Tony Gilroy is lapping it up.
An Oscar nominee for writing and directing “Michael Clayton,” much in demand as a screenwriter thanks to his adapting the Jason Bourne action films, he’s having more love thrown his way by critics for his latest, the “smart, droll and dazzling to look at and listen to” corporate espionage romance, “Duplicity.”
Julia Roberts, Clive Owen, Billy Bob Thornton, Tom Wilkinson, Paul Giamatti
(Universal Pictures; US theatrical: 20 Mar 2009 (General release); UK theatrical: 20 Mar 2009 (General release); 2009)
“I like hearing that, that’s all I can say.”
We reached Gilroy, 52, as he drove through Times Square, marveling at all “the taxis with pictures of (his stars) Clive and Julia on them.”
Q: A comic thriller with corporate villains at a time of great corporate villainy. How’d you time this so right?
A: It’s a total accident, of course. If I could have foreseen just how evil Wall Street people could be, I wouldn’t need to make movies. I could’ve shorted every stock on the ticker and retired!
Q: It makes sense that the guy who scripts the Bourne spy movies and the guy who wrote about corporate villainy (“Michael Clayton”) would combine the two. But as a background for romance?
A: I loved the idea of figuring out how two people whose business is mistrust and deception fall in love. They’re professional liars! Steven Soderbergh had the idea of doing a spy movie he wanted me to write, and I sort of thought corporate espionage was more interesting, so that’s where I went with it. With a romance. And I ended up directing it.
Q: The gear these spies put to use would make James Bond’s Q or Tom Clancy salivate. Is it real?
A: I don’t think there’s anything in this movie that isn’t really happening and really being used. You go online and dig up ‘competitive intelligence’ for a couple of minutes and you’ll see how much fun I had writing this. SO much going on. So much hi-tech stuff for spying you can buy.
Q: “Duplicity” has the look and feel of a 1960s heist romance, the original “Thomas Crown Affair,” for instance - jazzy music, split screens.
A: All those movies are in my head. That sexy cat-and-mouse relationship from “Thomas Crown” really inspired me. That chess match scene between McQueen and Dunaway in that film? It’s still PG-13, incredibly sexy 40 years later! That’s what we were going for.