Tony Gilroy was initially hired to write the fourth Bourne movie, a job that eventually transformed into a full-fledged director’s gig. But when Gilroy steps behind the lens on The Bourne Legacy, Matt Damon won’t be anywhere in sight — and, subsequently, Jason Bourne himself won’t have a role to play either.
Still, the franchise lives on, even without its leading man behind the driver’s seat. Gilroy spoke extensively about the project with Deadline, saying that he came up with an idea for how to pursue a sequel that doesn’t replace Damon and still keeps the original trilogy’s continuity firmly intact. From his point of view, it’s a way to keep the Bourne franchise alive without Bourne himself, while still leaving the door open for Damon’s eventual return.
The details, according to Gilroy himself:
Matt was completely not an option, and personally I couldn’t imagine trying to replace him. All the conspiratorial politics aside, these are very un-cynical, honest movies, and I don’t know another actor who brings more integrity and dignity, and a lack of cynicism to his work than Matt. I told them, ‘I don’t have anything for you.’ I’d never seen the third movie, but went home and watched it. Awhile later, I had a slender idea, at least a way to attack the problem. We made a deal that was basically, ‘If you want to put me on for a couple of weeks to figure this out and go exploring in the hills, I can’t tell you what I’ll find but I’ll tell you where I’ll dig. And then I hit a vein, and ended up delivering way more than I thought. I came up with the whole thing and if it wasn’t a swinging idea, I wouldn’t have signed on to direct. It feels good, fresh, but quite honestly, a Bourne kind of movie. I brought in my brother Dan, we started off together as a team. I’m not going to get into the plot, but you saw the other three films, you know everything that happened, and it’s not a dream sequence. What I can say is, you thought that was the whole world, but it was a small piece of what was going on. Ultimatum exploded at the end with people arrested. We deal with that as a reality, it has ramifications that echo out into the larger world. And of course, Jason Bourne is still alive and out there in the world. I don’t want to go beyond that, because the last thing I need is for every blogger to be second guessing.
I think we in the blogosphere have more than enough to keep second guessing, Mr. Gilroy, but I’ll refrain for now — there’s a lot to chew on here, and it’s early in the morning. Short version: I like where Gilroy’s head is at. Replacing Damon is not an ideal option but finding a way around him with a new actor and character is interesting, to say the least. Let’s see how casting shakes out, but my curiosity is definitely piqued.