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

Photo of Oliver Lyttelton By Oliver Lyttelton | The Playlist June 28, 2012 at 3:02PM

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.
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Jeremy Renner, The Bourne Legacy

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."

This article is related to: The Bourne Legacy, Tony Gilroy, Edward Norton, Jeremy Renner, Frank Marshall


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