[21 February 2008]
He looks like a Brooks Brothers model, but keeps his feet planted squarely behind the camera. He was raised in upstate New York, yet writes like an acerbic British wordsmith. When he decided to direct, he got four of the most seasoned moviemakers in the business to produce. And everything he touches, at least in 2007, turns to gold.
Now that the writers’ strike is settled in time for Sunday’s Oscars, expect the TV cameras that night to make repeated glances at Tony Gilroy. When the Manhattan-born writer donned a director’s hat for the first time on his legal thriller, “Michael Clayton,” he ended up winning nominations for his fleet direction and eminently quotable screenplay, as well as navigated three of his actors into the Oscar race (George Clooney, Tilda Swinton and Tom Wilkinson). The cake’s icing: The picture’s up for the top prize, as well.
As if all this weren’t enough to bag Gilroy a gold statue for best overachiever, he also wrote the screenplay for “The Bourne Ultimatum,” which earned three Oscar nominations in addition to “Michael Clayton’s” grand total of seven.
The son of Pulitzer Prize-winning dramatist Frank D. Gilroy (“The Subject Was Roses”), Tony Gilroy is your basic 15-year overnight success. Making his screenwriting debut in 1992 with the ice rink drama “The Cutting Edge,” Gilroy carved a swath in Hollywood as a writer of high-end, commercially viable thrillers. Among the more notable successes were the Al Pacino-Keanu Reeves fantasy “The Devil’s Advocate” and “Dolores Claiborne,” one of the most emotionally resonant screen adaptations of a Stephen King work to date.
It was Gilroy’s smart, tricky scripts for the three “Bourne” thrillers, however, that cemented his reputation as the classiest purveyor of breathless suspense films in the business.
The notion for “Michael Clayton” came to Gilroy when he was researching big-city law firms for “The Devil’s Advocate.” It would take another 10 years before the script would go before the cameras, but by that time, Gilroy had an A-list team behind him that included Steven Soderbergh, Anthony Minghella, Sidney Pollack and his leading man. When you’ve got this many Oscar winners shoring you up, how can you lose?
BEST DIRECTOR NOMINEES
“The Diving Bell and the Butterfly,” Julian Schnabel
“Juno,” Jason Reitman
“Michael Clayton,” Tony Gilroy
“No Country for Old Men,” Joel Coen and Ethan Coen
“There Will Be Blood,” Paul Thomas Anderson