We're about to see a lot of Matt Damon doing what he does best on the big screen. He returns this week in Promised Land, a heartfelt drama that he co-wrote with his new writing buddy, John Krasinki (The Office).
At the recent press junket for the film, we had a chance to put the Jason Bourne rumor mill to rest and ask Matt the inevitable question - will he be reprising his Bourne role anytime soon?
Granted, the actor has always remained (somewhat) optimistic that he would eventually return to the Bourne franchise one day with director Paul Greengrass, who helmed The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum. Franchise writer Tony Gilroy wore the director's hat for the spin-off film, The Bourne Legacy, creating a new character, Aaron Cross, played by Jeremy Renner (Matt's good pal), and setting up a story which overlapped with the events of the Ultimatum.
Damon has been asked about his Bourne return many times, and his answer can vary depending on the time and place. To us he said:
I'd love to, I really want to do another Bourne movie but we just can’t figure out the story. The studio had made a deal with the estate to make another film and so they weren't in breach of their contract, they had to get a Jason Bourne movie out for 2012. And that’s when Tony came up with the idea of how to do one with Jeremy.
I've talked to Paul about this, and it's really just a question of how do you bring the character back? Is there a movie that's as good as the other three that we did - and if we felt like there was, then we'd do it, but we just haven't cracked it yet.
Well, the fact that he says 'yet' implies he's not nixing the idea.
Matt says he even explored other creative avenues - most notably Chrisptopher Nolan's brother:
I gave it to Jonah Nolan who did such a beautiful job with the Batman mythology - I mean along with Chris. I met with him and I said: "Would you take a look at this, because we really want to do it?
Jonah was great. He took like a month and really worked on it. He came back and said: "I can’t figure out how to do it." He told me: "You guys really ended it, you know," which we did. We had intended it to be a trilogy and he gets out at the end.
Jason hasn’t been seen since 2004, so if we started writing a movie next year, we probably couldn't get one out by 2014 and that would have been ten years since the CIA has completely lost track of him. So what has the character been up to all this time?"
There's no denying that at 42, Damon is still in top shape - but does he feel that his action hero status has an expiration date? (Well, not if Stallone is anything to go by…). He laughed at the notion: "Easy now…."
He showed up to the interview at the Four Seasons Hotel newly shorn after being called back for reshoots on director Neill Blomkamp (District 9) new sci-fi thriller, Elysium, which is coming in summer 2013. Funnily enough, he had to break the news that he was bald to Terry Gilliam (Twelve Monkeys) who had also called him in for reshoots on The Zero Theorem, their head-trip of a film slated for a 2013 release.
Damon explained: "I had to call Terry and tell him that I was bald, which threw a wrench in our plans. So Terry was like, “Oh, interesting you’re bald. Okay, let’s like wet shave your head all the way down and give you a wig so you have a total receding hairline and we’ll just completely change the way you look.” So, there you have it, I was shorn again."
For now the future of the Bourne franchise is uncertain (Legacy wasn't exactly a scorching-hot hit with either fans or the box office), but there is one thing that is certain: most fans absolutely want to see Matt Damon's leading the franchise once again. The right story is no doubt out there - but will the filmmakers find it?
Only time will tell.
Until then you can catch Matt Damon in Elysium on August 9, 2013.
...And in The Zero Theorem at some point in 2013.
Promised Land will be in theaters in limited release on December 28, 2012; wide release on January 4, 2013.