George Clooney is one of our greatest living movie stars and our third greatest ER star (after Anthony Edwards and Noah Wyle). He is also famously quite the rascal when it comes to playing pranks on people, which probably comes a bit easier when you are an enormously wealthy and beloved superstar of cinema. And as Clooney tells it, one of his best pranks ever involved terrifying Brad Pitt and Don Cheadle and then abandoning them in the dead of night. While we do not wish either Pitt or Cheadle any ill will, that does sound like a pretty good prank for a person that has the resources of Batman.
What happened is that George Clooney was filming the hit 2004 film Ocean’s 12, the follow-up to the very successful Steven Soderbergh remake of the 1960 Rat Pack movie Ocean’s 11. Like the first movie, the film starred a who’s who of Hollywood at the time, including Brad Pitt, Don Cheadle, Julia Roberts, Matt Damon, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Andy Garcia, Ben Affleck’s brother, and James Caan’s son. Because the life of George Clooney is a good one, he has a mansion in Italy, on Lake Como. That was also where Ocean’s 12 was partially filmed (along with the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas, the Sorbonne in Paris, and Monaco’s Casino Monte Carlo) and during production, Clooney had the primary cast stay at his home. And while they were there, the Ocean’s crew got themselves good and spooked out by telling ghost stories.
That is certainly a good way for George Clooney and Friends (a Saturday morning cartoon show that we will be pitching to various networks) to kill time, but then Danny Ocean took things a step further. Apparently, across the lake from his villa, there is an abandoned house and with the assistance of a local Italian friend named Giovanni, he convinced his co-stars that the house was haunted. Here’s what Clooney says:
[T]here was a house across the lake, empty. And we made up a story about how haunted it was. And my buddy Giovanni, who was Italian, he’s pretending to read this story where this guy would kill people and, you know, throw them into the lake. He talked everyone into how dangerous this house was
So not only did George Clooney and his Italian buddy convince his fellow film stars that this house across the lake was haunted, but that it had once essentially belonged to a serial killer who would dispose of bodies in the very lake that they were right next to. And as movie stars will, the situation swiftly turned into a five-figure bet. Here’s Clooney again:
So, we came down to the conclusion that we’d give $10,000 to any guy who could spend the night in the house with a candle, you got six matches and a bottle of wine.
But the real key to the prank is that once they got there George Clooney and Matt Damon just took off, leaving Brad Pitt and Don Cheadle behind, and apparently just waited for them to freak out. And freak out they did:
We left Cheadle and Pitt there and Matt and I came back. We’re sitting in the boat in the middle of the lake. We have to see the candle go by every window. It goes by 2 or 3 windows and then we get a call. They’re like, ‘Fuck that, get us out of this house!’ We came back and pulled them out. So there was a lot of idiocy along the way
Given that George Clooney successfully finished filming Ocean’s 12 with Pitt and Cheadle (and later, Ocean’s 13), it can be presumed that they gave him. The fact that they were staying in his mansion at the foot of the Alps probably softened the blow a little bit for them. The list of George Clooney pranks throughout the years is extensive (with some being meaner or grosser than others), but Brad Pitt and Don Cheadle surely know: once you’ve been pranked by George Clooney, you’ve been pranked by the best.