Coming from someone who has only watched the Bourne series and never read the books, it came as a great surprise to me that Jeremey Renner is playing a different character in The Bourne Legacy.

Is there a specific production reason why they changed to a different character like Matt Damon or even the writers getting bored of Jason Bourne. Or is it as simple as the production wanting to tell this tale from someone else affected by the Treadstone program?

2 Answers 2


Wikipedia has a couple of pages of the reasons, with multiple links to detailed quotes if you are interested in those.

Here’s a summary:

Apparently they changed their minds about making Ultimatum the final movie and started on a fourth, which was to be original (i.e., not based on any books). The timing however did not fit nicely into their schedules and by the time they had something ready, director Paul Greengrass had moved on and Matt Damon had stated that he would not do another Bourne movie without him.

They decided to do a prequel (which was eventually changed to be parallel to Jason’s story) and after testing numerous actors, they settled on Renner. While Damon is not in the latest movie, producer Frank Marshall hopes to have Renner and Damon co-star in a future installment.

  • Bourne Legacy is not a prequel. The plot 'expands the conspiracy' after the events of Ultimatum and the timeline is supposed to be parallel.
    – Jacob G
    Aug 10, 2012 at 16:16
  • Yes, even from the trailers alone you get the sense of Jason Bourne already having done everything he did in the past 3 movies.
    – Tablemaker
    Aug 10, 2012 at 16:30
  • More of a parallel story no?
    – phwd
    Aug 10, 2012 at 21:16
  • @JacobG, Yes, Legacy is parallel, but they wanted to do a prequel; but when have plans ever worked out exactly as expected?
    – Synetech
    Aug 11, 2012 at 15:04

As I understand it, there was a desire to continue the Bourne franchise by the movie studio (and the Ludlum estate), however, the books didn't really support a continuation*. Here's a nice article explaining some of the reasoning.

Neither Damon nor "Ultimatum" director Paul Greengrass were interested in a round four, and "after those guys left, the studio and the estate [of 'Bourne' series author Robert Ludlum] were very aggressively trying to figure out what they were going to do next," Gilroy said. "I don't think I was the only person they were talking to."

*The books after the Bourne Ultimatum, which are not written by Ludlum, are basically unreadable and should not be considered part of the canon, imnsho.

  • Those books can't be any worse than Twilight
    – Tablemaker
    Aug 10, 2012 at 16:31
  • I haven't read Twilight, but one of the plots of the books involves Bourne's archenemy getting plastic surgery so that he looks like his [Bourne's] most trusted confidant.... and Bourne falls for it.... it's miserable.
    – Jacob G
    Aug 10, 2012 at 16:54
  • If written well that could be a good twist, but I'll assume from your disdain it is not written well at all.
    – Tablemaker
    Aug 10, 2012 at 18:20
  • 3
    It's just a little too unbelievable that an elite operative trained to recognize subtle nuance could be fooled by someone impersonating someone he knows so well.
    – Jacob G
    Aug 10, 2012 at 18:39
  • As long as you accept that the books are not written by Ludlum (and therefore will not be awesome) you can get through them if you just want something to read that continues the Bourne character in some fashion. But, I have to admit, when Van Lustbader killed off certain characters it kind of ruined it for me.
    – user1964
    Sep 6, 2012 at 22:34

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