On the one hand: great! Michael Clayton is an icon, so imagining it being different is an exercise in chewing tinfoil.
On the other hand, learning how the sausage gets made is mindboggling here, particularly when an alternate universe got to see an Alec Baldwin-starring version of the movie come out just as the Iraq War got rolling. Gilroy told Maron that he spent 6 years trying to get Michael Clayton made, and at one point had Baldwin and Ben Kingsley paired up on a streamlined, $11 million version in the early 2000s. Throughout the rewrite process, he also circled a dozen different plots and situations for Clayton to deal with, driving himself crazy with doubt about what the movie was even supposed to be.
From what we can tell, this may be the first time the potential Baldwin version has been made public, but Gilroy also spoke about how Denzel Washington was close to starring as well. Missing out on the project is something Washington has lamented openly.
“With Clayton, it was the best material I had read in a long time, but I was nervous about a first-time director, and I was wrong. It happens,” Washington told GQ in 2012.
It’s easy to look back with regret, but at the time it wasn’t a sure thing that the writer behind the Bourne movies could also direct. Turns out he really, really could. Fortunately for all involved (in this universe), we got George Clooney giving a career-defining performance in one of the best films of the aughts.
Gilroy’s latest is Andor, which takes place in a galaxy far, far away. So it probably got the Baldwin version.