Written Interview: Tony Gilroy

July 3rd, 2010 by

Today’s interview is with screenwriter and director Tony Gilroy. In addition to writing and directing Duplicity (2009) and co-writing the screenplay for State of Play (2009), Gilroy’s credits include The Cutting Edge (1992), Dolores Clairborne (1995), The Bourne Identity (2002), The Bourne Supremacy (2004), The Bourne Ultimatum (2007), and Michael Clayton (2007), which he wrote and directed. Some interview excerpts:

Filmmaker: Michael Clayton is reminiscent of movies from the 1970s, when thrillers could be thoughtful and slow-burning.

Gilroy: 70s movies are the heart of where my moviegoing obsession really began, and they’re still the films I go back and look at the most. It was a combination of muscular filmmaking with great subject matter. And ambiguity. Muscle and ambiguity and complexity and loose ends. That’s been ghetto-ized off to the side now to the Sundance film or the super-indie film, where people are really hanging on for dear life [because] they don’t have enough money to make their movies. They have the twentieth choice of actor, and their crew’s doing everything for the first time. But that era of balls-out, tough, full-stop, pro moviemaking that didn’t have the chaos beaten out of it, there are so many movies that fall into that category: the [Alan J.] Pakula films, Klute was a big influence, Point Blank was a huge influence, all the Gordon Willis films, Sidney Lumet, Hal Ashby, Frank Perry – and Sydney [Pollack].


Filmmaker: What were your major cinematic influences growing up?

Gilroy: Growing up, it was all the films of the 60s. It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World was a huge influence on me. But when it came to going to movies in the 70s, that’s really when everything [came together]. I moved to Boston when I was 17 years old as a musician, and there was the Orson Welles, the Harvard Square, the Brattle Theater, the Central Square Theater — within 15 blocks, there were five or six amazing rep houses that were changing movies every day. Imagine if there were 18 Film Forums. I used to see everything, and then I started working back and seeing all the Billy Wilder films, the old [Ernst] Lubitsch films. So those were the years that I really fell in love with movies.


Filmmaker: Finally, what’s the best advice you could give to a young filmmaker?

Gilroy: Have fun, but be cruel. You really have to be cruel to yourself, don’t fool yourself. It’s that fine balance between being really enthusiastic and free and loose and imaginative, and being really tough on yourself. Be tough on yourself before somebody else is.

For the rest of the interview, go here.

You can also go here for a previous interview.

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