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

by Rodrigo Perez
July 20, 2012 12:08 PM
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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.

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  • snazzy | July 22, 2012 10:36 AMReply

    Ask Tony Gilroy if he wrote any of the finished product of the Bourne Ultimatum. I cannot stand the guy and he was the one that got Paul Greengrass and Matt Damon off the new film.

  • precisely so | July 22, 2012 5:58 AMReply

    Gilroy didn't write Ultimatum - it was written by George Nolfi and Scott Z Burns after he walked off the picture. But he must have liked their idea of inserting a phone call from another movie - since he admits right upfront he stole it for this movie. Why do you guys never call him on this stuff?

  • Duh | July 22, 2012 10:25 AM

    Yeah, he did. He wrote 1 draft and it was a condition of working on the film --since he didn't want to -- that he wrote one draft and one draft only. When there were problems later on, two writers were called in to work on it. Even Matt Damon said he wrote a draft (one that Damon dissed earlier this year).

    That's very public record stuff. How do you not know that before opening your mouth?

  • Arnold | July 21, 2012 9:53 AMReply

    Thx for this news, i ve been waiting for this news for a long time :)

  • JJ's uncle | July 21, 2012 7:27 AMReply

    Don't worry, Gilroy. As you yourself imply, Americans love crap. It should do great!

  • kerry | July 20, 2012 5:08 PMReply

    the more and more information i get about this movie the more i feel confident it will be good

  • shutthefuckupdonnie | July 20, 2012 1:27 PMReply

    i like gilroy i think he's a good director and i think he'll do a good job with this

  • ronin | July 20, 2012 12:55 PMReply

    i know there are skeptics out there but i think this has a shot to be really good, i mean great cast , great director i think it will be good

  • cameran | July 20, 2012 12:45 PMReply

    i really like gilroy, i think michael clayton was definitly one of the best films of the last decade, i can't wait to see this

  • kingslayer | July 20, 2012 12:40 PMReply

    wow i didn't know corey stoll was in this, now i'm even more excited

  • Matt | July 20, 2012 12:25 PMReply

    Come on, guys, it's ROBERT Elswit, not ROGER.

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