It was about a year ago that Matt Damon and director Paul Greengrass moved on from the Bourne franchise, but Universal isn’t ready to part ways with the lucrative franchise. The studio hired Tony Gilroy, a man with writing credits on the first three Bourne scripts, to write and direct a titled The Bourne Legacy. Though the title is borrowed from one of the books in the Bourne series, The Bourne Legacy is a standalone project – wholly original story which does not feature the character Jason Bourne.
In the absence of Damon, Universal needs a strapping young man to put on the posters. The studio has begun the search for the actor to play a new assassin character with a “similar background” to Bourne. Gilroy has reportedly met with Jake Gyllenhaal, Tobey Maguire, Garrett Hedlund, Taylor Kitsch, and Kellan Lutz about assuming the mantle.
[Update: Joel Edgerton, Josh Hartnett, Paul Dano, Michael Pitt, Oscar Isaac, Michael Fassbender, Luke Evans, Alex Pettyfer, and Benjamin Walker have been added to the list of contenders. Details after the break.]
Variety was unable to confirm the report with anyone from Universal, but their sources provide a few interesting details about the casting process:
- No frontrunner has emerged.
- Gilroy has an idea of the qualities he wants in his leading man, and hopes to submit all candidates to a screen test. This may cost him a bigger name that prefers the wooing process.
- Universal has their own ideas about who they want on that poster; it’s implied the studio’s vision doesn’t align perfectly with Gilroy’s.
- The studio is likely to hold off on casting supporting roles until they’ve found their lead.
Because we don’t know too much about the role, I couldn’t tell you who’s the best fit. I’ll simply confess that I’m all in on the career of Taylor Kitsch after Friday Night Lights. (Texas Forever.) I’d love for Kitsch to be a major star, especially if this Battleship thing somehow works out.
Compared to the blue-eyed intensity of Damon, this group seems pretty layed back, no?
[Update: Deadline's report on the matter added 9 more names to the list of candidates. Such a broad and varied collection defies classification. Well, not too varied: 13 of the 14 actors are white. Thank god for the Cuban/Guatemalan Isaac. But the ages range from Pettyfer (20) to Edgerton (36).
Deadline suggests Gilroy is in the process of narrowing the list, and that actor availability will be a limiting factor. So expect another update on this story in the near future.]
No one is trying to replace Damon, as there’s hope he will reprise his role as Bourne for a fifth film. The Wrap even suggests “many in [Damon's] camp fully expect to happen in the next year or so,” a statement that weights about as much as a feather. The word on the street is that if Greengrass comes back, Damon will follow. I imagine that came up when Universal agreed to make Greengrass’ next project, Memphis.
The Bourne Legacy is scheduled for release on August 3, 2012.