Matt Damon is out of the next Bourne film. And so is ― believe it ― Jason Bourne himself. Director-screenwriter Tony Gilroy has said Damon’s character, Jason Bourne, will not feature in The Bourne Legacy, which is due to be released in 2012.
Gilroy told Hollywood Elsewhere: "This is not a reboot or a recast or a prequel. No one's replacing Matt Damon. There will be a whole new hero, a whole new chapter … this is a stand-alone project. Jason Bourne will not be in this film, but he's very much alive. What happened in the first three films is the trigger for what happens.”
When it became clear that Gilroy, writer of the Bourne films, will direct the fourth adventure in the series, it was a foregone conclusion that Damon wouldn't star in the film. Damon had earlier indicated that he would return to the franchise only if Paul Greengrass, who made the two earlier films, was involved.
Gilroy and Greengrass had fallen out over changes made to the script of The Bourne Supremacy (2004). Gilroy had agreed to write The Bourne Ultimatum (2007), if he did not have to talk to Greengrass.
Greengrass, a long-term collaborator with Damon, left the series over creative differences with the Universal. Differences between Greengrass and Universal had surfaced when the studio reportedly started work on the project while the Greengrass-Damon duo were still working on Green Zone.
While it was apparent that Damon would no more be Bourne, the fact that there would be no Jason Bourne in the film has come as a surprise. It's like a Bond film without James Bond.
Matt Damon as Jason Bourne in 'The Bourne Ultimatum'.
"The easiest way to think of it is an expansion or a reveal," Gilroy explained. "Jason Bourne will not be in this film, but he's very much alive. What happened in the first three films is the trigger for what happens. I'm building a legend and an environment and a wider conspiracy...the world we're making enhances and advances and invites Jason Bourne's return [down the road].
Gilroy, whose filmmaking credits include Duplicity and Oscar-nominated Michael Clayton, had this to justify, “Everything you saw in the first three films actually happened, and everyone who got into it will be rewarded for paying attention. We’re going to show you the bigger picture, the bigger canvas. When you see what we’re going and see what we’re doing it’ll be pretty obvious….but Jason Bourne’s actvities in the first three films is the immediate trigger.”
The film takes its title from Eric Van Lustbader's novel (the fourth in the series; Lustbader continued the novels after Robert Ludlum's death), but would not have anything to do with it. But to imagine that it wouldn't have anything to do with Jason Bourne either is more than just a surprise.