It was the junket quote heard around the world. Asked while promoting Hereafter by Parade magazine to comment about the recently announced Bourne Legacy spinoff to be directed by Tony Gilroy (Michael Clayton), Matt Damon — the star of the first three Bourne films — replied that he hadn’t been consulted on the project and said that “Universal just wants to call everything the Bourne something.” (In the past, Damon has said he’ll only make another Bourne film with Bourne Supremacy and Bourne Ultimatum director Paul Greengrass; Gilroy cowrote all three Bourne films but hasn’t directed any as of yet.) Damon wanted to clarify his comments a bit, so while we were on the phone for him for an upcoming EW feature about his charity, Water.org, we quizzed him on the flare-up.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: I hear you’re not entirely happy with the quotes that have appeared online about the Bourne situation. So what happened?
MATT DAMON: I was in a roundtable and they were, like, badgering me about the next Bourne movie. And I was like, “I don’t know, guys, they didn’t call me. They’re doing another movie with Tony.” I think it’s a smart thing to do. It doesn’t interfere with Paul [Greengrass] and me doing a movie. As I understand it, if you think of X-Men and then Wolverine, it’s just that process in reverse. Tony doesn’t want to hurt the Bourne story. So as I understand it, Jason Bourne is alive in the world that Tony’s going to create. I don’t appear in it, but it’s very much that world. As far as Paul and I are concerned, as long as there’s room for us to come in and do another one, we’re thrilled.
It is bizarre, though, to have a Bourne movie without Bourne in it.
Yeah, though Tony is a really clever guy. My guess is he has thought of a really great way to do it, to create a whole world that feels like the Bourne world, where Jason Bourne is very much alive and out there. We’ll see. I wish him well. It can only help us if it’s really good. And Tony at this point is an A-list director in his own right. He doesn’t have to do the movie. The fact that he found something that he felt was worthy of doing, I think, says a lot.
It’s unfortunate that you had to find out about it from the Internet though.
[Laughs] Well, it’s not like it was news to me, in the sense that our Bourne conversations with the studio were over a year ago. We had been talking about doing another one over a year ago, and we decided it wasn’t the time to do it. So I knew that they were trying to figure out a way to reboot it without killing our ability to do another one. So in that sense, it wasn’t like it was totally out of the blue.
So in a perfect world, when would you think about getting together with Paul again? How booked up are you right now?
Not really that booked up. I’m doing a few weeks on Contagion with [Steven] Soderbergh, and then I’m doing Cameron Crowe’s movie [We Bought A Zoo] in the spring. And then we’re planning on doing Liberace in the summer with Michael [Douglas].
Really? I hope that still happens.
So do we. And I’ve talked to Michael and everything’s on schedule for him, which is great. So we’ve all cleared our schedules and are all really excited about that happening. And then the fall’s wide open. So I’d love to do something with Paul, whether we do Bourne or something else. I know he’s been looking for something. So I don’t know if he’s going to generate his own piece of material or what. But my guess is if they’re going to do this one, it’s going to come out in 2012, so they’re probably not going to hustle to get ours going. So I think we have a little time, which is always nice for us because we’d be able to come up with a script. Which would be great.