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The Pelican Brief (1993) Poster

Trivia

F. Denton Voyles is the FBI Director in most of John Grisham's books which involve the FBI.
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Filmed in sequence.
John Grisham wrote the part of Darby Shaw with Julia Roberts in mind. Roberts read the book once it was finished, and agreed to the role without even seeing a script.
Paul Rudd named his daughter after Julia Roberts character Darby.
For the scenes inside the White House, the sets created for Dave (1993) were used.
The rights to "The Pelican Brief" were bought before the book was written. When John Grisham released a sample from the book, the movie rights were purchased on the spot.
Darby and Callahan discuss Bowers v. Hardwick, a real Supreme Court case that ultimately upheld a state's right to make homosexual activity illegal. Darby passionately argues that the Supreme Court was wrong. In 2003, the Supreme Court ruled in Lawrence v. Texas that such laws were unconstitutional.
Director Alan J. Pakula pulled a prank on the set, involving the then-couple Julia Roberts and Lyle Lovett. Roberts was filming a scene where she is supposed to talk on the phone with the character played by John Heard. Pakula sent Heard's lines to Lovett (who was touring and away from where the film was being made), allowing him to speak to his wife. Roberts played the scene normally, though she didn't recognized the voice over the phone. It was only after Pakula yelled "Cut!" that she learned that it was Lovett who was acting with her.
The Georgetown Law library scenes were filmed on location, in the main reading room and one of the study rooms on the third floor. In addition, the scenes at the Registrar's Office and the Career Services Office, and of Denzel Washington and Julia Roberts talking in an open area outside of those offices, were all shot in the main building of the Law Center (McDonough Hall). You can see Georgetown Law security officers as extras, in the background of those scenes.
The President questions Coal's idea of addressing the nation while wearing a cardigan sweater; this is based on a real-life incident in which then-president Jimmy Carter addressed the nation in a cardigan during the height of the fuel shortages in the 1970s.
The characters that Julia Roberts and Denzel Washington play in the film, become lovers in Grisham's novel. Although Roberts was interested in bringing that romance to the screen, Washington disagreed, and felt that the target audiences did not want to see an interracial romance. Thus, the romance never takes place in the film.
The two main stars, Julia Roberts and Denzel Washington, do not appear on screen together until an hour and 8 minutes into the movie.
John Grisham said that he wasn't pleased with the casting of Denzel Washington as Gray Grantham, but never made it clear why.
To research his role as reporter Gray Grantham, Denzel Washington spent time with Washington Post editors and reporters.
The Region 1 and Region 4 DVD release was a flip sided disc that contained the movie split into two parts. You had to eject the disc and turn it over to continue watching. When the Blu-ray disc was released on February 10th, 2009 it was the first time since its VHS release that somebody could watch the movie straight through without stopping it.
Although the Tulane Law School has moved to a new building since this film was released, the room where Julia Roberts and Sam Shepard meet for class early in the movie is still a classroom: Jones Hall Room 102.
There were scenes filmed of Verheek (John Heard) in D.C., showing his colleagues 'The Pelican Brief'. These were cut from the final film, but a brief glimpse of them is still visible in the theatrical trailer.
FBI Director Denton Voyles also appeared in the John Grisham adaptation The Firm (1993), in which he was played by Steven Hill.
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Denzel Washington's character, Gray Grantham, is a white guy in the novel.
Supreme Court Justices are protected by a separate police department, and by the U.S. Marshal Service, not by the FBI, as indicated in the beginning of the story.
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One of three movies that feature Julia Roberts and Sam Shepard in the same cast. The other two movies are Steel Magnolias (1989) and August: Osage County (2013).
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The suspenseful underscoring played during the bank/parking garage scene (with chaotic piano track) is reused in "Apollo 13" (1995) when the crew attempts to build a filter. James Horner is the composer for both films.
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The production "inherited" its set of Panavision E-Series anamorphic lenses from Natural Born Killers (1994), after that film's director, Oliver Stone, decided to shoot in standard 1.85:1 instead.
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Director Voyles' greeting to Darby Shaw, "So you're the little lady that started this great brouhaha", is likely an allusion to President Lincoln's famous (apocryphal) greeting to Harriet Beecher Stowe (who wrote "Uncle Tom's Cabin"): "So you're the little woman who wrote the book that made this great war".
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Gray Grantham and Smith Keen secretly meet at the house of George and Martha Washington in Mount Vernon, Virginia. Denzel Washington was born in Mount Vernon, New York.
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Both Sam Shepard and John Heard died in July 2017. Their deaths were just 6 days apart.
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Denzel Washington and John Lithgow starred in Ricochet (1991).
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The cast includes two Oscar winners: Julia Roberts and Denzel Washington; and four Oscar nominees: John Lithgow, Stanley Tucci, Hume Cronyn, and Sam Shepard.
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Tony Goldwyn, who plays the White House chief of staff, Fletcher Coal, went on to play the President of the United States in the television show Scandal (2012).
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The first of three films, based on novels by John Grisham, in which Anthony Heald appears. The other two are The Client (1994) and A Time at Kill (1996).
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Darby's friend in law school, Alice, is played by Cynthia Nixon. Cynthia is best known for her role as Miranda Hobbs in the Sex and the City TV series and movies. Miranda is a lawyer.
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One of three films directed by Alan J. Pakula and starring Hume Cronyn. They also collaborated in The Parallax View (1974) and Rollover (1981).
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Spoilers 

The trivia items below may give away important plot points.

Victor Mattiece, the main villain, never appears in the film.
The television show that John Heard's character is watching, when he is shot (and blood splatters on the screen), is Coach (1989), a situation comedy about football. Nine years later, Heard starred in Monday Night Mayhem (2002), a television movie about football.
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