For the last two and a half years, the desire to do another Jason Bourne movie after the success of The Bourne Ultimatum has been fairly pervasive, especially for Universal Studios ever since it became a global hit. A little over a year ago, producer Frank Marshall hinted they were trying to get another installment off the ground for the summer of 2011, but things seemed to fall apart. We won’t recap the entire back and forth about will-they-or-won’t-they but when Paul Greengrass walked away from doing a fourth movie last fall, Damon followed suit and then over the course of doing press for Clint Eastwood’s Invictus was asked repeatedly about what’s next for Jason Bourne? The answer: Universal would relaunch the franchise with a prequel and then possibly Damon and Greengrass would do another movie down the road.
At the junket for the duo’s upcoming Iraq-based action-thriller Green Zone, director Paul Greengrass finally laid to rest all of the speculation with a very definite summation of why he decided to move on:
“Listen, I just love the Bourne franchise, number one, and I owe it a great deal, and I gave my all on the two films that I made,” he began, “But when I was honest with myself last Autumn, and I was starting to get going on other things, you just come to a point where you realize you’ve done it. You don’t have anything more to contribute to a franchise that needs to continue obviously, and in order to continue, a franchise needs to be rebooted and reenergized by new perspectives. I just felt that I’d done it, and there’s nothing unnatural about that. To make a film, it’s 19 months of your life seven days a week, 20 hours a day, you’ve got to have real… and there were just too many other things that I was interested in. I felt like I’d had a wonderful, wonderful time, I loved it and I want it to continue. In the end, contrary to reports, there was never an argument with the studio of any kind at all. I did spend some time thinking that I might (do it) and getting myself to a place of ‘what would it be?’ and it’s only when you do that where you find, ‘You know what? I’m gone. I’m onto other things.’ I explained (it) to them. We had a very nice discussion–they were completely understanding–and I said ‘We’ll make some other movies.’ They said ‘Excellent.'”
A little later, the same question was put to actor Matt Damon and he went as far to explain one of the possible ways they could go with a prequel that would make it easier to adjust for those who can’t see anyone else play Jason Bourne:
“I think they have a good way to do a prequel with someone else, and basically make it about the Bourne identity, the actual identity. Any studio is interested in making it an evergreen that can just go on and on and on, and it never will with our character because he’s resolved his issues now. He’s got his memory back three times now. I don’t think anybody wants to see me say ‘I don’t remember’ again, but I think what we could do is that you can do some movies with another actor, anyone, whether it’s Ryan Gosling or Russell Crowe or Denzel Washington, and he’s Jason Bourne, and at the end of his one or two or three movies, you see them getting ready to pass the identity onto me, so it just becomes like a 007, it becomes the name that they give this certain person who is uniquely positioned. So then if Paul and I come back and do a fourth one in ten years, we’ll pass it onto someone else and then the thing can kind of go on.”
So clearly, Damon, who said unequivocally that he wouldn’t do another “Bourne” movie without Paul is still maintaining the “never say never” credo, which is probably wise.
While Greengrass is exploring his options of what to do next, for Damon, he’ll be working with the Coen Brothers’ on their Western True Grit, something he’s really looking forward to start on March 15:
“It’s a really great script. They adapted it from the book and the book is amazing, I’d never read it, but it’s worth the read. I love Westerns, but I really love the Coen Brothers, so I’m looking forward to that, definitely.”
Afterwards, Damon was asked about the Untitled Robert F. Kennedy Film that was recently reported:
“Eben Thomas wrote a new biography of him and Gary Ross has the rights to it, so yeah, we’re hoping to (do that) but there’s no script yet. It’s a little ways off, but a script’s supposed to come in next month, so hopefully, it’ll be great and I’ll have a job for the fall.”
He also addressed the two potential movies he would do with his other regular collaborator Steven Soderbergh, Contagion and a Liberace biopic:
“‘Contagion,’ Scott Burns who wrote ‘The Informant!’ handed in this great script and it’s timely, so it’s more of an ensemble piece and I’m going to play a small part in that and then we’re going to do Liberace sometime next year. None of (these movies) are actually lined-up like we’re starting here and we have a green light. They’re all things that I’m really excited about that are movable pieces depending on Steven’s schedule. If this RFK thing goes then that might change. There’s a play I really want to do. But they’re all just really exciting things that are out there.”
Finally, here’s what Damon said about working with his Good Will Hunting collaborator Ben Affleck again:
“His last movie is great, ‘The Town,’ I’ve seen the rough cut, it’s fantastic. That’s the idea of the first look deal we set up at Warners, because I want to direct, too, so there are a bunch of different ways we can end up working together. It’s weird that twelve years has gone by since we’ve worked together, it just kind of happened. We were just reacting to the work that was out there and starting families, but we definitely want to try and find stuff. It’s tough though. We wrote ‘Good Will Hunting’ because we were unemployed and had all this time. We definitely don’t have that kind of time anymore, so that’s been the biggest obstacle to writing is just been all the acting work we’ve been getting… and now directing work for him.”
Look for our exclusive interview with Paul Greengrass sometime in the next couple weeks before Green Zone opens on March 12.