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When Jodie Foster set out to direct Money Monster, she was more concerned with getting the story right than landing a star-studded cast. But when she reached out to George Clooney to gauge his interest, he signed on immediately — and brought Julia Roberts with him. “It was really just one of those great presents from the sky,” Foster says. “I was happy to make the movie for 20 cents, however we could get it off the ground.”
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In Money Monster, Clooney headlines as Lee Gates, a smarmy TV host dispensing financial advice and showmanship, with Roberts in his ear as his quick-witted producer, Patty Fenn. But when a viewer named Kyle Budwell (Unbroken’s Jack O’Connell) bets his life savings on a bad tip from Gates, the man storms the studio with a gun and a bomb, demanding answers on live TV. What follows is a tense standoff between Kyle, the studio staff, and the NYPD, as Gates tries to figure out what went wrong with the supposedly foolproof investment — and Fenn tries to keep them all alive.
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The idea of working with Foster wasn't a hard sell on Clooney. "She sent me a really beautiful letter that just said, 'Let’s go have some fun.' I loved the script, and I wanted to work with Jodie," Clooney says.
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“I loved that [the story of Money Monster] was in real time,” Foster says. “And it felt really relevant about technology and how that intersects with entertainment and news and our lives.”
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"I thought [the Money Monster script] was so good and complicated, but really about humanity and how we’re all kind of searching. I was knocked out," Roberts says. The actress and Clooney have few scenes together – which may have been a selling point for Roberts. "That was in my contract," she jokingly says.
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Who’s more qualified to make a movie about fame and media than Foster, Clooney, and Roberts? The three global superstars sat down on a recent rainy day in Studio City, Calif., to talk with PEOPLE and EW editorial director Jess Cagle (pictured with the trio) about their new movie, their families, and their decades-long relationship with the spotlight.
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Roberts, on how she prepared for her role in Money Monster: "The first time I went to sit in a control room — it was at a local CBS New York news show — it was a small space with a lot of people and a lot of buttons and a lot of screens, and it was fascinating. The people were very open to all my inquiries and wonderments. I was just kind of watching things and thinking, 'Oh, I’m going to steal that.' "
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Foster, on dealing with fame for her entire life: "Having the opportunity to have a real creative path — that has saved my life, knowing that I had a place to think and to feel and to make good work. So, yeah, growing up as a film actor... I don’t see the downside to it. Maybe I was like the astronaut who could handle the gravity."
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Clooney, on why he wanted to direct: "I have a real understanding of what being famous is. If you’re lucky, you get a 10-year career. Sometimes you get luckier, and every once in a while you get really lucky. I didn’t want to be 55 and worried about what some studio executive thinks about how I look or how I play anymore. I wanted to have more control over my career."
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