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Exclusive: Tony Gilroy Pulls The Curtain Back On The Secretive 'The Bourne Legacy'

Photo of Rodrigo Perez By Rodrigo Perez | The Playlist July 20, 2012 at 12:08PM

Tony Gilroy has a mini-armada at his disposal. In June of 2012, in an unassuming block of offices in midtown Manhattan, the writer/director is sequestered with a team of editors orchestrating the next installment of Universal’s lucrative ‘Bourne’ franchise, which grossed nearly a billion dollars worldwide theatrically and a surfeit more from DVD and omnipresent cable appearances. But Gilroy -- who was nominated for Best Director and Best Original Screenplay in 2007 for "Michael Clayton," and is the author of all three original ‘Bourne’ scripts -- isn’t simply mounting a reboot or a reimagining, or conducting a linear sequel. Instead, the filmmaker is attempting to pull off a feat rarely attempted with Hollywood tentpoles: a parallel circumnavigation of the familiar ‘Bourne’ narrative told through the eyes of another agent.
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The Bourne Legacy, Tony Gilroy
Tony Gilroy has a mini-armada at his disposal. In June of 2012, in an unassuming block of offices in midtown Manhattan, the writer/director is sequestered with a team of editors orchestrating the next installment of Universal’s lucrative ‘Bourne’ franchise, which grossed nearly a billion dollars worldwide theatrically and a surfeit more from DVD and omnipresent cable appearances. But Gilroy -- who was nominated for Best Director and Best Original Screenplay in 2007 for "Michael Clayton," and is the author of all three original ‘Bourne’ scripts -- isn’t simply mounting a reboot or a reimagining, or conducting a linear sequel. Instead, the filmmaker is attempting to pull off a feat rarely attempted with Hollywood tentpoles: a parallel circumnavigation of the familiar ‘Bourne’ narrative told through the eyes of another agent.

“There was never just one” the ‘Legacy’ tagline states ominously, alluding to super-agents beyond Jason Bourne. Or as Edward Norton’s character says in the film, "Jason Bourne was just the tip of the iceberg." In short: “The Bourne Legacy,” Universal’s fourth film in the Bourne series, looks at the ramifications and consequences of the events that take place near the end of “The Bourne Ultimatum,” and spins them off in a bold new direction, revealing a larger chess game at play.

There’s also inventive overlap and an incredibly audacious moment of unity. “We actually get a phone call from ‘The Bourne Ultimatum’ in this movie,” Gilroy says, laughing almost in disbelief at the trick they’ve pulled off. For the first fifteen or so minutes of “The Bourne Legacy,” the film is actually running concurrently with “The Bourne Ultimatum.” And as Jason Bourne surfaces in Manhattan in that picture, and the secret Operation Blackbriar program is exposed to the media, the political shitstorm fans far and wide, bleeding into this new movie. The action drama introduces a new character, Aaron Cross, another agent under the larger umbrella of Operation Treadstone. Played by Jeremy Renner, the two-time Academy Award-nominated actor for “The Hurt Locker” and “The Town,” the 41-year-old late bloomer turned rising star is perhaps best known for playing Tom Cruise’s secondary man in “Mission: Impossible -- Ghost Protocol” and Hawkeye in Marvel’s billion-dollar-grossing tentpole “The Avengers.”

Before we sit down to chat formally, Gilroy, a salt-and-pepper haired mix of in-the-pocket confidence and controlled, wiry energy, invites me to watch almost 30 minutes of the new film.

This article is related to: The Bourne Legacy, Tony Gilroy, Jeremy Renner, Edward Norton, Rachel Weisz, Features, Interviews, Interview


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