The title Ocean’s Eleven had a pretty simple meaning. George Clooney’s character, Danny Ocean, recruits a team of skilled criminals to join him in a heist. These folks were “Ocean’s” people, and together, there were eleven of them. However, when you look at the actors listed for the first heist movie, you’ll notice one missing. Don Cheadle. He wasn’t listed on the DVDs, and when you go to the IMDb page for the film, he isn’t listed in the Top Cast. You’ll find him in the “full cast” as “Basher Tarr (uncredited)”. And yet, if you watch the film, Cheadle is front and center. Unlike, for example, Julia Roberts, who is listed on the DVD cover. So what gives? Don Cheadle actually asked to have his name removed, though he did appear in the sequels.
The first thing to know is that the way names are listed on a movie is widely discussed. There are the people who are “top billed”. And there are people who are “introduced”. These terms matter for what a star is paid for a movie and the marketing. For the actors and their careers, it matters for how they are then treated and paid on their next film. Ocean’s Eleven was released in 2001. A year prior, Don Cheadle starred in Traffic. That movie had just come off of a Best Picture nomination and several Oscar wins and was also directed by Steven Soderbergh, the director of Ocean’s Eleven.
Following all of this, Don Cheadle wanted to see his name in the top-billed section, often called “above the title”. You can see what that looks like right on the DVD cover for Ocean’s Eleven, where George Clooney, Matt Damon, Andy Garcia, Bradd Pitt, and Julia Roberts are listed.
Don Cheadle had worked with Steven Soderbergh multiple times. He’d just been seen in Traffic. He wanted the production company to put his name above the title and have the actor front and center. The production company disagreed. Cheadle’s reps and the production company could not come to an agreement. When that happened, the actor said to take his name off the movie. So, they did.
When Don Cheadle returned for the sequels, he must have gone into negotiations about this before agreeing to appear in the films. He’s credited above the title in Ocean’s Twelve and Thirteeen. In more recent years, he’s been in more films with the same director. The pair did No Sudden Move together, which just came out in 2021.
Today, there’s still a chance of Don Cheadle returning for another Ocean’s film. That’s right. The star has said that while working with Steven Soderbergh recently, they had spoken about the possibility of doing an Ocean’s Fourteen. Apparently, when Bernie Mac said he wouldn’t do another, everyone else backed down. Despite this, Steven Soderbergh says that he thinks he has a way to pull it off and has ideas in mind. Cheadle said he has no idea where that might go and who might be involved, but it’s now on the actor’s mind as well.