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Inside the new thriller "Secret in Their Eyes" with Chiwetel Ejiofor

How far would you go to right a wrong for a friend? A lover? Or a child? That is one of the underlying themes explored in the new thriller "Secret in Their Eyes," featuring an all-star cast that includes Julia Roberts, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Nicole Kidman.

The film is based on the 2009 Argentine drama directed by Juan Jose Campanella, which took home an Oscar that year for Best Foreign Language film. The American remake centers on a team of rising young FBI investigators whose lives are shattered following the unexpected murder of the daughter of Julia Roberts' character, Jess.

Scenes throughout the movie alternate between the time immediately after the brutal murder and 13 years into the future, as Jess' partner Ray (Ejiofor) adamantly searches for her killer.

Ray, who after 13 years still feels partially responsible for the girl's murder, returns because he has finally found a new lead in the case. He is met with both a seemingly defeated and distraught Jess, and his former love interest Claire (Kidman) who has taken over as district attorney and has little interest in reopening the case.

The challenge of playing these characters in two time periods -- 2002 and 2015 -- was part of what appealed most to Ejiofor when he was approached about the role.

"It was fascinating to break down a character in terms of how they would change and how they would be affected in a time period where a lot of it is internal," he told CBS News. "It's not like you are talking about somebody over 50 years where sort of everything has changed, but just the way 13 years of their lives collapsed with the weight of this obsession. In a strange way, its a long time and a short time, that's the kind of complication of it."

Director and screenwriter Billy Ray ("Captain Phillips," "The Hunger Games") was a fan of the original film -- a love story about a man who loses his wife -- but wanted this version to draw audiences in emotionally for different reasons. One thing they did was change the character Roberts plays from a man to woman.

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Julia Roberts and Chiwetel Ejofor in "Secret in Their Eyes." Karen Ballard/STX Entertainment

"She read the part when it was still a man, and her one request was that the body in the dumpster should not be someone's wife, but her daughter," the director explains to CBS News. Aside from that "she didn't want any other changes in the script, no behavioral changes, and so that's what we did. And it had a seismic effect on the rest of the movie."

"Secret in Their Eyes" is the second major release from STX Entertainment. The movie also stars Dean Norris, Michael Kelley, Alfred Molina, Joe Cole and Zoe Graham.

It opens in theaters on Nov. 20.

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