Michael Clayton is a 'fixer' for one of New York's top law firms; if something gets messy, he cleans it up. When his friend and colleague loses his marbles and threatens to expose a biochemical company of causing the deaths of hundreds of people, Clayton is asked to bring him back to his senses.
But in the process he too begins to unearth the sordid characters he has made his career out of rescuing, and is forced to fight for what is left of his integrity. Clooney is a masterful Clayton, playing his restrained panic with ease and composure, while Tom Wilkinson's turn as the conscience ravaged attorney Arthur Edens is compelling.
It's a clever, dark and chilling suspense thriller that is unlike anything you'll see this year and might well earn Clooney an Oscar nomination for Best Actor.
Interview with George Clooney
Is it true to made the film free of charge?
In effect, yes. I didn't take any money, but will make money if it becomes a success. You win some, you lose some. I lost out on The Good German, for example. But I have made a lot of money from films in the past and now have a choice. Do I do a film like Michael Clayton, which I really believe in? Or do I get bored and well-paid by big studios for those I don't? I'm lucky to have a choice.
What was your relationship with Tom Wilkinson, who plays Arthur Edens?
I think Tom learned a lot from me as an actor [laughs]. He kept on saying: "How would you say these lines, George?" The very first day at work, for me, was the scene in jail with Tom. It was like jumping in to the fire.
How do you feel about lawyers who protect the guilty?
Our country believes that everyone has a right to a fair trial. We have to prove whether the law works or not. Even Saddam Hussein had a lawyer defending him. I would not like it myself - but we have a right to a fair trial.
Why are you so politically motivated?
I did Goodnight, and Good Luck and Syriana because I was pissed off. I was portrayed in a magazine, on the cover, as a traitor to my country, for saying that we should ask some questions before we send in 150,000 people to be shot at in Iraq.
Would a Democrat make a difference in the White House?
I like Barack Obama because he's very intelligent. He's the only guy in that group who wrote a piece in 2003 to say how stupid going in to that war was. You have been in a room every once in a while with a rock star and he takes your breath away. Barack Obama is just like that.