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Interview: Tony Gilroy Talks The Challenges Of Mounting 'The Bourne Legacy,' Addresses The 'Enhancement' Concerns & More

The Playlist By Rodrigo Perez | The Playlist August 9, 2012 at 3:25PM

"The Bourne Legacy" could be seen by some as a long-time coming for writer/director Tony Gilroy. While the almost billion-dollar grossing series has been defined by Matt Damon and director Paul Greengrass, arguably the man behind the scenes masterminding many of the strings was Gilroy, who wrote all three 'Bourne' films (two writers were hired to work on 'Ultimatum' after his first draft).
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Jeremy Renner, The Bourne Legacy
You leave it pretty wide open at the end. It seems that you're prepared for more if need be.
There's about 25 different ways it could go, I don't know. I mean that's the question we're getting all of the time now. The idea that there's some sort of master plan, and that we've talked about what will be next is crazy, there hasn't. We don't have it together, we're just working so hard to get this film done. There's no master plan about what happens next.

When it comes to writing the thing, it seems that there’s a marked difference between something like this, and something like “Michael Clayton” or “Duplicity,” which is driven by quite juicy dialogue.
I'm happy to make a character who doesn't speak much, whatever's right. The more you're actually involved in movie making, really involved in it, I think the less enamored you become with dialogue. So I'm not conscious of it, I just want it to be right for what it is. Good writing is good writing and the appropriate thing for the moment.

Jeremy Renner, The Bourne Legacy
And in terms of writing action, you've got action scenes that take place all over the world across the four films -- Europe, North Africa, Asia. You actually go there to write, yeah?
I'd never be able to write action if I didn't. We did that on all of these movies. ‘Identity’ I wrote about all of the things that I knew. I knew Paris really well, I lived in Europe and was very comfortable. When I was writing the script for ‘Bourne Supremacy,’ [producer] Pat Crawley and I went to Berlin and Moscow. I was writing those sequences, or sketching them anyways, while I was in the bar in Moscow, you know, at dinner, and actually revising what we were doing the next day. Then on ‘Ultimatum,’ it was even more. Pat and I went to Tangier, went to all of those rooftops in Tangier. The only place I haven't been on these is Goa. If it's not real I don't see how you do it. Or at least, It's hard to get it really good. [On the new film], on a location scout we went to Ho Chi Minh City, Jakarta and Manila in the course of like 10 days and standing up there Pat was like, "This is fucking crazy, this place."

Actually that chasm, that narrow thing [which Aaron Cross leaps down to rescue Rachel Weisz’s character, as seen in the trailer], that was actually a place we saw in Saigon and we were like ‘This would be so fucking cool to do something here. ‘ We couldn't find it [in Manila] so we built it there. So yeah, I don't know how you do it any other way. Otherwise, you have action sequences where you never know where you are, which is the great trend these days.

The idea that there's some sort of master plan, and that we've talked about what will be next is crazy. There's no master plan about what happens next.
That’s a bete noir I assume?
Oh yeah, that's absolutely my absolute obsession. I can't stand when I'm watching something where you should be oriented and you're not. I mean the battle sequence in “Full Metal Jacket” is a masterpiece because you're not supposed to know where you are, and it does it in the right way. “Black Hawk Down” has the best sense of disorientation I’ve ever seen in a movie. Where you're just like, ‘oh my god I should know where I am but I don't., Somebody does but I never will.’ It's on purpose. There are other movies, I won't mention names, but there's a lot of people right now that don’t care [about geography in action sequences].

It's like disorientation to mask some shortcomings.
Yeah, if you're doing a gunfight, and there's three or four voices in the ensemble, you should know where the hell you are. There's a great tradition of that. Kevin Costner did a great one, a great one [in “Open Range”].

The irony is these ‘Bourne’ movies ushered that aesthetic in.
I think there are much greater offenders. These films always understood the importance of gravity, and it matters greatly to me that you know where you are, and we don't cheat, and then we still have balls.

"The Bourne Legacy" opens tomorrow, Friday August 10th in wide release.

This article is related to: Tony Gilroy, The Bourne Legacy, Jeremy Renner, Interviews, Interviews, Features


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