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Money Monster

Thursday 25th August 2016

In the real-time, high stakes thriller Money Monster, George Clooney and Julia Roberts star as financial TV host Lee Gates and his producer Patty, who are put in an extreme situation when an irate investor who has lost everything (Jack O'Connell) forcefully takes over their studio. During a tense standoff broadcast to millions on live TV, Lee and Patty must work furiously against the clock to unravel the mystery behind a conspiracy at the heart of today's fast-paced, high-tech global markets.
George Clooney, Julia Roberts, Jack O'Connell, Dominic West, Giancarlo Esposito
Jodie Foster
Daniel Dubiecki, Lara Alameddine, George Clooney, Grant Heslov
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
1 hour 38 minutes
2016

In the real-time, high stakes thriller Money Monster, George Clooney and Julia Roberts star as financial TV host Lee Gates and his producer Patty, who are put in an extreme situation when an irate investor who has lost everything (Jack O'Connell) forcefully takes over their studio. During a tense standoff broadcast to millions on live TV, Lee and Patty must work furiously against the clock to unravel the mystery behind a conspiracy at the heart of today's fast-paced, high-tech global markets.

TriStar Pictures presents in association with LStar Capital, a Smokehouse / Allegiance Theater production, a Jodie Foster film, Money Monster. The film stars George Clooney, Julia Roberts, Jack O'Connell, Dominic West, Caitriona Balfe, and Giancarlo Esposito. It is directed by Jodie Foster and produced by Daniel Dubiecki, Lara Alameddine, George Clooney, and Grant Heslov. The screenplay is by Jamie Linden and Alan DiFiore & Jim Kouf with a story by Alan DiFiore & Jim Kouf. Kerry Orent, Tim Crane, Regina Sculley and Ben Waisbren are the executive producers. The filmmaking team includes director of photography Matthew Libatique, ASC, production designer Kevin Thompson, editor Matt Chessé ACE, and costume designer Susan Lyall. Music is by Dominic Lewis. Music produced by Henry Jackman.

"I love this movie because it has two things that sometimes people think are opposites", says Jodie Foster, who directs the thriller Money Monster, starring George Clooney and Julia Roberts. "One is that it's a mainstream thriller that's exciting, fast-paced, smart, and yet, still has a real accessibility. The flip side, which is the most important reason to go to the movies, is that you're moved by a real story. It's incredibly relevant."

"To me, the most exciting part of the story, in addition to the cops, helicopters, guns, bombs, and fast-paced excitement", Foster continues, "is how this man, Lee Gates, played by George Clooney, starts off one way - a shallow, smug, empty guy, who's successful at his work but a failure in everyone's eyes, including his own - but has a terrible moment that forces him, with Julia's help, to rise to the occasion, find his humanity, grow up, evolve, and change."

"The world of money has gotten out of control. When things go wrong, you don't actually understand what it is that went wrong - and the regular guy gets screwed", says George Clooney, who stars as the host of a financial news program who comes face-to-face with one of those regular guys who's determined to hold someone accountable, by any means necessary.

"Jodie never lets up on the pressure cooker", says producer Daniel Dubiecki, who produces the film with his partner, Lara Alameddine, and with Clooney and his partner, Grant Heslov. "This whole film takes place in real time as this event is broadcast on live television - it's very tense."

Clooney stars as Lee Gates, a celebrated stock picker and famed host of the titular financial television show, who darts and dances around his set, shouting investment advice and punctuating market talk with silly props and sound effects. "'Money Monster,' the show, is pretty ridiculous", says Foster. "It's a financial news show, but there's lots of props, old movie clips, bells, whistles, and whoopee cushions that Lee Gates has come up with in order to explain the financial market. He sings and dances with beautiful girls, wears different hats - all so he can dispense stock trading tips - but it has left him with a buried sense of self-loathing. The film presents him with an impossibly unexpected chance at redemption."

Re-teaming with George Clooney is Julia Roberts, who plays Patty Fenn, the unflappable, steadfast and longtime producer of "Money Monster." "Patty Fenn is the uber-producer. She can multi-task like nobody's business - she is amazing", says Foster. "She controls the strings of this show and speaks in Lee Gates' ear to tell him what his next move is. Lee Gates can be lazy. He doesn't learn his lines. He says whatever the heck he wants to say, and she's there to make sure that the show runs smoothly. She knows how to handle this loose cannon."

Clooney adds that all of that showmanship is hiding a deep-seated contempt for the show's own audience. "There's a cynicism that reeks through these shows", says Clooney. "You watch these guys behind their desks, telling you where to put your money - and when you do and you lose it, they go, 'Well, that's what happens.'"

However, Clooney notes, "The film deals much more with the three characters and what they're going through - particularly the man that Jack O'Connell is playing."

When one of Gates' heavily hyped stock predictions, Ibis Clear Capital, mysteriously plummets, his blatant complacency is placed front and center for the world to see as Kyle Budwell (O'Connell), a distraught investor, hijacks a live "Money Monster" broadcast to hold Gates' and Fenn's feet to the fire.

In taking over Gates' show, he sets in motion a crisis that unfolds in real time, on live television. "That was fun for us", says producer Grant Heslov. "We've become almost numb to the stuff we see on TV and the internet, and by having this take place on live TV was a fun way to comment on that."

Gates begins to talk to Kyle - at first, to simply try to prolong his own life, aided by Patty, who remains a calming presence in the control room. "Kyle doesn't know that Lee is talking to Patty through his earpiece the whole time", explains Heslov. "From a dramatic standpoint, it's a great device, and I think it was fun for George and Julia to play as actors."

Later, as Gates and Patty try to work out what's happened, they become genuinely moved by Kyle's pain; they rediscover some journalistic drive and bust open a Wall Street conspiracy that goes well beyond these three people.

"What was really refreshing was to do a story that was set in Wall Street, but wasn't about all of that", says Alameddine. "It was about three people coming together from opposite sides of the coin. This bombastic, superficial personality, by the end, finds a true connection to somebody that he never thought he would."

To inhabit the character of Lee Gates, Clooney created the irreverent, madcap and larger-than-life reality television show personality. "Lee Gates is a bit of a showman", says Foster. "It was George's idea that Lee Gates should open the 'Money Monster' show with a dance. When he first came to rehearsals, he said, 'I'm just going to need a half an hour to figure out the dance thing.' And I replied, 'I think you're going to need a little bit more.' So, we had the choreographer there and he got into it."

Heslov says that sometimes being a producer is hard work. And then there are times that your producing partner shows up to dance. "It's just fun to watch, you know?" he says. "It was one of those times that you get to sit back and relax and watch a performance. To watch him do that ridiculous dance for a couple of days - especially for me, because I've known him so long, and my kids were there, too - we really enjoyed that."

"George really got into making a complete and total ass out of himself", continues Foster. "I do love that about him. There's something about the absurdity of seeing this middle-aged white guy walk on and do this like crazy hip-hop dance...You can't help but laugh, and think his character is a buffoon."

The idea that the entire crisis unfolds on live television was another intriguing aspect for Clooney. "I grew up in live TV - every day of my life for my first 16 years was live TV, because my father had a live variety show and did the news live", says Clooney. "Later, I sort of forced NBC to do a live episode of 'ER,' and I did 'Fail Safe' as a live production. This was before other shows started to do really risky television; I thought the only thing that TV could do that films couldn't was live. It's flying without a net; that's exciting."

"I had worked with George on Up in the Air, and there's a similar aspect to his character in that movie and this one", says Dubiecki. "Both characters could have been unlikeable, one because he's flying around the world firing people, the other because he's become so cynical about the stocks he's hawking on his show. But the incredible thing about George as an actor is the brilliant way he embodies these characters and makes them likeable. As the character changes, he takes the audience with him."

Roberts re-teams with George Clooney as Gates' producer/director, Patty Fenn. Roberts describes Fenn's relationship with Gates as one of love/hate. "He's her wild card, and she is just trying to keep the chaos controlled. She never knows what he's going to do", explains Roberts. "There are aspects of their relationship where they're a good working team, and then parts of it where, she's just gotten fed up, and would prefer to work in a place that makes one hundred percent sense to her. At the same time, she finds an enormous amount of joy because they're opposites, and whenever you find your polar opposite, it's intriguing."

The real-life friendship between Roberts and Clooney contributed to the on-screen chemistry between Fenn and Gates. "George Clooney and Julia Roberts know each other, and care for one another, and have this instant, interesting chemistry that I didn't have to do anything for. It just exists", explains Foster. "The two of them felt incredibly close to each other. They have this intensity, this connection and this communication that's from this organic intimacy between friends."

"George and I are good friends, and we understand each other really well", adds Roberts. "We've found the perfect balance of me being here to support him, and to create our scenes together, and to understand the vibe and the pace, and how we want to create these people together."

Roberts was intrigued by the real-time, ticking-clock nature of the scenario. "Certainly, any time, as an actor, you have a ticking clock, that is a great advantage to know that there isn't any time to waste", she says. "It's about problem-solving and being clever because nobody saw this situation coming."

Taking the role of Kyle Budwell, the ordinary man turned to desperate measures following a big-bank fiasco that costs him his entire life savings, is Jack O'Connell. The breakout star of Unbroken, O'Connell portrays Kyle as a good, decent, hard-working young man who cracks under the pressure of financial ruin. "Kyle is a working class guy who believed that if he did the right thing and worked hard, that somehow he'd be able to have something in his life", explains Foster. "He inherits some money, and tries to invest it as intelligently as possible, but ends up losing it all at the hands of something out of his control. The only thing he has in the world suddenly disappears into thin air, and he doesn't know how it happened. Kyle can't accept that. He can't accept that he did everything right, and yet, he's supposed to just walk away. Kyle refuses to accept failure and move on - instead, he chooses to fight back."

"I empathize with him", says O'Connell. "I think his unfortunate situation is quite relevant and something people can relate to. Still, no one would sympathize with the actions Kyle takes."

Desperate, and turning to violence to levy responsibility for his injustice, Kyle sets his sights on Lee Gates and Walt Camby, the CEO of Ibis Clear Capital. "Kyle goes to the 'Money Monster' set thinking that he's going to see the two biggest culprits of his demise: Walt Camby, played by Dominic West, who is the CEO of the trading fund, and Lee Gates, who told his viewers with much fanfare to invest in Ibis Clear Capital", explains Foster. "He feels like they're in cahoots and he's going to hold them accountable."

"Kyle continues to ask the hard questions that nobody's asking", says Foster. "He refuses to turn a blind eye away from what happened. He knows that he's not going to get his money back, but he will get answers by any means necessary."

O'Connell sees his character as a victim of a financial system lacking the appropriate safeguards to protect the market from manipulations and malfunctions. "It would be easy to write Kyle off as a villain. It is extreme to threaten lives, but I feel he was pushed past the breaking point", explains O'Connell. "What Kyle has done is out of desperation, and my hope in portraying him is that will come to understand what drives him to the breaking point - though he'll pay the ultimate price for his actions."

In the course of the film, Kyle becomes the catalyst for Gates' own change. "True to form, Gates' first response to this threatening situation is to try to manipulate Kyle", explains Foster. "When he realizes that all of his old ruses and all of his old scripts of manipulations are not going to work, he is forced to face the harsh fact that he's been unconscious, asleep at the wheel, and that he can no longer afford to be complacent while lies are being told."

To fully embody Budwell, O'Connell needed to tap into his own raw, visceral emotion. "Kyle is all heart. He makes rash, emotional decisions", explains Foster. "Kyle is, at times, unstable and hard to take. But, there are other moments where he's just a little boy, and you want to put your arms around him, and tell him it's going to be okay. And Jack had to create Kyle based on a range of fluctuating feelings."

"Jack just grabs you and he doesn't let go", says Alameddine. "He's that great blend of strength and softness. Even though he's doing something very unlikeable, he's doing it because he wanted to be heard. Jack makes you want to feel something for him, to connect to his message in some way."

Foster found O'Connell's dedication to his craft truly admirable. "Jack is just such a wonderful gift of an actor", says Foster. "I wish I approached acting that way when I was young with such incredible commitment and passion. I just love that about him - He's able to just give so much. He just never stops giving."

As Chief Communications Officer of Ibis Clear Capital, Diane Lester, played by "Outlander's" Caitriona Balfe, is the spokesperson for the company embroiled in an unprecedented financial crisis. "Diane's very interesting. She's quite an ambitious person, and her job is very important to her, but she has a lot of integrity", says Balfe. "There's a sense of naïveté to her, which I quite liked. She believes in the company that she works for, and feels that they're doing a lot of good. She has no reason to question what she's being told. But once she begins to grasp the full picture of the consequences of her job, and how it affects other people, she very quickly becomes a truth-seeker."

The cast is rounded out by "Breaking Bad's" Giancarlo Esposito, who takes the role of Marcus Powell, the police captain trying to defuse the situation, and "The Wire's" Dominic West as Walt Camby, the CEO of Ibis Clear Capital, the company whose sudden stock plunge has incited Kyle to action.

In most major films, a director is shooting with one camera (or some other small number), all shooting in the same format. In directing Money Monster, Foster faced a new challenge. "The Money Monster show, itself, is shot by four different broadcast cameras, plus we, as filmmakers, had to film as well."

Simple enough - except that film cameras and broadcast cameras are incompatible. While capturing the "broadcast," the film cameras had to be out of the way. The solution came with careful planning.

"The broadcast takes place in real time and in multiple locations. If somebody is talking on the monitor, the person he is talking with has to answer him in exactly the same rhythm," continues Foster. "And so, Matt Libatique, the Director of Photography, and I sat around with our stick figures, figuring out when we would be in different places. After a while, it became intuitive as to what camera we needed to be on - this moment should be on a television screen and that moment on a film camera, and so on. When we put it all together, it became seamless."

In using different cameras, Foster could create two distinctive emotional aesthetics. "The film camera gives a dark, moody emotion that you can't get any other way, and the broadcast camera gives you a bright, cheery perspective," explains Foster. "When we go back and forth between the two cameras, there's a tension and energy that comes from the audience having to constantly shift between what's real and what's fake."

"The broadcast cameras gave it the feel of a live television show, the through-the-looking-glass version that Julia's character sees on the monitors, but those cameras don't really capture the drama," says producer Daniel Dubiecki. "The film cameras get right there next to the characters, and they capture the emotion."

"One fun fact is that a couple of the camera guys in the movie were actually real-life camera guys," says Alameddine. "Jodie wanted to make sure that whoever was operating the camera could make it look real."

But again, came the problem of being unable to shoot with both kinds of cameras simultaneously. Clooney says that, in effect, the solution was that most of the film - the entire section that takes place on the TV show soundstage - was shot twice: once from the perspective of the broadcast cameras, and again with the film cameras. "Nine full pages of monologues a day," says Clooney. "You do it all, and then you do it all again for the other camera."

"The entire stage of Money Monster was shot completely in order, and that's almost the full length of the movie," says Foster. "These two characters start out on day one of filming, meet each other for the first time, and as each subsequent scene unfolds, they change and their relationship grows."

Foster also had to factor in the 3D graphics for the Money Monster show. "We had five guys who did all the graphics and each one had their own area of expertise," says Foster. "They were incredibly calm and collected. We were able to have it all happen on screen exactly as it would happen in live television."

The film's other central location for the bulk of the film is the "Money Monster" show's control room, where Patty directs the show and tries to help keep Lee alive. "We shot at CBS studios in the upper West Side of Manhattan," says Foster, noting that it is a real-life control room that could handle a "Money Monster" type of broadcast. "We wanted to keep the certain level of reality found in live television, and capture the intensity and obsession that happens in that moment."

Of course, there were challenges. "One of the more difficult elements of making this movie was this fifteen-by-eight-foot control room," continues Foster. "It was very difficult for our camera to get in there."

"We had a professional technical director teach Julia how to be a real producer," adds Foster. "She's quite proud of the fact that he thinks that she did a great job, and it really looks like she knows what she's doing."

To create a distinction between Money Monster the film and "Money Monster" the television show, Kevin Thompson, the film's production designer, created a set within a set. "It was always important for Jodie to see the set of the Money Monster television program itself - the set of the show that viewers on TV - and also the backstage aspect of the set, with the broadcast cameras that would be shooting the show," explains Thompson. Naturally, the film cameras would be behind all of these, shooting the motion picture. "When designing the set, we started with the center, and then created a shell for all the action. We built a broadcast stage inside a sound stage, and then built the Money Monster television show set inside that stage."

In the end, Thompson says, the art department was able to design a set that provided ample visual contrast and heightened tension. "The complete set design has two different looks: one for broadcast, with bright colours and nice, even exposures, and the other for film, with a more moody atmosphere and different angles," continues Thompson. "When you cut those together, you can create some tension and dynamic that you don't normally see."

In building the Money Monster television set, Thompson wanted it to resemble a high-caliber production on a large financial news network. "I didn't want the show to feel too small-time," explains Thompson. "Gates is a larger-than-life character with international reach - so the set needed to feel like it was on a major network with a global broadcast platform."

To make the set as realistic as possible, Thompson researched and incorporated various elements found in financial news programs. "Jodie and I talked about colour and how a lot of these shows are all very bright blue," says Thompson. "We wanted Money Monster to be a combination of that blue with the colour of money, and so we have a background that is greenish yellow. We have one large screen so that the whole frame could be filled up with our character in front of a projection. There are tickers, touch-screens, monitors for interviews, graphics and stock tips. For the graphics, we created a library of screen savers to project as needed."

More importantly, the Money Monster set had to be versatile and large enough to give Clooney mobility. "We wanted to have a set with multiple entry points so that Gates could come in from different places so that the show isn't always the same," explains Thompson. "Also, there needed to be plenty of room for Gates' choreographed dance routines."

Partway through the film, the action moves to the headquarters of Ibis Clear Capital, the company whose sudden stock plunge has set the events of the film in motion. "We felt it was important that the location of Ibis Clear Capital should have a modern architecture - all glass, light colours and very bright," says Thompson. It needed to be a symbol of wealth, power and technology."

This is contrasted with the climax of the film, which takes place in the streets of the financial district of lower Manhattan. "When the characters leave the Money Monster set, they walk through the financial district with its neo-classic architecture, built in a time when the financial markets were based on stable business models not technology," continues Thompson. "And then, we culminate in Federal Hall, which is where George Washington was inaugurated as America's first president. Its historic setting with neo-classic columns, beige coloured stone, and monumental scale, creates a feeling that the characters are going back in time, when the model for investing was different."

Connecting all of the pieces of the Money Monster puzzle into a tight cohesive narrative is editor Matt Chessé. "It's a challenging story to put together," says Chessé, who not only cut together the film, but the "Money Monster" show itself. "There was so much footage to work with," he says. "There were three cameras shooting the Money Monster show that I then had to edit to be viewed in several different ways: the public watching the hostage situation unfold; from Julia's character's point of view in the control room, receive it as a live moment; and, selecting the material to make the television show."

"I also had to put the Money Monster movie together," continues Chessé. "I had so many options. It's like a five pronged crown, and I have three prongs of the five that I can maneuver between at any given moment. There are a lot of choices."

To construct the live television sequences, Chessé employed a reactionary, fast-paced editing technique. "I think cutting in live television is a different art form," explains Chessé. "It's very immediate. You have to be ready for the moment. You have to think on your feet, and respond to what's happening in front of you - It's a very gut level response to the imagery. When I'm cutting the footage to reconstruct a live television show, I can't approximate a cut that's too pre-meditated. I have to pretend that Lee has surprised me by going from Camera A to Camera B. I can't anticipate his move. I have to respond to that move, and switch to Camera B. I have to factor in a little bit of a lag time. Essentially, when I am dealing with a live television cut, I have to pretend that I don't have the amount of self-reflexive time that I normally have in the editing room."

For Chessé, the most important element of the editing process is the acting. "With this film there are lots of opportunities to do cool cutting, but from where I come from, editing is very much about the actors, the performance, the dialogue as well as the looks and responses of the people," explains Chessé. "In addition to nailing the energy, pacing and tautness of the story, I wanted to make the most out of pushing the performance as far as I could."

Foster turned to Susan Lyall, her longtime costume designer, to create the look of Money Monster's characters.

For Lee Gates' overall look, Lyall wanted his appearance to reflect his on-air personality and financial success as well as compliment the aesthetics of the Money Monster set design. "I like to sum up Lee Gates' appearance as glitzy elegance," says Lyall. "He wears a silver toned herringbone weave suit with a pronounced stripe and his shirt and tie contain stripes as well. This is not an accident - Gates is someone who can push it a little bit. It's subtle, but it is a little showman-like, and speaks to the financial world."

"Lee's environment on the stage was of paramount importance to choosing what he should wear," adds Lyall. "I was around Kevin Thompson, the production designer, as his team designed the backdrops. The colour on set is very controlled, and when you look at what Lee is wearing, the colours all belong in the same family. They all work together very well."

On the completely opposite side of the spectrum is Patty Fenn, whose look is understated, yet professional. "I saw Julia Roberts' character, Patty Fenn, as a New York City woman who dresses for herself," says Lyall. "She's not trying to impress anyone. She knows who she is, and she is very beloved by her crew, and her clothes impart that. She has a certain downtown chic that is cool and comfortable."

George Clooney (Lee Gates / Producer) is recognised as much for his global humanitarian efforts as he is for his accomplishments in the entertainment industry.

Clooney's achievements as a performer and a filmmaker have earned him two Academy Awards®, four Golden Globes including the Cecil B. DeMille Award, four SAG Awards, one BAFTA award, two Critics' Choice Awards, an Emmy, and four National Board of Review Awards. When Clooney received his eighth Academy Award® nomination, he earned a special spot in the Oscar® record books. He has now been nominated in more categories than anyone else in Oscar® history.

Through his production company Smokehouse Pictures, Clooney will direct the 1950s noir crime drama Suburbicon for Silver Pictures. He will also produce the script by Joel and Ethan Cohen with his Smokehouse partner Grant Heslov and Joel Silver. Clooney will direct and produce Hack Attack through Smokehouse, based on the book by Nick Davies, "Hack Attack: How the Truth Caught Up with Rupert Murdoch".

Most recently through Smokehouse, he produced the Warner Bros. film Our Brand is Crisis and produced, directed and starred in The Monuments Men for Sony Pictures. Clooney also recently stared in the Coen Brothers' Hail, Ceasar!, a Universal Pictures film, in director Alfonso Cuarón's drama Gravity with Sandra Bullock for Warner Bros., Disney's sci-fi film Tomorrowland and Netflix' A Very Murray Christmas.

In 2013, Smokehouse, along with Jean Doumanian Productions, produced a film adaptation of Tracy Letts' Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning play August: Osage County, which starred Meryl Streep, Ewan McGregor, and Julia Roberts for The Weinstein Company.

Other Smokehouse films include Warner Bros' Academy Award® winning drama Argo and The Ides of March. Ides, which Clooney starred in, co-wrote and directed, received Golden Globe nominations for Best Director, Best Screenplay and Best Motion Picture Drama. In addition, the film received an Academy Award® nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay.

In 2011, Clooney starred in Alexander Payne's The Descendants for Fox Searchlight. Clooney won the Critics' Choice Award, Golden Globe Award and National Board of Review Award for Best Actor. In addition, he received a SAG nomination and an Academy Award® nomination for Best Actor in a Leading Role.

In 2009, Clooney starred in the critically acclaimed film Up in the Air. He received an Academy Award® nomination, a Golden Globe nomination, a SAG nomination and a BAFTA nomination for Best Actor for his performance. He also won National Board of Review and New York Film Critics' Circle Awards for Up in the Air.

When Clooney received his Oscar® for Best Supporting Actor for Syriana in 2006, he also earned Academy Award® nominations for Best Director and Best Original Screenplay for Good Night, And Good Luck. It was the first time in Academy history that an individual had received acting and directing nominations for two different films in the same year.

Clooney and Heslov first worked together at Section Eight, a company in which Clooney was partnered with Steven Soderbergh. Section Eight productions included Ocean's 11, Ocean's 12, Ocean's 13, Michael Clayton, The Good German, Good Night, and Good Luck, Syriana, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, The Jacket, Full Frontal and Welcome To Collinwood.

Before his film career, Clooney starred in several television series, becoming best known to TV audiences for his five years on the hit NBC drama ER. His portrayal of Dr. Douglas Ross earned him Golden Globe, SAG, People's Choice and Emmy Award nominations.

For Section Eight's television division, Clooney was an executive producer and directed five episodes of Unscripted, a reality-based show that debuted on HBO. He also was executive producer and cameraman on K Street, another show featured on HBO.

Clooney was also executive producer and co-star of the live television broadcast of Fail-Safe, an Emmy-winning telefilm developed through his Maysville Pictures. Fail-Safe was nominated for a 2000 Golden Globe Award as Best Miniseries or Motion Picture Made for Television. The telefilm was based on the early 1960s novel of the same name.

Clooney is a strong First Amendment advocate with a deep commitment to humanitarian causes. In 2006, Clooney and his father, Nick, went to drought-stricken Darfur, Africa, to film the documentary Journey to Darfur. Clooney's work on behalf of Darfur relief led to his addressing the United Nations Security Council. He also narrated the Darfur documentary Sand and Sorrow. In 2006, he received the American Cinematheque Award and the Modern Master Award from the Santa Barbara Film Festival.

In 2007, George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Don Cheadle and Jerry Weintraub founded Not On Our Watch, an organization whose mission is to focus global attention and resources to stop and prevent mass atrocities in Darfur.

Among the many honours received as a result of his humanitarian efforts in Darfur, one of them was the 2007 Peace Summit Award, given at the eighth World Summit of Nobel Peace Prize Laureates. In 2008, Clooney was designated a U.N. Messenger of Peace, one of eight individuals chosen to advocate on behalf of the U.N. and its peacekeeping efforts.

In January of 2010, Clooney, along with Joel Gallen and Tenth Planet Productions, produced the Hope for Haiti Now! telethon, which raised more than $66 million, setting a new record for donations made by the public through a disaster-relief telethon.

The Academy of Television Arts and Sciences awarded Clooney with the Bob Hope Humanitarian Award at the 2010 Primetime Emmys. Later that year, Clooney received the Robert F. Kennedy Ripple of Hope Award for his dedication to humanitarian efforts in Sudan and Haiti.

In December of 2010, Clooney, along with the United Nations, Harvard University and Google, launched The Satellite Sentinel Project, an effort to monitor violence and human-rights violations between Southern and Northern Sudan. Not on Our Watch funds new monitoring technology, which allows private satellites to take photographs of any potential threats to civilians, detect bombs, observe the movement of troops and note any other evidence of possible mass violence.

In March of 2012, Clooney was part of the delegation that peacefully demonstrated in front of the Sudanese Embassy in Washington, D.C., calling worldwide attention to the human-rights violations being committed in Sudan, which resulted in his arrest.

In October of 2012, Clooney was the honoree at the Carousel of Hope Ball, which benefits the Children's Diabetes Foundation and the Barbara Davis Center for Childhood Diabetes (BDC).

An Academy Award® winner for Erin Brockovich, Julia Roberts (Patty Fenn) has appeared in many of Hollywood's most successful films and worked with the industry's most esteemed directors; her films have grossed more than $2.5 billion worldwide. She first came to the attention of audiences with her critically acclaimed role in Mystic Pizza. Then, with Steel Magnolias, she received her first Academy Award® nomination. Her next film, Pretty Woman, was the top-grossing film of 1990 and brought Roberts her second Academy Award® nomination. Her memorable performance in that film was followed by a series of notable films including Flatliners, Sleeping with the Enemy, Dying Young, The Pelican Brief and Something to Talk About.

Roberts also starred with Liam Neeson in Neil Jordan's Michael Collins, and in Woody Allen's romantic musical comedy Everyone Says I Love You. In 1997, she starred in the box-office smash My Best Friend's Wedding, directed by P.J. Hogan and the Richard Donner-directed thriller Conspiracy Theory, co-starring Mel Gibson. Roberts starred opposite Susan Sarandon and Ed Harris in the Chris Columbus film Stepmom. In 1999, she starred in two box-office hits: Notting Hill, costarring Hugh Grant and directed by Roger Michell; and Runaway Bride, in which she reteamed with her Pretty Woman costar and director, Richard Gere and Garry Marshall.

Since 2000's Erin Brockovich, she has appeared in Mona Lisa Smile and America's Sweethearts, both from Revolution Studios. She has starred in three films by director Stephen Soderbergh: Ocean's Eleven, Ocean's Twelve and Full Frontal. She also appeared with her Ocean's costar Brad Pitt in The Mexican, directed by Gore Verbinski. And she starred in Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, the directorial debut of her Ocean's costar George Clooney. She has worked with director Mike Nichols on both Closer and Charlie Wilson's War.

Roberts provided the voice of Charlotte in the animated film Charlotte's Web and made her Broadway debut in Richard Greenberg's Three Days of Rain.

In March of 2009, Roberts starred next to Clive Owen in Duplicity, directed by Tony Gilroy. Julia appeared in Valentine's Day, directed by Garry Marshall, released on February 12, 2010. Roberts starred in Eat, Pray, Love, based on the best-selling memoir "Eat, Pray, Love" by Elizabeth Gilbert. The movie, directed by Ryan Murphy, was released in the summer of 2010. Roberts starred as the evil queen in Mirror Mirror (March 2012).

She received another Academy Award® nomination - as well as nominations for a Golden Globe Award, a Screen Actors Guild Award and a Critics' Choice Award - for her part in August: Osage County (December 2013). Roberts received Emmy and Screen Actors Guild Award nominations for her role in The Normal Heart, which premiered on HBO in May 2014. Most recently, Roberts starred in The Secret In Their Eyes, directed by Billy Ray and also starred Nicole Kidman and Chiwetel Ejiofor (November 2015).

Roberts will be appearing in the upcoming film Mother's Day, directed by Garry Marshall.

Jack O'Connell's (Kyle Budwell) career has gone from strength to strength, winning the EE Rising Star Award at the 2015 BAFTA Awards, the New Hollywood Award at the 2015 Hollywood Film Awards and becoming one of the UK's most versatile and exciting actors.

O'Connell has recently finished shooting new film HHhH in which he stars as a Czech resistance fighter alongside Jack Reynor, Mia Wasikowska, Rosamund Pike and Jason Clarke. Based on the debut novel of French author Laurent Binet, the film is directed by Cedric Jimenez and recounts Operation Anthropoid, the assassination of Nazi leader Reinhard Heydrich in Prague during World War II. He will also be seen starring in the Weinsteins' Tulip Fever, a 17th century set romantic drama opposite Dane DeHaan, Alicia Vikander and Holliday Grainger.

O'Connell received rave reviews when he returned to the stage leading the cast in Richard Bean's The Nap at The Crucible Theatre in Sheffield. The play was directed by Richard Wilson and Jack played central character, Dylan.

In 2014, O'Connell took the lead role in Angelina Jolie's Unbroken, portraying American Olympian and World War II POW survivor Louis Zamperini. Based on the book "Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption" by Laura Hillenbrand, the film chronicles the life of the athlete who survived in a raft for 47 days after his bomber was downed before being sent to a series of Japanese prisoner of war camps.

2014 also saw him star in '71, for which he was nominated for a British Independent Film Award. The thriller based on the troubles in Belfast was screened at Toronto, Tribeca and New York Film Festivals and was in competition at the Berlin Film Festival. He was also seen starring in David Mackenzie's Film 4-backed Starred Up, for which he was nominated in the category of Best Actor at this year's BAFTA Scotland Awards. At the same awards, Starred Up received the Best Feature Film Award. The gritty prison based father-son drama, in which he played young prisoner Eric opposite Rupert Friend, premiered to great acclaim at the Toronto Film Festival, and also screened at the London, Tribeca and LA Film Festivals. The role also earned O'Connell a 2013 British Independent Film Award nomination for Best Actor and contributed towards his nomination for the South Bank Sky Arts Times Breakthrough Award.

In early 2014, O'Connell featured in the role of Calisto in 300: Rise of an Empire, the prequel to Warner Bros.' epic 300. In 2012, audiences saw him as lead character Charlie Peaceful in Pat O'Connor's Private Peaceful. This adaptation of Michael Morpurgo's novel follows the rites of passage of two brothers in the early 20th century. He also starred as Kurtis in thriller Tower Block, alongside other British talent including Sheridan Smith and Russell Tovey, and as Adam in thriller The Liability. In 2013, O'Connell reprised the character he played in Skins in the feature Skins Rise, charting the development of his character since the last time viewers saw him.

2011 saw O'Connell star in both film and television. In The Runaway he starred as Eamonn in the critically acclaimed Sky drama alongside Keith Allen and Alan Cumming. In the same year, he starred as Bobby Charlton in United, the BBC Two dramatization of the 1958 Munich Air Crash. For film, he played the role of Dylan in Karl Golden's Weekender. Following the wild adventures of two friends who move from Manchester's rave scene to the clubs of Ibiza, the film soon takes a sinister turn.

In 2006, O'Connell had his film debut with the role of Pukey in the controversial and critically acclaimed British film This is England. He followed this up with role of villain Brett in James Watkins' horror film Eden Lake, in which he appeared opposite with Michael Fassbender and Kelly Reilly. In 2009, he won the role of Marky in Daniel Barber's crime thriller Harry Brown, and later starred in TV movies Wuthering Heights and Dive, directed by Dominic Savage.

O'Connell's theatre credits include Scarborough at the Royal Court, The Spidermen, The Musicians, and Just.

Dominic West (Walt Camby) has successfully combined a career in both the UK and the US, with leading roles in international film, American television and on the London stage. After graduating from Trinity College Dublin and then from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London, West won the Ian Charleson award for Best Newcomer for his performance in Sir Peter Hall's production of The Seagull.

A very successful film career soon followed with West winning leading roles in studio movies including 28 Days opposite Sandra Bullock; Mona Lisa Smile, with Julia Roberts; and The Forgotten, with Julianne Moore. He also starred as Theron in Warner Bros.' 300. Further credits include Chicago, A Midsummer Night's Dream, True Blue, Hannibal Rising, Rock Star, The Phantom Menace, Surviving Picasso and Richard III.

In 2000, he won the role of McNulty in HBO's The Wire, one of the most critically acclaimed television programs ever made in the U.S. The show ran for five seasons, with West directing an episode in the final season.

His theatre credits include Peter Gill's production of Harley Granville Barker's The Voysey Inheritance at the Royal National Theatre; David Lan's West End production of As You Like It, in which he starred opposite Helen McCrory; and Trevor Nunn's West End production of Tom Stoppard's Rock N' Roll, which opened to huge plaudits at The Royal Court Theatre in summer 2006.

In 2008, he played Oliver Cromwell in Channel 4's BAFTA-nominated television series The Devil's Whore. He then went on to do Pedro Calderon de la Barca's Life Is a Dream at the Donmar Warehouse in London, followed by Centurion directed by Neil Marshall and also starring Micahel Fassbender.

West starred in the 2011 film The Awakening, the box office hit Johnny English Reborn, ITV's critically acclaimed miniseries Appropriate Adult, for which he won a TV BAFTA, as well as The Hour by Abi Morgan, for which West was nominated for a Golden Globe. On the stage in 2011, West captivated audiences as the title role in Butley at the Duchess Theatre as well as sharing the stage with his Wire co-star Clarke Peters in Othello at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield.

2012 saw West reprise his role as Hector Madden in the second season of The Hour and he starred in The River, the new Jez Butterworth play, at The Royal Court.

In 2013, West returned to Sheffield to appear in My Fair Lady at The Crucible. He then went on to film as Richard Burton in a BBC4 drama, starring opposite Helena Bonham Carter as Elizabeth Taylor. 2014 saw the release of Matthew Warchus' Pride, which opened at the Cannes Film Festival to critical and audience acclaim, and Testament of Youth alongside Alicia Vikander. He also appears in the Golden Globe Winning US series The Affair alongside Ruth Wilson, Maura Tearney and Joshua Jackson, which he reprised this summer. The start of 2016 saw West finish his run alongside Janet McTeer in Christopher Hampton's Les Liaisons Dangereuses, directed by Josie Rourke for the Donmar Warehouse.

Irish-born actress Caitriona Balfe (Diane Lester) has received critical acclaim as the series lead in the Starz/Sony drama series Outlander, created by Ron Moore and based on the best-selling books of the same name by Diana Gabaldon. Most recently, Balfe was nominated for a 2016 Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series - Drama, and Outlander was nominated for Best Television Series - Drama. Balfe is the centerpiece of the series opposite Sam Heughan. Outlander has been deemed a game-changer for the network, introducing her as a strong female heroine into a genre commonly dominated by male antiheroes. The second season returned in the U.S. on April 9, 2016, and was the highest rated series season premiere for the network thus far.

In feature films, Balfe was most recently seen in Escape Plan for Summit/Lionsgate, opposite Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone. Previous credits include the Warner Bros. feature Now You See Me directed by Louis Leterrier, J.J. Abrams' Paramount feature Super 8, and Bryan Singer and Jason Taylor's limited digital series H+.

Balfe currently resides in London and Los Angeles.

Giancarlo Esposito (Captain Powell) is a celebrated film, television and stage actor, director, and producer, whose career spans to nearly five decades and in 2014 was honored with a Star on the prestigious Hollywood Walk of Fame.

In 2015, Esposito starred in the worldwide hit The Scorch Trials, the sequel to 20th Century Fox's blockbuster action franchise The Maze Runner, where he plays Jorge, a leader of a group of survivors known as the Cranks. His character appears in the third book of Maze Runner trilogy, The Death Cure, which is currently in production.

Esposito is well known by television audiences for his iconic portrayal of drug kingpin Gustavo Gus Fring in AMC's critically acclaimed award-winning series Breaking Bad, for which he won the 2012 Critics Choice Award and earned a 2012 Emmy nomination as well.

Most recently, Esposito reteamed with visionary director Jon Favreau for the remake of Disney's blockbuster hit The Jungle Book, where he voices Akela, leader of the wolf pack. In the film, he costars with Bill Murray, Lupita Nyong'o, Christopher Walken, Ben Kingsley, Scarlett Johansson and Idris Elba.

He returns to television next year with a recurring role in Baz Luhrmann's highly anticipated Netflix series The Get Down, which looks at the birth of hip hop in New York in the 1970s. Other television credits include Revolution, Community, Once Upon a Time, Homicide: Life on The Streets, Law and Order, Bakersfield PD, Touched by an Angel, and Kidnapped.

Esposito has an array of upcoming films, including his second directorial feature, This Is Your Death. He recently wrapped production on James Franco's The Long Home, based on the William Gay novel of the same name. The film is set to release in 2017.

Esposito's most memorable performances can be seen in films such as Rabbit Hole, The Usual Suspects, Smoke and The Last Holiday. He has performed in in Spike Lee's films Do the Right Thing, Mo' Better Blues, School Daze and Malcolm X. Esposito's other film credits include Poker Night, Alex Cross, SherryBaby, Ali, Nothing to Lose, Waiting to Exhale, Bob Roberts, King of New York and Cotton Club. In 1995, Esposito was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for his work in Fresh.

Under his production company, Quiet Hand Productions, Esposito made his feature directorial debut with the film Gospel Hill, which won over nine awards at various acclaimed film festivals. In the film, he co-starred with Danny Glover, Angela Bassett, Julia Stiles, Taylor Kitsch and Samuel L. Jackson. Quiet Hand Productions aspires to make conscious content films that focus on the inspirational. Esposito plans to direct, produce and star in the independent historical drama Political Treason, the story of abolitionist John Brown, as well as play Fredrick Douglass opposite four-time Academy Award® nominee Ed Harris.

Esposito's notable experiences extend to Broadway as well. In 2012, he starred in Atlantic Theatre Company's world premiere of Storefront Church, which was the final installment of the trilogy Church & State. Esposito won two Obie Awards for Zooman and The Sign at the Negro Ensemble Company and Distant Fires at The Atlantic Theatre Company, where he continues to perform and teach as a company member. His list of Broadway credits includes productions of Sacrilege, Seesaw, Merrily We Roll Along and Lost In The Stars to name a few. He also co-starred on Broadway with James Earl Jones, Terrence Howard and Phylicia Rashad in Debbie Allen's rendition of the great classic Tennessee Williams play Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.

Esposito is an avid yoga enthusiast and spends his free time riding his motorcycle and practicing the saxophone. He lends his support to various charitable organizations that support the arts and education, including the Waterkeeper Alliance, Kids for Peace & World Merit USA.

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