Screenwriter Tony Gilroy (most notably of the Jason Bourne franchise) admits he’d never directed anything before, much less a major studio film. But helming “Michael Clayton” was not such a daunting task. After all, says Gilroy, “It’s the family business.”

From his early teenage years, when he worked as a production assistant on his father’s debut film “Desperate Characters” (which won Frank Gilroy a screenplay prize at 1971’s Berlin Film Festival), “I had been around movie sets for most of my life,” Gilroy says. “There weren’t a lot of mysteries about how things worked.”

His smooth transition from writing to directing was all about having the right cast and crew, he says. “The better people you have around you, the better chance you have of everything working out.” For his part, Gilroy says he just tries to be “calm and very well prepared.”

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Whatever shape Gilroy’s directing career takes, he hopes to replicate the same elements in his written stories as his work behind the camera. “If there’s any consistent (approach), I like to start very small and work my way out,” he says. “I’m much happier making something simple complicated than taking something complicated and making it simple.”

Gilroy has already gained the trust of several high-powered folks in Hollywood, among them “Michael Clayton” star George Clooney. “I’d follow him anywhere. He has a great eye, a great talent for storytelling,” says the actor, “and he shoots with a point of view.”

The Gotham-born writer-director also has Universal Pictures backing his next helming endeavor, “Duplicity,” which he describes as a “romance set against the world of corporate espionage,” starring Clive Owen and Julia Roberts. His script for it languished without a greenlight until “Clayton” became a success.

And if the white-collar territory sounds familiar, Gilroy maintains, “It’s very different in every way from ‘Michael Clayton’: the palette, the temperature, the vibe” — more Billy Wilder than Alan Pakula. Still, he admits, “We are back in the city scouting office buildings again.”

INSPIRED BY: “I don’t even know where to begin. I like great storytelling, the Billy Wilders, the John Hustons, the Stanley Kubricks; it’s everything from ‘8½’ to ‘It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World,’ from Michael Mann to Ken Loach.”
REPS: Agents, David O’Connor and Risa Gertner (CAA); attorney, Craig Emanuel (Loeb and Loeb)