Compiled by: Jack Foley
Q. After you did The
Bourne Identity, you were adamant that you wouldn't do the
A. Yeah. I was really sceptical about doing the second
one because it's just very hard to make a good sequel. A friend
of mine said to me, 'You have to be really careful about doing
sequels because there are only three sequels in history that are
better than the originals. The New Testament is better than the
Old Testament, Huck Finn is better than Tom Sawyer and The Godfather
2 is better than The Godfather.
Q. So what changed your mind?
A. When Paul Greengrass came along. He's one of my favourite
directors, Bloody Sunday is one of my favourite films in recent
years, and once I started to talk to him about his vision for
the movie, and heard his enthusiasm, I just felt like I couldn't
He had such a definite idea of what he wanted to do; a bold sequel
that wasn't going to shy away from the darker stuff, and I liked
the idea of taking a revenge story and kind of turning it on its
head a bit.
Q. It's quite a violent film?
A. There is a lot of violence but one thing I like about
it is that you see the consequences of the violence. That's a
good thing to see in a movie, at a time when everybody is hell-bent
on revenge. And you don't see many mainstream movies where the
protagonist shoots a woman in the face.
Normally, the protagonists, in big Hollywood movies, tend to be
simple characters because the studios don't want to take risks
when they're spending so much money. You know, the good guy has
to wear a white hat and the bad guy has to twist his moustache.
But with this, the studio allowed us to make the guy more complicated
than that. He's a deeply-flawed character and so I was in a good
mood going to work each day, because I had something to play,
rather than kind of twiddling my thumbs playing a bland good guy
Q. It's a very physical role, did you do have to do a
lot of training to prepare for it?
A. I did, but I enjoy the training. It really helps,
the boxing especially. I started boxing three months before shooting
That came from the first one where the director said, 'I want
you to walk like a boxer, I think there's a directness and efficiency
to the way they walk'. So I went to a gym and started taking boxing
It changed my body but it also changed my bearing, the way I carried
myself. We had to do it because, in the book, Jason Bourne is
ten years older than me, and I already look young for my age,
so we needed to do everything we could to make me as believable
Q. You said the first film was a tough shoot in Paris,
how was this one?
A. Well, Paris a very tough place to make movies. You
have to have a permit for everything, you have to tell them exactly
where every truck is going to be parked. They just make it hard
and they can, because it's Paris.
But shooting went much more smoothly this time. Berlin was incredibly
accessible. The only drawback was that we were there in the Winter,
when there's not a lot of sunshine.
Q. You spoke French in the
first one, German and Russian in this one. How good are you at
A. Not very good. I can speak a bit of Spanish and that's
it. The way we did it was that I stood there with a dialect coach
and they made me say the lines over and over until they sounded
remotely German or Russian. But French was the hardest. I have
the worst French accent in the world.
Q. Will you make a third Bourne movie?
A. I'm considering it, but I really feel like I did at
the end of the first one. I'm very happy to leave it at this.
It was a lot of pressure, and now that's gone, because I'm very
happy with the way the movie has turned out.
To go and do the third one, we'd have to get a great script and
it's hard because, personally, I don't have an idea about where
to go with it. But who knows? Maybe there's a rocket scientist
out there who can figure it out.
Q. How do you choose your projects?
A. It's usually the same three things, the script, the
director and the role. Really, if I get any two of those, then
that's usually enough. Even if the roles are kind of similar,
like when I did Rounders after Good Will Hunting, people said,
' Oh, it's Will playing cards'. I don't mind if they're good.
Q. You seem to work non-stop: you did this, Brothers
Grimm, with Terry Gilliam, and now it's Ocean's
A. It's hard for me to turn down work because, for so
many years, I was desperate to get a job and I couldn't. Like
I swore I was going to take a break after Ocean's Twelve, but
now I'm going to do The Informant, with Steven Soderbergh, and
then a thriller called Syriana.
They're just really well-written scripts and I feel like I'd regret
saying, 'no', just because I'm ready for a break. So I don't know
if it's as much about being a workaholic as it is about using
my common sense and feeling like these movies are really good.
Q. How has it been making Ocean's
Twelve? There have been lots of photos of you and Brad Pitt
and George Clooney relaxing on boats on Lake Como.
A. It's been really good for all of us. I mean, Brad
goes from a movie like Troy, and I
come from a movie like this, and then we show up on Ocean's, and,
suddenly, the workload is divided 12 ways, so we work less. It
does feel like a vacation in that sense, but you still have to
keep your eye on the ball.
Q. Do you feel more comfortable in the spotlight now?
A. Well I've kind of avoided all that up till now, and
I don't see that really changing. After Good Will Hunting, the
paparazzi followed me around for about a week, and then they realised
they had the story and it was over.
I think, in most cases, you kind of get back what you put out.
I think of the story of Michael Jackson and Bruce Springsteen,
in the Eighties, when they both had huge records out, and Michael
Jackson couldn't leave his house, but you could see Springsteen
at a corner bar. He just exuded a normalcy and he was allowed
to have that because he wasn't trying to be a super-celebrity.
Q. Is that why you live in New York rather than LA?
A. Yeah, although I don't know if you get more attention
in LA than anywhere else. I mean, LA and New York tend to be the
places where you get the least hassle. Generally, in New York
nobody really cares or if they do, then they're too cool to say
Q. Do you have to be careful when you're out and about?
A. Occasionally. If I'm in a public place, then I won't
do something stupid that, with the right people and the right
amount of alcohol, I might have done. I mean, even in our thirties
we do stupid shit sometimes.