Matt Damon has starred in a bunch of critically and commercially successful films, but he’s arguably the most famous for his role in the Bourne franchise. Playing Jason Bourne, an ex-CIA assassin with amnesia, he travels the globe looking for information that will help him remember who he is.
Bourne is unique from other secret agent characters such as James Bond, largely due to the fact that he never uses gadgets or advanced technology to get the job done. He relies solely on his fists and his improvisation skills, using anything in his radius as a weapon.
Damon recently admitted that this was extremely intentional, as Bourne creative team wanted him to be the complete opposite of Bond.
Matt Damon’s Jason Bourne character was designed to be the anti-James Bond
Damon explained the methodology behind creating his iconic character during a recent interview with Desus & Mero.
“With the Bourne movies, we were playing on the idea that James Bond — we wanted to make him kind of the anti-James Bond,” Damon said.
Going into detail, Damon explained that Bond is known for being a secret agent with tons of advanced technology to help him on his missions. However, Bourne has very limited resources as an exiled CIA assassin, so he has to creatively use whatever is in his proximity.
“James Bond always has gadgets, right? ‘Well here’s a special pen that turns into a helicopter,’ you know what I mean?” Damon said. “And then it’s like it comes and it rescues him, or he can use it all of these situations. And we just kind of wanted to underline the point that Bourne got nothing like that. He’s just got to pick something up … He’s got to figure it out with a magazine and a toaster. And he’s like, ‘Alright, I got that.’
He studied boxing to make Jason Bourne look more credible
Bourne relies solely on his training, instincts, and physicality to keep him alive, and Damon had to do a ton of preparation to make the character look authentic.
“It was about trying to be credible as a character that was — I look young, I look Opie,” Damon told NPR. “And to try to be a guy who’s this lethal assassin, I had long conversations with the director of the first film, Doug Liman. And we were trying to crack it and figure out how to do it.
In order to make Bourne look more realistic on-screen, Damon enrolled in boxing classes.
“He came up with a great idea, which was he always saw boxers, and the way boxers move, and the way boxers walk. There was this kind of momentum that they had, and the directness that they had. So I boxed for six months, just to try to change the way that I walked,” Damon said.
Matt Damon was comfortable with weapons and combat by the time he filmed ‘The Bourne Identity’
After several months of training, Damon noticed that his movements and posture had changed.
“To convey a certain security with my own personal space, basically,” Damon told NPR. “Where he’s looking, all of that stuff really gets informed by the kind of muscle memory of something like boxing and getting punches thrown at you and throwing punches at somebody. If you do it enough, it does change the way you carry yourself.”
Damon also did extensive martial arts and weapons training in the months leading up to The Bourne Identity’s filming, which allowed him to convincingly play the mysterious, menacing character that viewers have come to love.
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