George Clooney and Julia Roberts are dream ticket in new romantic comedy Ticket to Paradise
Hollywood stars don't shine brighter than George Clooney and Julia Roberts. The Oscar-winning duo are firm friends and have reunited for a new romantic comedy, Ticket to Paradise, starring as a divorced couple who are united in trying to stop their daughter repeat their mistakes. Gemma Dunn talks to the actors to find out more
ON-SCREEN chemistry is not something George Clooney and Julia Roberts are short of.
The Academy Award winners have united on several titles, from the first two chapters in the Ocean's franchise, through to neo-noir comedy drama Confessions of a Dangerous Mind and political thriller Money Monster.
Yet their latest reunion comes in the form of Ticket To Paradise, in cinemas from tomorrow, a romantic comedy directed by British filmmaker Ol Parker.
It was too good an opportunity to miss, declare the pair, who remain good friends and certainly provide no shortage of laughs and good-natured ribbing in its promotion.
"(It was) the chance to be snarky to George that really jumped out at me," quips Roberts (54) of her decision to sign up.
"Just to see him just so pathetically in love with me (the character) when I've clearly moved on..."
"Well what was so important to me was to be able to work with the queen of sitcoms, the queen of romantic comedies. But she couldn't take the job. So I worked with Julia instead..." Clooney (61) responds, not one to miss a beat.
A tale of second chances, the feature sees the Hollywood duo take on exes David and Georgia, who find themselves on a shared mission to Bali to stop their lovestruck daughter Lily (played by Kaitlyn Dever) from making the same mistake they once made.
The slip-up in question: marrying her newfound fiance, Gede, played by Maxime Bouttier.
It's the rom-com birth we all need after the last couple of years, insists Parker (53), who is known for his direction on Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again.
"When the pandemic hit, the things that I'd been writing at the time suddenly seemed completely irrelevant," he reasons.
"The world had completely changed. I thought about what I wanted to write and work on next, and I landed on writing something that would make people happy - something joyous and optimistic.
"Romantic comedies bring a large audience together to collectively laugh with each other, and after a few tough years, that seemed like a beautiful thing to bring to the big screen."
That was it. His sights were solely set on Clooney and Roberts.
"It was only them. If they (hadn't said yes) I wouldn't be sitting here, we wouldn't have made a film," Parker insists.
"As a general rule of thumb, you should never mention another actor that you're aiming for to co-star when you send an actor a script in case you don't get that other actor.
"But in this case, I wrote to each of them and told them that I envisioned it with both. It was clear to me that it barely existed if it wasn't them. I had no plan B."
"Julia and I weren't actively looking for a project to do together, but, of course, it was easy to say yes to a chance to work on another project with her," admits Clooney.
"Ol Parker sent the script to both of us at the same time and said that he had written the parts for Julia and me. So, right after I read it, I called Julia and told her, 'I'll do it if you do it,' and she said, 'Well, I'll do it if you will.' And not long after that, we were heading to Australia."
"George and I have always had a good chemistry as friends," notes Roberts, who recently said Clooney and his family saved her from 'complete loneliness and despair' while filming on location in Queensland during the Covid pandemic.
"We approach our work in similar ways as well. I think we also get a lot of joy out of making each other laugh. So, each day was like a search for me to find how I could make George laugh. We both take an immense amount of care in creating an environment where people feel creative and happy at work. It brings out the best in everyone."
"I think the main reason that Julia and I work so well together is because we know how to make each other laugh," Clooney concurs.
"We have a similar sense of humour and just get each other, so it's always sort of been that way for us. I hadn't done a romantic comedy since One Fine Day, so, when I got this script, it felt like a perfect opportunity."
Dever, who gained recognition for Booksmart and Hulu drama Dopesick (the latter of which earned her a Golden Globe nomination) was only too happy to witness - and play the offspring of - the dream pairing.
"I really enjoyed being around actors that loved being on set and making movies," says the 25-year-old.
"It was so much fun being around them and joking around and laughing.
"The two of them are best buds and it's a blast to be around that kind of love and kindness they have for each other."
The film marks the second time Dever stars alongside her former Booksmart co-star Billie Lourd, who here takes on Lily's best friend Wren.
"I was absolutely flabbergasted when Ol offered me the part," says Scream Queen star Lourd (30).
"I was floored that I was getting the chance to be part of such a fun, iconic, hysterical movie, and I was getting to work with George Clooney and Julia Roberts.
"I think I screamed on the Zoom," she recalls, laughing.
"I was also so excited to work with Kaitlyn again. She and I were immediately fast friends on Booksmart, but on this, we became like sisters.
"She's like family to me now and I adore her so much.
"A lot of rom-coms are very straightforward, but I loved that this one has a lot of sarcasm, cynicism and snark. That's what makes it so funny and made me excited to be part of it."
What makes it unique, still, is that it's seen through a mature lens, unlike most rom-coms which are primarily about people in their 20s or early 30s.
"We're in a space in the world right now where people want to see something funny and comforting," concludes Working Title co-chairman, Tim Bevan.
"Romantic comedies have a bit of predictability about them, but the unexpected thing about this movie is that there are various relationships within the family and emotions within the family that audiences will find themselves being moved by."
:: Ticket to Paradise is in cinemas from tomorrow.