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The Pelican Brief Details


Embroiled in an affair with Thomas Callahan (Sam Shephard), her alcoholic professor, precocious 24-year-old Tulane University law student Darby Shaw (Julia Roberts) writes up an insightful theory about the recent murder of two Supreme Court justices, one of whom, Abraham Rosenberg (Hume Cronyn), served as Callahan's mentor. When Callahan shares this so-called "Pelican Brief" with buddy Gavin Verheek (John Heard), an FBI lawyer, the document makes its way to White House flack Fletcher Coal (Tony Goldwyn), who believes it could topple the current administration. When Callahan is murdered and the President (Robert Culp) convinces the FBI to hold off on investigating Darby's theory, the resourceful student must go into hiding, stalked by relentless assassin Khamel (Stanley Tucci). Her only hope of escaping Callahan's fate and proving her theory lies in Washington investigative reporter Gray Grantham (Denzel Washington), who's already had one confidential source back out of sharing information about the assassinations. This John Grisham adaptation is generally faithful to the best-selling novel. Fans of HBO's Sex and the City will notice one of its future stars, Cynthia Nixon, in a small role as one of Darby's New Orleans classmates. ~ Brian J. Dillard, Rovi

  • Release date:December 17, 1993


Julia Roberts
as Darby Shaw
Denzel Washington
as Gray Grantham
Sam Shepard
as Thomas Callahan
John Heard
as Gavin Verheek
Tony Goldwyn
as Fletcher Coal
James B. Sikking
as FBI Director F. Denton Voyles
William Atherton
as Bob Gminski
Robert Culp
as The President
Stanley Tucci
as Khamel
Hume Cronyn
as Justice Abraham Rosenberg
John Lithgow
as Smith Keen
Carol Sutton
as New Orleans Policewoman
Kevin Geer
as K.O. Lewis
Tom Quinn
as Sara Ann Morgan's Father
Cynthia Nixon
as Alice Stark
John Finn
as Matthew Barr
Anthony Heald
as Marty Velmano
Nicholas Woodeson
as Stump
Casey Biggs
as Eric East
Christopher Murray
as Rupert
Richard Bauer
as Managing Editor
Harold Surratt
as Parklane Security Officer
Stanley Anderson
as Edwin Sneller
Edwin Newman
as Himself
Alixe Gordin
Joseph Chrest
as Song & Dance Man from Bar
Ralph Cosham
as Justice Jensen
Jake Weber
as Charles Morgan/Garcia


Alan J. Pakula
Alan J. Pakula
Pieter Jan Brugge
Alan J. Pakula
John Grisham
John Grisham
Book Author
Stephen Goldblatt
Danny Gould
James Horner
Composer (Music Score)
Trudy Ship
Tom Rolf
Philip Rosenberg
Production Designer
Robert Guerra
Art Director
Rick Simpson
Set Designer
Lisa Fischer
Set Designer
Monroe Kelly
Set Designer
Sarah Stollman
Set Designer
Albert Wolsky
Costume Designer
John Rusk
First Assistant Director
Peter Kohn
First Assistant Director
Dick Mingalone
Camera Operator
Alixe Gordin
Robert "Bobby Z" Zajonc