5. Don Cheadle - Ocean's Eleven
2001’s heist comedy, Ocean’s Eleven, boasted a dream cast with the likes of Julia Roberts, George Clooney, Brad Pitt, and Matt Damon. The film’s title refers to the number of crooks Clooney’s Danny Ocean assembles to pull of a casino robbery. But if you’re counting the number of robbers in the film, and then count the number of them listed in the credits, you will only come up with ten. That’s because actor Don Cheadle, best known now for playing James “War Machine” Rhodes in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, asked that his name be removed from the film.
Cheadle, who employed a Cockney accent for his role as a demolitions expert, actually had a pretty reasonable argument for this. He was coming hot off the success of the Best Picture Oscar-winner, Traffic, in which he had a major role, and which Ocean’s Eleven director, Steven Soderbergh, had also helmed. In fact, Ocean’s Eleven marked the third time the actor and director had worked together.
In 2001, Cheadle felt he was owed the coveted “name-above-the-title” credit, especially since Brad Pitt and Matt Damon, whose names did go above the title, had not worked with Soderbergh before. When the production company and Cheadle’s representation could not reach a deal, he simply said, “Take my name off it.” Cheadle did come back for the next two films in the franchise, those times reaching a deal to put his name above the titles.
Another interesting caveat about the billing of Ocean’s Eleven is that Julia Roberts was given the “introducing” credit, which may read as a joke. But in business terms, Roberts took the introducing credit so that she could appear in the film at a much lower fee than her usual $20 million that she was making per film at the time. That’s just some more Hollywood negotiation jargon at work.