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Matt Damon spent years playing the amnesiac assassin Jason Bourne in the Bourne series. The journey of his character wrapped up after three successful movies. But the end of his character’s story didn’t mean the end of the franchise.

Hawkeye star Jeremy Renner would star in a new Bourne film that didn’t feature Damon at all. But it was a film Damon once believed might have ended any chance he had of returning to the films.

Why Matt Damon originally didn’t want to make a sequel for ‘The Bourne Identity’

Matt Damon posing while wearing a black sweater,
Matt Damon | Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images

The Bourne Identity was a huge hit for Damon. The film enjoyed commercial success at the box office, earning praise for its storytelling and for Damon’s performance. But although the movie was based on a series of books written by Robert Ludlum, Damon wasn’t sure about making more Bourne movies after Identity. This was because the Good Will Hunting star believed most movie sequels were disappointing.

“And just for me as a movie fan, if I go to a sequel to a movie I really liked and I feel like it was made cynically, as a money-grab by the studio, I end up really resenting the studio and the filmmakers that made it, plus it’s just very hard to make a good sequel,” he once said in an interview with Female First.

One of the reasons he was sold on doing a sequel, however, was because his Bourne Supremacy and Bourne Ultimatum director Paul Greengrass expressed interest in returning.

“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, and keeping in mind that Bloody Sunday was one of my favourite movies of the last decade, I felt like it was something I couldn’t say no to,” Damon explained.

Matt Damon felt like Jeremy Renner’s ‘Bourne: Legacy’ shot the ‘Bourne’ franchise in the head

Damon would originally wrap up his Bourne series with the 2007 film The Bourne Ultimatum. For the Oscar-winner, Ultimatum was a satisfying conclusion to the franchise he expressed pride for. But the studio would later attempt to continue the Bourne series without Damon with 2012’s The Bourne Legacy. This saw Jeremy Renner lead the Bourne mythology in a new direction.

But Damon, who was still curious about returning to the franchise, wondered if Bourne Legacy might have discouraged his potential comeback.

“You know what? They might have taken the Bourne series out back and shot it in the head. If that’s the end of it, that’s just the end of it. I hope not. I love the character and the three movies we did, so I’d love to figure out a way to do another one,” he once told Playboy (via Parade) about Legacy.

In an interview with Movieline, Damon delved a little further into how Renner’s film made returning to the Bourne franchise difficult.

“From what I understand, it kind of relives [The Bourne Ultimatum] from a different perspective,” Damon said. “What that means, because they use our actors and characters, is that whatever they said [in Legacy] is true and so we’d have to acknowledge it in any Bourne movie that we’d do. And that makes it really tough.”

Why Matt Damon didn’t do ‘Bourne Legacy’


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After Bourne Ultimatum, Greengrass was approached with the opportunity to make a fourth film. At first, Greengrass was on board. But soon the filmmaker had second thoughts.

“And he was ready to do one and they gave us a release date without a script, and he backed away. He just went, ‘I’m not sure we can guarantee it’s going to be as good as the other ones.’ And that was enough for me to take a step back,” Damon once told Daily News.

After Greengrass left, the Oscar-winner lost interest in doing another film as well.

“It’s a director’s movie and I’m sorry, that’s the first person you need, the director,” Damon explained. “I wouldn’t do it without him.”

The two would reunite years later for the 2016 sequel Jason Bourne.