With the "Bourne" film series scribe Tony Gilroy taking over the directing reigns on the upcoming fourth film, it looked like Matt Damon was unlikely to return.
Now in an interview with Hollywood Elsewhere, Gilroy succinctly clears up some of the rumors and talks about what his plans are for the franchise.
First up the film's title will be "The Bourne Legacy", but "will not use the story" from the book ghostwritten under Robert Ludlum's name by Eric van Lustbader. Gilroy adds "it's a completely original screenplay".
This is not unexpected at all as only the first half of the first film in the series, "The Bourne Identity", bared any resemblance to the original book. The subsequent films similarly used the titles only and some of Bourne's personal backstory elements.
More interestingly while Damon is out, Gilroy specifically says this is NOT a "reboot or a recast or a prequel". He adds "There will be a whole new hero, a whole new chapter...this is a stand-alone project."
A brave move. In the books and films, 'Jason Bourne' is an alias that David Webb (Damon) had adopted. It was thought that with Webb now off the grid and suspected to be dead by authorities, the Bourne name could be transferred to a new character.
Instead, Gilroy says "The easiest way to think of it is an expansion or a reveal. Jason Bourne will not be in this film, but he's very much alive…We're going to show you the bigger picture, the bigger canvas. When you see what we're going and see what we're doing it'll be pretty obvious....but Jason Bourne's actvities in the first three films is the immediate trigger."
Established fans of the series will like it as "everyone who got into [the previous films] will be rewarded for paying attention". This means there'll no doubt be plenty of references to events in the previous films, it also allows for other characters like Pamela Landy (Joan Allen) and Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles) to return.
Gilroy hints that Damon could eventually return if he wants - "I'm building a legend and an environment and a wider conspiracy...the world we're making enhances and advances and invites Jason Bourne's return [down the road]."