Matt Damon Once Shared How American Politics Helped Affect His ‘Bourne’ Franchise

Matt Damon was very proud of his Bourne films for a number of reasons. Not only because of their success, but because of the commentary behind them. The Bourne films were very much inspired by the political era they were in. And this was also partially why there was almost a decade between the third and fourth Damon Bourne movies.

Matt Damon waited for the world change before returning as Jason Bourne

Matt Damon posing in a suit at 'The Bourne Ultimatum' premiere.
Matt Damon | AXEL SCHMIDT/Getty Images

Damon considered his past Bourne movies very much products of their political time. The spy thrillers all ran during Bush’s presidency, and was inspired by worldwide events during the 2000s. But this also played a very small part in the wait for his fourth Bourne movie. When Damon returned for Jason Bourne, the movie traditionally provided commentary about events happening in the 2010s.

“We always looked at those movies as really about the Bush presidency, and so we kind of had to wait for the world to change,” Damon said in a 2015 interview with BuzzFeed. “Without giving too much of it away, it’s Bourne through an austerity-riddled Europe and in a post-Snowden world. It seems like enough has changed, you know? There are all these kinds of arguments about spying and civil liberties and the nature of democracy.”

In an interview with The New York Times, it was noted how much social media expanded after the last Bourne film in 2007. Websites like Facebook and Twitter became a part of people’s lives, and helped spawn other social media outlets like Instagram. Jason Bourne director Paul Greengrass, who also filmed Supremacy and IUltimatum, wanted to explore the threat this technology posed to security. Which gave Bourne a new group of antagonists o deal with.

“The classic Bourne universe is one where you look at the C.I.A. with great skepticism,” Greengrass said. “But I wanted to cast that skeptical eye, Bourne’s skeptical eye, a bit broader. Because the truth is there are other barons in the world now.”

Matt Damon once joked the ‘Bourne’ series went from Republican to Democratic

Damon has frequently complimented the Bourne movies for being different than other action movies. Speaking with Movies.IE, the actor reflected on how the Bourne films actually dealt with the consequences of the character’s actions. Particularly when it came to violence against others.

“Well, it’s really interesting. For me to do that in a mainstream movie is actually a great coup for us,” Damon said. “When in a big American movie have you seen the protagonist kill two people in the middle of the second act and then at the end go and apologize for it and to start to understand the consequences of his actions? I really thought that was a good thing to put out in a mainstream movie, particularly with everything going on in the world. And that was the big attraction for me.”

Damon credited the film’s first director, Doug Liman, for the sophistication of the Bourne series. The actor would also give credit to Robert Ludlum, who wrote the books the movies were based on. But Damon also reminded that Liman changed a lot from the original Bourne books. So much so that he joked that it affected the stories’ political alignment.

“Doug Liman always talked about that,” Damon said. “Because Robert Ludlum wrote it and it was this Cold War novel and Doug’s movie was very different from the book other than its title. We kind of went far a-field right out of the gate. Doug always said he was turning a Republican novel into a Democratic movie.”

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