The Bourne Legacy builds off the foundation of the Bourne universe created by Robert Ludlum, the writer/director expands the saga with an original story that reveals a larger conspiracy. The Bourne Legacy pulls back the curtain to expose a darker layer of intrigue, a deeper mythology, and a new hero who must battle to stay alive when his program suddenly becomes a liability. The Bourne Legacy is the aftermath of what’s come before. Bourne’s public exposure at the end of The Bourne Ultimatum sparks a bonfire that threatens to burn down decades of research and development into the building of better spies and warriors. We discover that there are actually a variety of intelligence programs and that the CIA’s Treadstone was but one of the early developments and Bourne’s actions are creating a tremendous anxiety with other programs being exposed in the progress.
We had the opportunity to sit and speak with director Tony Gilroy, Jeremy Renner, and Rachel Weisz about how prepared they were for this film, the writing process, taking on an action role, Jeremy’s motorcycle chase scene, and the possibility of other agents and programs.
Rachel this isn’t like the typical roles that you take can you tell us how it was playing this character and about your motorcycle chase scene in Manila?
Rachel Weisz: What I really like about the tone of the Bourne films is that they are really realistic. I’m not playing an action heroine but a scientist who is pretty normal person and she’s really scared and terrified. To be in the back of the bike with Jeremy was terrifying. Jeremy told me today, which was really sweet because he never told me in Manila was that it was the scariest stunt for him because he was responsible for my life. He didn’t tell me that in Manila and I thought good because if he’s scared then well. But I really didn’t have to act I just held on and was terrified.
How much more difficult were the combat films compared to “MI:4″ and “The Avengers” and is your character Aaron Cross ever going to meet up with Jason Bourne?
Jeremy Renner: The difficulties on set where always the same day to day, it really was no different they were all challenges. The guys I worked with on “The Avengers” were the same guys I worked with on Bourne so I had a running start, if anything it might have made it a little bit easier. As far as the future of my character I’m excited that the architectures have cleverly left it wide open for fans like myself who are wondering what the hell is going to go on next.
The difference between your character Jeremy and Jason Bourne is that your character wants to be an agent, how did that difference help you wrap yourself around a different Treadstone agent?
Jeremy Renner: Well I didn’t start out by comparing my character to another character. But yeah there are a new pallet of colors and a new canvas to paint upon. I felt connected to the idea of wanting to belong to something and that’s what I initially connected to. Trying to initially do something good.
Tony can you talk about the writing process since you wrote this with your brother?
Tony Gilroy: It wasn’t that bad we didn’t even have one argument, especially the way that we work. My philosophy is to surround myself around as many filmmakers as possible then you keep your ears open and ask what’s the better idea.
Tony did you look back at the aesthetic of the old Bourne films to integrate it into this film?
Tony Gilroy: Robert Elliot shot this film with me and he’s my super editor as well. We did spend a lot of time looking at the previous three films and we had a lot of conversations on what we should use that had already been there before. There was an inside baseball sort of way on how they shot it and approached the last three films. We had an advantage because we’re blowing open all the doors on this film with a new canvas. We had free reign with a slightly different visual vocabulary and when it got to the action it had to have the maximum testosterone as possible. I like knowing where I am in action sequences; a lot of the attention went into how could we keep the energy up.
Jeremy what was the biggest challenge in taking on this role?
Jeremy Renner: Not getting hurt. I was wanting to do as much as possible because of the authenticity of the three films prior I would do a great injustice and service to this film if I did not do what was required. I liked the challenges and getting physical.
Did you get hurt at all?
Jeremy Renner: You get banged up a little bit but if you don’t then you’re not working hard enough.
What’s the secret of getting the audience oriented and following along in an action scene?
Tony Gilroy: The secret is writing to the location and saying here is where we are whether it’s a street or its a set or whether it’s a monument or valley. Then step by step writing a script to every moment and not faking anything and not gutting any corners. Its just attention to detail, its just stitch after stitch after stitch. There is no short cut, it’s the same thing as trying to write behavior, if you want to write a characters behavior a lot of the times you want to short cut. You really have to get inside every single character and study them. The scene in the house went through a dozen drafts, we finally by the 10th pass were sending diagrams on what the house looks like then we would redesign the house and add other stuff to it. Then you rebuild the set to what you need.
Jeremy looking at the film now and with all the locations you shot at does the process ever feel daunting?
Jeremy Renner: Well I suppose you start running down hill that’s what it felt like the first time. For me it was about getting enough sleep and physically adapting. That was it everyday, fighting, stretching, and eating.
How long did it take you to film the motorcycle chase scene and what kind of conversations did you have about it?
Tony Gilroy: Well before there was even a script I got together with the stunt coordinator and told him this is what I have going on. First it started with what would be the best motorcycle chase scene that hasn’t been done and why hasn’t anyone done it before, why are they all limited in somewhat and how can we make it better. It goes from there to a script to visiting Manila and plotting out the places we are going to do it. Then it gets down to a bunch of grown men sitting at a table with a bunch of Matchbox Cars. If you thought about it all at once you would never do it.
We discover in this film that there are female agents out there just curious if you ever toyed with having a female lead? Rachel would you be interested in being that female lead?
Rachel Weisz: Yeah I would be up for it if the Gilroy’s wrote it.
Tony Gilroy: Well now we’ll start toying again.
Tony was it difficult getting the actors from the previous film to appear in this one?
Tony Gilroy: It was absolutely essential to have the characters come back for this film. If you see the film then you know how we use them, we even looked to see if we could get Julie Stiles back but there was no way because she was off on the run. Why they came back? I think everyone understands why they came back. We couldn’t have done it without them.
The Bourne Legacy is in theaters August 10th.