“It was nothing but fun, there wasn’t a bad day on set”: George Clooney, Julia Roberts, Ol Parker and cast on Ticket to Paradise
Ticket To Paradise is a bittersweet comedy-drama set in Bali that follows two young friends who journey there together. When one finds love with a local boy and makes plans to elope, her divorced parents step in to try and stop their union and prevent them from making the same mistakes they think they both made 25 years previously.
With the release of this heartwarming romcom, The Upcoming had the pleasure of hearing from the director, Ol Parker, and his ensemble cast – George Clooney, Julia Roberts, Kaitlyn Denver, Maxime Bouttier, Billy Lourd and Lucas Bravo – at the virtual press conference hosted by Edith Bowman.
We learned that the British director only had Clooney and Roberts in mind for the two leads in this film, and he stressed their involvement was imperative to the feature: “We wouldn’t have made the film if it wasn’t for them. It was conceived for them and written for them and I begged them to do it and they took notice.” Clooney cheekily responded that the real reason Parker got them to do it was that, “In fairness, you had some pretty compromising photos of Julia…”
When asked what drew them to the project, aside from begging letters from Parker, Roberts said: “The chance to be snarky at George really jumped out at me. Just to see him so pathetically in love with me when I’ve clearly moved on.” Amidst peals of laughter, the chemistry between the two is clear. After meeting on the set of Oceans Eleven and starring opposite each other numerous times over the years, Clooney told us, “I called Julia up and said, ‘Have you read the script?’. She said yes, and I said, ‘It only works if you do it’. She said the same. It worked out and it’s fun to work with friends…and Julia….” Roberts also described her working relationship with Parker as, “So great, he’s so gentle and funny and confident and brave, and I think that we are an unruly bunch and he understood us all as individuals and really knew how to shepherd us in this really beautiful way, and I think it shows”. Clooney added, “You want me to say something more nice about him? We were lucky. He wrote a beautiful script, and he got his group and he’s [had] to figure out a way to make us all pay attention – and it was nothing but fun, there wasn’t a bad day on set which is a rare thing.”
Despite the feature being set in Bali, filming took place primarily in Australia, with Roberts exclaiming that although it looks like paradise, “Everything’s trying to kill you. A seashell. No, that’s actually something that will kill you. So it was more like…Ticket to the Hospital!”. Clooney added that the filming process was harder amidst the pandemic: “The people of Australia really got their head down, took a big sacrifice to do this. Had we, in the United States, done that we’d have had 900 thousand more people alive today. So what they did was incredibly brave. So for us coming in, we had some inconveniences, but they went through a long hard slog, so we felt very honoured to be there.” Billy Lourd, who plays Wren, added that the positive elements of filming on location in Queensland were the, “Tim Tams forever! It was one of the most incredible places, being there with my family, I made a little book for my kid because he won’t remember it. Breastfeeding, then quarantining. It was awesome”, adding that she really enjoyed the comedy moments as she’d, “grown up with the funniest woman of all time: my mum. So, not being funny would mean I would not be accepted in my family. I need to be funny to survive”.
The rest of the cast then went on to talk about some of the scenes, how they felt in character and the specifics of working with Clooney and Roberts. Kaitlyn Denver, who plays their daughter Lily, described performing with the Hollywood duo: “It was really a masterclass, I felt like I was a total sponge…I’d never done a romcom before so I was looking to do something different, use a different part of my brain!.” Lucas Bravo, who plays Julia’s younger boyfriend, Paul, added: “I think for the first time I found out what it felt like to be at someone’s service. I felt like in every scene with George and Julia they were always trying to put me in this spotlight on a set that [was] so safe, with so much love. It seems this Paul went through his entire life without any trauma. So naive and innocent. Like a fourteen-year-old trapped in a thirty-something body. Oli allowed me to improvise and gave me room to try things, and George and Julia helped me navigate, so we created these crazy scenes. The kissing scene with Julia on the plane: we were just laughing….they were telling us to do it again”, to which Clooney responded that, “Julia wanted to do it again!”. Roberts shot back: “It was in my contract!”.
Maxime Bouttier, who plays Lily’s love interest, Gede, said: “When I got the call and got the part I was just over the moon to be working with George and to have big chunks of dialogue with him. It was a crazy experience.” Parker interjected to add that there was a point after he’d cast Max that he then called him up and he seemed really nervous: “He said, ‘I’ve been watching all of George’s films and he’s incredible’, to which I told him to stop”. Clooney jokingly then told Max, “Don’t look too closely!”.
Parker then talked through the scene where Clooney and Roberts embarrass their daughter with a very cringy dance, Parker being quick to divulge that, “Jump Around is George’s go-to party trick”, with Clooney agreeing that he requested House of Pain for that scene. Parker said that he promised it would be under a minute long as it was so expensive to use but that it, “comes in at one minute four seconds long which is another million dollars! But it was so good that they didn’t make me cut the four seconds!”. Clooney then added, “there were these three young’uns sitting there and Julia and I just went: ‘Let’s light it up, here we go’… their faces were just horror, we were very proud!”.
Aside from starring in the feature, the pair also co-produced the film, with Clooney divulging, “I think as you last a little longer in the business, you’re trying to find other ways to participate. You don’t really just want to worry about what the casting director thinks, how you’re ageing as an actor, so you always want to write, direct, and this is executive producing and [there’s] a big difference between that and producing. There are actual producers who find the money, do all the hard work, and so this is just us helping with distribution and things like that. So I think Julia and I need to have other irons in the fire”. Roberts added that aside from the logistics of co-producing, their aim was to bring people together and make it a comfortable and fun space to work in: “George and I are motivated to make people laugh and it was a joy when we did something and could hear everyone laughing across the set. To work in an environment like this was really joyful and to be on an Island with no place to run – we got to spend sweet time together and share that space in a unique way, which isn’t always afforded when you’re going home to your regular life every day after work.”
Ticket to Paradise is released nationwide on 20th September 2022.
Watch the trailer for Ticket to Paradise here: