Will Matt Damon's 'Bourne' Be The Next Bond?

Actor's first action flick pulled from series of successful spy novels.

Hot on the heels of his buddy Ben Affleck's box-office-topping "The Sum of

All Fears," Matt Damon is ready for his action hero close-up with "The

Bourne Identity."

Damon plays Jason Bourne, who wakes up on a fishing boat with a couple of

bullets lodged in his back, a Swiss bank account number embedded in his

skin, a deep knowledge of foreign languages and the martial arts and

absolutely no recollection of who he is. Oh, and several assassins are

trying to kill him. "The Bourne Identity" follows Damon as he pieces

together his missing past while eluding his would-be killers in increasingly

creative ways.

"It was four or five months of martial arts and boxing and weapons

training," Damon said of his preparations for the role. "I do this for every

movie. For 'The Talented Mr. Ripley' I ended up stuck in a room playing the

piano for months and months. ... This was a lot more fun."

Damon is accompanied on his quest by Franka Potente ("Run Lola Run"), who

plays Marie, a girl Bourne offers $10,000 to give him a ride. The "Good Will

Hunting" star's first major action movie also includes a brief but vibrant

appearance from Julia Stiles ("Save the Last Dance") as a coordinator for

the team of bad guys hunting the amnesiac hero.

"The Bourne Identity"'s many action scenes are infused with heavy doses of

style, reminiscent of director Doug Liman's prior outings like "Swingers"

and "Go."

"I just really responded to the script and to Doug Liman, who I think is a

great director," Damon said. "Coming from the independent world, I just

figured he was going to do something pretty great with this one."

Liman isn't the first director to tackle this material. In 1988 Richard

Chamberlain, who starred as Allen Quartermain in 1987's "Allan Quartermain

and the Lost City of Gold," played Jason Bourne in a "Bourne Identity" TV


Though a spokesperson for Universal Pictures said there are no concrete

sequel plans, Internet rumblings have long suggested that "The Bourne

Identity" is intended as the first part of a trilogy, or perhaps even a

larger franchise. Which seems more than plausible considering that Jason

Bourne, like James Bond before him, is the fictitious star of a handful of

spy novels, including "The Bourne Supremacy" and "The Bourne Ultimatum."

Bourne was created by author Robert Ludlum, who wrote 21 bestsellers before

passing away at 73 in March 2001. Ludlum was widely regarded as a master of

suspense-filled and action-packed storytelling. He wove a variety of

intricate characters through several spy-oriented novels, and though Bourne

was perhaps his most popular protagonist, there were others, including

"Covert-One" series star Jon Smith.

If Damon proves to be as bankable an action star as Affleck, with whom he co-wrote and co-starred in the Oscar-winning "Good Will Hunting," Jason Bourne could well become the next

James Bond. "The Bourne Identity," moved back almost a year from its planned

fall 2001 release date, hits theaters June 14th.