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Duplicity - Tony Gilroy interview


Interview by Rob Carnevale

TOMY Gilroy made his directorial debut with Michael Clayton, another film based on his own script. He follows that up with Duplicity, a romantic espionage caper that pits Julia Roberts against Clive Owen as rival spies who just happen to be in love with each other.

He talks to us about the truth behind the corporate espionage element of the story, the pleasure of working with such high calibre performers and why he intends to keep writing and directing his own material.

Q. When you were writing this did you have Clive Owen and Julia Roberts in mind?
Tony Gilroy: Yes… but I’m a liar. I wrote this quite a few years ago and it originally started with Steven Soderbergh, who was the very first director who had their hands on it. So, the short answer is that it’s been around for a while. David Fincher was also involved for a while, as was Spielberg… and then when we were making Michael Clayton I kind of started hoping that no one would pay attention to it and it would still be sitting there for me when I got through the experience. And when I did, I met Clive along the way and sent him the script. He called me back and, I think, within the second or third minute of that cool we were already conspiring about how to get Julia Roberts.

Q. Were you at all nervous about directing a star of the stature of Julia Roberts?
Tony Gilroy: No. How can you be nervous when you have Julia and Clive? When they come out of their trailers to do a scene, for a director that’s the opposite of being nervous. You know that they’re really, really good and that’s where you’re going to start! Julia made me feel comfortable almost immediately.

Q. You used a very similar crew to the one you used on Michael Clayton. And several of your cast members have worked together before. Does that make for a more comfortable working environment?
Tony Gilroy: We had a very happy experience on Clayton, and the crew on Clayton was terrific in the first place. To be making your first movie and the one thing you know for sure is that the movie’s only as good as the people who are working on it… I really tried to pick a great crew. And once we’d worked together it was a big comfort to be able to put it back together again. The casting of Paul Giamatti and Tom Wilkinson was really a John Adams coincidence. Paul came to us very late. He was the last miracle that happened to us.

Q. Is it true that these big multi-national companies have these intelligence units within them?
Tony Gilroy: Well, they have to have to defensive ones at the very least because the chance of someone coming at them is ever-present. How inventive they are on the offensive side of things is a matter of a lot of debate. There’s a big industry that calls itself competitive intelligence. There’s trade shows and conventions and magazines and websites… they spend a great deal of time talking about ethics and open source. But there isn’t anything in the movie that hasn’t happened, or that’s happening right now.

As silly and extreme as much of it seems, you could sort of go online and kind of footnote the movie a little bit. It doesn’t get publicised and it’s not talked about because the winners don’t want to talk about it, and neither do the losers, but it’s an economic inevitability… if you have something that you’ve put a tremendous amount of money into, and I could put a couple of million dollars into intelligence, I could buy a great deal of intelligence. So, it’s really used and it’s very real and I was really worried when writing it that I’d open up Variety and see there was a television series being made about corporate espionage. It was really surprising to me that this idea was still around and still fresh by the time I got to direct it.

Q. Are you always going to write and direct everything you do?
Tony Gilroy: I’m going to try to do that. We’ll see how it works out. But that’s the plan, unless I change my mind.

Read our review of Duplicity