Matt Damon The Bourne Supremacy

Matt Damon The Bourne Supremacy


Matt Damon/The Bourne Supremacy Interview by Paul Fischer in Los Angeles.

Matt Damon is back for round two as Jason Bourne, and this star is proving to be one of the hardest working actors in Hollywood, as he will soon be seen in Ocean's Twelve, Terry Gilliam's The Brothers' Grimm and Stephen Gaghan's Syriana, to name but three.
In a wide ranging discussion, a good-humoured and relaxed Damon talks about the film, other projects and the parallels between bad action films and porn, as Paul Fischer discovered.

While one would not necessarily equate typical action films with pornography, Matt Damon's frustrations with Hollywood action films results in him offering such a comparison. Taking a brief break from filming Ocean's Twelve in Los Angeles, a smiling Damon laughingly insists that his theory on action movies "is that is that they're like porn movies. A porn movie's got really bad writing, bad acting, and really thinly drawn characters," he begins, laughingly. "Then they have a really shitty scene, sit there and talk like, 'Hey, I'm the milkman', then you know what's going to happen. Then there's some action, for which you don't really feel anything, and then you get another. When the action's over you get another stupid scene with 'Hey, I'm the mailman.'"

Of course Damon's point is, if you're going to reinvent yourself as an action star, then, do so in a less than ordinary fashion, referring to The Bourne Supremacy that he feels takes the genre onto a new level. But if he fails as an action hero, Damon says he can always take porn onto a new level. "What I want to do is a character-driven porn movie! It's all going to be about the characters and the porn's going to grow out of the characters and it's going to serve as character development. Perhaps, he adds, maybe he'll end up starring in The Porn Identity!

As much as Damon jokes about the shortage of quality scripts made in Hollywood, the actor never thought of himself as the ideal choice to play amnesiac assassin Jason Bourne, "because he was written older in the book. I thought that there was a group of actors who are older than me or even slightly older than me, anyone from Russell Crowe, Brad Pitt or George Clooney, any of the kind of people who would seem to me to be more obvious choices to play him, especially given that in the book the character is about forty years old or something. At the time Doug offered it to me, I think I was 28 and looked 14!" Yet Damon seemed to fit the character like a glove, but at the time of publicizing Bourne Identity, he was adamant that he wouldn't do a sequel, "unless we could make it as good as the first one."

Damon says that he always been cynical about movie sequels. "I had a friend who said something really funny to me: You have to be very careful about the sequel stuff, because there have only been three sequels in history that are as good or better than the original: The New Testament is better than The Old Testament; Huck Finn is better than Tom Sawyer and The Godfather I is better than The Godfather." With that philosophy in toe, Damon was persuaded that the second instalment in life-on-the-run for Jason Bourne, would be worth tackling. "I guess what changed my mind was a couple of things. First of all, Paul Greengrass wanted to do it and once I started to talk to Paul about what his vision of the movie was and heard not only his enthusiasm but also how he intended to do it, I just felt like it was something that I couldn't say no to. Then on the script side, just to give you a thought of where my head was, there were three tent pole moments in the movie that I thought were really bold for a sequel. One occurred in each act and each was not something commonly done in Hollywood mainstream movies. To take a revenge story that looks like a classic kind of revenge story and turn it on its head a little bit, was irresistible."

The actor feels that The Bourne Supremacy is far more than your routine revenge thriller. "Eventually it's about atonement and about an attempt at redemption, but I think it certainly starts as an exercise in revenge yet shifts after the second act, as he goes into Moscow." In a rare move for a Hollywood star, Damon has relatively little dialogue in this film, admitting that playing the character this time around was an intense experience, but felt gratified that a major studio afforded the actor the opportunity to play such an anti-heroic character. "This was a studio that allowed and endorsed us to make this guy much more complicated than in a conventional action film. He's a deeply flawed character and they didn't back off that so I was in a good mood going to work every day because I had something to play, and something to do, rather than kind of twiddle my thumbs through a bland good guy role."

Damon says that he genuinely likes the complex, cool Jason Bourne, but admitted not knowing whether he could see himself reprising the role in a third movie. "I'm very happy to leave it at this and am pleased with the way this one came out. It was a lot of pressure for the creative group who was behind it throughout the shoot because we all shared that feeling that we didn't want to make a disappointing sequel to a movie that we really liked. To go and do a third one, we'd really have to get a great script, and it's hard because at this point I personally don't even know where to go with it or how to draw him back into that world. The third one in the books is called The Bourne Ultimatum and it feels to me very much like he's given his ultimatum at this point! But who knows? Maybe there's a rocket scientist out here who can figure it out."

As for being dubbed a new action hero, Damon is unconcerned about any typecasting that would follow. "I doubt that these two movies will mean that I'll now only do action movies. I've never wanted to do the same kind of movie over and over anyway. My theory in it all is I'm just going to try and dodge the labels and keep doing what I'm doing. I really like the fact that I can do a movie like this and then turn around and do Ocean's Twelve, Syriana or Stuck On You. That's what makes it interesting to me, and what makes me like to go to work as things constantly change."

It's not all hard work, as recent photos suggest, taken on the set of Ocean's Twelve, with Damon, Pitt and company seen sipping champagne on expensive yachts, between takes. "It's been really good for all of us. Brad goes from a movie like Troy, and I come from a movie like this, then we show up on Ocean's and suddenly the workload is divided in twelve pieces, so it is a much different kind of life for us. I'm working every day this week on Ocean's and that's the first time that's happened on the duration of the shoot so far. The most I've gone is four days a week, which, compared to Bourne, where six-day weeks were just standard, So it does feel like a vacation in that sense but you have to be careful because there is still hard work and you still have to keep your eye on the ball."

Damon also finished working on Terry Gilliam's The Brothers' Grimm, an experience about which the actor remains genuinely impassioned and enthused. "Working with Terry was exactly what I had hoped it would be like. We worked in this massive, beautifully designed set, and Terry just got in there and played with it. We shot for about 110 days, which is long, so we were in Prague for about six months total, and it really was everything I could have hoped for. He's so passionate about what he does, and becomes so deeply connected to what he's shooting. I think he's just a true artist."

As busy as Damon is these days, he says that he does not consider himself a workaholic. "It's still hard for me to turn down work if it's really good because for so many years I was desperate to get a job, and couldn't, so I think it's kind of anathema to me to turn down work. I mean I swore before that I was going to take a nice break between Ocean's and The Informant, then Syriana popped up, which was just one of those movies that I thought was exceptionally well written, really interesting and very current, and I felt like I would have regretted having said no to that, as ready as I was for a break. So I don't know if it's being a workaholic as much as it is having a kind of common sense and feeling like these movies are really good. The last year I've worked with some just incredible directors and I think I would have regretted passing up any of those opportunities.


Interview with Matt Damon - The Bourne Ultimatum
Interview with Matt Damon - The Bourne Supremacy
Interview with Matt Damon - The Bourne Identity
Interview with Franka Potente The Bourne Identity
Interview with Paul Greengrass - The Bourne Ultimatum
Review The Bourne Identity

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