Friday, March 21, 2008

Paul Giamatti's Joins Tony Gilroy's Duplicity

Tony Gilroy on Michael Clayton

Last year I had the chance to interview Tony Gilroy (left above) shortly before the release of Michael Clayton. As most of us already know, the film went on to achieve monumental heights with its seven Academy Award nominations, including two for Gilroy's directing and screenplay; though he ultimately did not win. Mind you, this was the first time the seasoned scribe has directed a feature film. Winning or not, being nominated is certainly not a bad start. I've definitely become a follower of the humble screenwriter-turned-director, and am eagerly anticipating his next project, Duplicity. News comes to today that Paul Giamatti has joined the cast, which is shaping up to be a heavyweight roster on par with Clayton. But, is Giamatti replacing someone?

Duplicity has the markings of another tense, corporate thriller. You have rival CEOs, played by Tom Wilkinson and Billy Bob Thornton and two corporate spies, played by Clive Owen and Julia Roberts. The double-ness of the cast is certainly living up to the film's title. However, where does Giamatti come in? AICN and others are reporting that the actor, who last starred opposite Owen in Shoot 'Em Up, will play "Wilkinson's rival." But isn't that Thornton's role? Talk about duplicity! News of Billy Bob assuming Wilkinson's nemesis was widely reported back in late January. As of now, there's been no mention of Thornton being officially replaced.

I'd be sad to see Billy Bob go. He definitely has a calculating, emotional ethos that would translate wonderfully in a Gilroy project, especially opposite Wilkinson. Giamatti is great, too, mind you, but in a much different way. Having all three involved would be outstanding. As for Owen and Roberts, they'll do well rounding out the cast, and playing opposite one another. They're a bit less complex than Thornton/Giamatti and Wilkinson, but nevertheless great performers, and certainly big-name draws.

Duplicity seems to be tracking a bit like Michael Clayton. Gilroy is writing and directing again, and bringing back Wilkinson and producers Kerry Orent and Jennifer Fox. Gilroy attributed much of the success of Clayton to these producers, in fact. "The reason that [Michael Clayton] works so well was the day-to-day producers, Jen Fox and Kerry Orent."

Unlike Clayton, however, I bet Gilroy was able to sell Duplicity into Universal much easier this time around given the validation he's received. Gilroy had a heck of a time getting Clayton financed, given the big names attached and the rather subtle plot. "You still have studios saying, 'Well, we're spending this much money, we have to have a movie that everybody gets.'" Everyone may not have gotten it - the film only brought in $80+ million worldwide - but clearly the right people did. And I'm sure even more people will be on board for Duplicity.

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