When Jodie Foster set out to direct her fourth film, 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.”

The result is Money Monster (out Friday), a taut financial thriller that unites three of the biggest names in Hollywood. Between the three of them, they have 16 Oscar nominations and a combined 110 years in show business, and each has a resume boasting some of the biggest blockbusters and critical hits of all time. So for this week’s issue of Entertainment Weekly, PEOPLE and EW editorial director Jess Cagle sat down with the starry trio for a wide-ranging conversation about their new movie, their families, and their decades-long relationship with the spotlight.

“For each of us, the measure of our work isn’t the measure of who we are,” Roberts says. “We have super-cool jobs, but we’re all going about our lives in the fashion that most people do: with integrity and kindness and, hopefully, a certain amount of privacy.”

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.

“I loved that [the story] was in real time,” Foster says. “And it felt really relevant about technology and how that intersects with entertainment and news and our lives.”

Besides, who’s more qualified to make a movie about fame and media than Foster, Clooney, and Roberts? To continue reading more on Money Monster, pick up the new issue of Entertainment Weekly, on newsstands Friday, or buy it here – and subscribe now for more exclusive interviews and photos, only in EW.

Money Monster
  • Movie
  • 98 minutes