Bourne Ultimatum: Interview with Greengrass

Interview with Director Paul Greengrass

The first two films were very good at being powered by questions. Who Am I Who Killed My Girl And the answers that he gets in these movies are satisfying, but not complete. This third film has got to be about answers. By the end of this film, you’ve got to understand how Jason Bourne became Jason Bourne–Director Paul Greengrass

In “The Bourne Identity” (2002), Jason tried to discover who he was. In “The Bourne Supremacy” (2004), he exacted revenge for what was done to him. Now he is coming home and has only these words for his pursuers: I remember everything.” Greengrass (Oscar-nominated for “United 93”) again directs a breathtaking espionage thriller that allows moviegoers to crisscross the globe and follow one man as he stays ahead of his would-be assassins.

Bourne is a Real Man

The character unfolds in a contemporary landscape, and that’s really important. Unlike this summer’s comic book movies and CGI superheroes, Jason Bourne is a real man. He’s on the run in our world, and he’s looking for answers. That’s part of what makes the franchise unique and special

Outlaw Story

The CIA and world of intelligence intrigues me because it’s a place of intrigue and conspiracy. The story of Bourne is the story of an outlaw, except he is not an outlaw in a Western landscape but in a contemporary landscape. It’s not the sheriffs who are trying to bring him in; it’s the CIA officers, but the story has the same shape as a Western.

Compelling Tale

The challenge is to create a believable contemporary landscape and then allowing this iconic figure to be propelled through it. Jason is on the run, out there. Jason is Us against Them. The system is corrupt and he’s got to find answers. He has to overcome his mistakes, the darkness of his past, and renounce his past. He has to build a better future, to move towards the light. That’s a compelling struggle and that’s what drives him. It’s also universal: Which of us have not made mistakes that we’d rather turn a page.

Matt Damon

Matt and I have the same instincts for Bourne, the film, and the franchise. Matt is unfailingly accurate. There’s something about him as an actor that makes audiences know he is a good guy. He’s a wonderful player of parts where the character is actually very dark. There’s a yearning in that character to be good that speaks to people, particularly young people.

Joan Allen

Many viewers were eager for Joan Allen’s return to the series. Joan brings a cool, cerebral intelligence to her role, Pamela Landy. You feel her watchfulness. She anchors the CIA side of the story.

Pushing the Envelope

All of Bourne films are not only quests, they’re journeys. I was adamant that this episode would push the envelope in travel. I wanted a contemporary landscape, and I liked the idea of uniting London, Madrid, and New York. There are bits in Moscow and a big piece in Tangier.


It’s an exciting, suspenseful thriller, and as such, it’s got to have this labyrinthine, conspirational plot set in European locations. It requires a lot of handheld camera and hands-on filmmaking to convey this urgent feel. To accomplish that, I relied on the mixture of people in the teams that have come together to make this film.

In Praise of Hollywood

I have made a series of films (“Bloody Sunday”) about real political issues that interest me, and I made then in a certain way. But I’ve been very lucky in my life to come to Hollywood to make big pictures and to entertain people. That’s not something that I ever intended to do, to be absolutely honest. It came about by chance and they asked me, and I fancied the adventure and loved it. What I most loved was finding that I could entertain people, that what I did was accessible to the mainstream.