Washington plays reporter Gray Grantham in the crime drama The Pelican Brief. A law student, played by Julia Roberts, writes a legal brief about the motives behind the killings of two Supreme Court justices. A failed assassination attempt on her life validates the accuracy of her brief. She teams up with Grantham as they both try to find evidence of the truth. On accepting the role:
They just asked me to do it. I said, ‘Hey, this is a no-brainer.’ I got to ride the Julia machine. Julia’s a moneymaking machine.