarantine bubble. Filming took place close to the Great Barrier Reef’s islands and beaches, studded with Balinese-style homes and temples built by the production team.
In other reports, Roberts had said her family remained in the United States, so inside the bubble, she grew close to the Clooney family. Clooney’s wife, human rights lawyer Amal Alamuddin, and their five-year-old twins, Ella and Alexander, lived with him during the shoot.
Roberts says she found the forced isolation “joyful”.
“We were on an island with no place to run. We got to spend a really sweet time together, which is something that isn’t afforded when you’re kind of going home to your regular life after work.”