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Tony Gilroy Responds To Matt Damon's 'Ultimatum' Diss & More From Empire's Feature On 'The Bourne Legacy'

by Oliver Lyttelton
June 28, 2012 3:02 PM
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In a summer where more has been more when it comes to movie marketing (to the extent where a 25-minute cut of "The Amazing Spider-Man" has been assembled from clips and trailers alone), there's one film that's managed to keep things pretty much under wraps: "The Bourne Legacy." A continuation of Universal's blockbuster spy franchise, which sees Tony Gilroy -- writer on the first three films -- take over directorial duties having subsequently proved his chops (and how...) on the Oscar-nominated "Michael Clayton," the picture also stars Jeremy Renner taking over lead duties as Aaron Cross, another top-flight agent, albeit a very different character.

Even after the debut of the full trailer a few weeks back, only the barest hints of plot and details on the film have slipped out ahead of the movie's release. But Renner covers the latest issue of Empire Magazine, with an extensive feature on the film, and a few tidbits on the project, and its gestation, have slipped out. Five highlights from the piece are below, and you can read much more in the new Empire, which is on newsstands and iPads now. "The Bourne Legacy" hits theaters on August 10th.

Tony Gilroy was surprised and puzzled by Matt Damon's quotes about his "Bourne Ultimatum" script.
There was a bit of a storm last year when the usually mild-mannered Matt Damon went off on Tony Gilroy, the co-writer of all three original 'Bourne' films, and director of the fourth. Gilroy allegedly agreed to pen the first draft of "The Bourne Ultimatum" under the condition that he wouldn't have to deal with director Paul Greengrass, and Damon told the magazine "I don't blame Tony for taking a boatload of money and handing in what he handed in. It's just that it was unreadable. This is a career-ender. I mean, I could put this thing up on eBay and it would be game over for that dude. It's terrible. It's really embarrassing. He was having a go, basically, and he took his money and left." Damon later sort-of-apologized, saying "This is between me and him. So saying anything publicly is fucking stupid and unprofessional and just kind of douchey of me," but Gilroy has remained silent throughout. Until now, that is. Though Gilroy doesn't throw fuel on the fire, telling Empire, "I don't understand that at all. I don't know where it came from. I think Matt is one of the greatest actors of his generation." Pals again?

Early in the fourth film's development, there was talk of recasting Bourne himself, or making the film a prequel.
In the midst of a tough few years, Universal were clearly keen to have one of their few franchises continue, but there was one major problem; 'Ultimatum' had essentially wrapped up the protagonist's story. As producer Frank Marshall says, "Jason Bourne knew what his name was and where he came from and he didn't really want to be an agent anymore. So that didn't really leave us a wide source of story material." A fourth script was commissioned, first from George C. Nolfi, then Josh Zetumer, but neither won much favor, and things were complicated further when Paul Greengrass walked off, essentially taking the loyal Matt Damon with him. As such, according to Empire, a number of other options were considered, including making the film a prequel, recasting, Bond-style (although Marshall says, "You've still got the same story problem: what are you going to do?"), or passing on the mantle to a different agent. Ultimately, Tony Gilroy came in, and came up with the take in "The Bourne Legacy."

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  • Stephen Slack | October 1, 2013 3:56 AMReply

    I have the four Bourne movies on my DVR list with Direct TV. And my wife and I have watched these movies at least 10 times each. To us, they are the best movies that we've ever seen. We think that Tony Gilroy and his team are Masters of the Trade. Please continue. Personally, I would like to see Jason Bourne show up at Pam's trial as a surprise witness walking into the court and responding to the judge who asks him who he is, " I am Jason Bourne. May I help you find the truth?"

  • snazzy | July 28, 2012 12:12 PMReply

    Renner vs Damon - not the issue. It is Tony Gilroy who DID NOT write the Ultimatum final script but turned in garbage which had to be re-done by Paul Greengrass and Matt Damon. Universal is covering for Gilroy who is unethical, nasty, and an all-around snarky, sniveling person.

  • mr. chris | June 29, 2012 8:45 PMReply

    Oh and since it's Renner instead of Damon in this film you gotta replace Bourne's theme "Extreme ways" with an Aaron Cross theme, something like "Bad" by Michael Jackson or "Macho Man" by the Village People would be more fitting, or wait for it... "Karma Chameleon"

  • Mr. Chrid | June 29, 2012 8:35 PMReply

    Who gave Gilroy all this authority anyway? It's obvious it went to his head or maybe he's had a major ego problem the whole time? He alienated Greengrass and Damon from the series and already trying to lay claim to the 5th movie! Saying basically if Damon wants to be a part of my movies I suppose I could find some way to squeeze you into the movie! Are you kidding! Get rid of Gilroy! He's trashing one of the best series ever! Damon and Greengrass planned on re-uniting for the 5th film but Gilroy is trying to squash that. Jeremy Renner! Are you kidding that's a major FAIL! I'm not saying he's a bad actor but in this kind of role is a joke. Why don't they call it not so... Bourne Legacy? Considering Bourne is NOT EVEN IN THE MOVIE! Landing Edward Norton in this film was a success, I have to admit! It pains me to say I cannot watch the next installment to (after the Godfather) my favorite movie series of all time because Tony Gilroy and his ego is trashing it! Get rid of him! Or at least minimize his authority

  • Rallyindy | June 29, 2012 8:19 AMReply

    Renner is in love with big paychecks, that's for sure

  • Alan | June 29, 2012 4:25 AMReply

    "Jeremy Renner isn't worried about being in too many franchises." Why would he be? He's playing relatively different roles in those films, wannabe-alpha in 'Mission', support man in 'the Avengers' and top dog in 'Bourne'. With the exception of the oh-so-memorable Hawkeye, those roles have some dimension and texture, and Renner is a strong and versatile enough actor to differentiate those characters. This isn't like the Worthington situation: Renner is an excellent actor who will, creatively, make the most of whatever opportunities he has.

  • david | June 29, 2012 10:28 AM

    Because franchises last a while, and it means that he'll likely miss out on a lot of roles, possibly great ones. That's all.

  • exclusionist | June 28, 2012 6:27 PMReply

    They lost me when they said the new character had supergenes. Lame.

  • rollo tomasi | June 28, 2012 5:01 PMReply

    I was skepticle when I first heard about this movie, but the more and more i read and hear about it the more excited i get

  • eric | June 28, 2012 6:15 PM

    i was the same way, they just might pull it off. i love how they're keeping it so connected to the other 3.

  • rayray | June 28, 2012 4:38 PMReply

    big renner fan, i hope this is good

  • filmmaniac111 | June 28, 2012 3:37 PMReply

    gonna be awesome

  • kingslayer | June 28, 2012 3:29 PMReply

    i'm really excited about this one, i can't wait

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