Griffin succeeded in delivering a witty, imaginative script, and Weintraub approached acclaimed director Steven Soderbergh about directing the ambitious project.
"Steven called me after he read the script and his enthusiasm for the project was overwhelming," Weintraub recalls. "He said ‘I want to make this movie because I can't wait to see it.'"
"When I read Ted's script, I was thrilled and scared at the same time," Steven Soderbergh reveals.
"I was thrilled because I thought that he had written something that was as close to a perfect piece of entertainment as I'd ever read. It seemed to deliver on all the levels that you want a movie with lots of movie stars and a heist to deliver on.
And it was scary because it was physically bigger than anything I'd ever attempted and, in my opinion, required a style of filmmaking that I hadn't employed before — one that I was going to have to teach myself.
"The issues," continues Soderbergh "weren't so much that I was worried I wouldn't be able to handle it as a cinematographer, but whether or not as director I would be up to what I think the technical standards are for this type of film.
It's a different way of shooting than what I'd been doing for the last few years, culminating in Traffic, which was a very down and dirty, run and gun kind of film. Ocean's is exactly the opposite. I thought it should be a very constructed, composed and theatrical kind of film.
I did a lot of studying and looking at films made by directors who I thought spoke that visual language very well, trying to figure out what they were doing."
Soderbergh also drew inspiration from another classic adventure film. "I've been very public about the fact that Jaws is one of my favorite movies of all time," he enthuses. "I think it's a classic piece of entertainment.
I love seeing a movie that does what it does and does it well and makes no argument about it. To me, Ocean's Eleven was my opportunity to try and make a movie that has no desire except to give you pleasure from beginning to end — a movie that you just surrender to, without embarrassment and without regret."
Ultimately, Soderbergh couldn't pass up the challenges and the fun that would come with directing Griffin's intricate script. "I think that in any movie, whether it's The Sting or Big Deal on Madonna Street, part of the joy in a caper is seeing the team being put together. It's fun seeing who they are going to get, what they are like and how they are going to work together.
"The trick was to lay out how the heist is going to go, but not lay it out in such detail that you know what's coming," Soderbergh continues. "It's a tough balance to achieve, because if the audience knows too much, they're ahead of you. Ted did a wonderful job of finding that balance.
The script works because you meet everybody, you know them well, and you have a pretty strong idea of how the heist going to go. Yet, when it starts to happen, there are things that you didn't know. And there are things that go wrong that the characters couldn't have anticipated. Then the fun is watching them improvise and figure out how to still pull it off."