Julia Roberts in ''The Pelican Brief'' | EW.com

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Julia Roberts in ''The Pelican Brief''

Julia Roberts in ''The Pelican Brief'' -- The actress has just wrapped up last-minute filming in Montecito, Ca

Talk about cutting it close. Just three weeks before The Pelican Brief’s scheduled Dec. 17 release date, its star, Julia Roberts, was in Montecito, Calif., reshooting the closing scene of the movie, which is based on the zillion-selling John Grisham novel.

While last-minute filming is often a sign of trouble, a source says the Nov. 27-28 shoot had less to do with jitters over the plot than with finding time in Roberts’ jammed schedule. ”She had only a week off between shooting The Pelican Brief in September and starting [her next film] I Love Trouble in Chicago,” says the source. ”It was really a case of trying to figure out when she could do it.”

But Roberts’ costar, Denzel Washington, was noticeably absent, suggesting that the movie’s ending will differ from the book’s (we already know we won’t be seeing the highly anticipated love scene between the sexy duo). Warner Bros. would not comment on the final shot, but director Alan J. Pakula (Presumed Innocent), known as an especially thorough craftsman, is said to have been contemplating the new ending for weeks. According to the source, this finale is ”in the same spirit” of Grisham’s heated closer and features heroine Darby Shaw (Roberts) at a beach resort, watching Gray Grantham (Washington) on television.