Matt Damon turned down the lead role in "Paycheck" because the "Bourne Identity" star didn't want to play another amnesiac hero. And now, having successfully recommended pal Ben Affleck for the job, Damon is in Europe reprising the Jason Bourne character in "The Bourne Supremacy," which started shooting in November.
Based on the series of spy novels by Robert Ludlum, "The Bourne Identity" established Damon as a viable action star and provided his biggest commercial success since "Good Will Hunting," earning more than $120 million domestically.
"The Bourne Supremacy," the second part of a proposed trilogy from Universal, sees Joan Allen ("Face/Off") and Karl Urban ("The Lord of the Rings") joining Damon, whose character must identify the assassin who's using the Bourne identity for dirty deeds and getting him in a lot of trouble.
Brian Cox ("X2") returns as Ward Abbott, and Franka Potente ("Blow"), Damon's love interest in the first, has a cameo. Julia Stiles ("Mona Lisa Smile") is back as well, in an expanded role as Nicolette, the CIA agent who was tracking down Damon's amnesiac assassin in the first flick.
"I get to be interrogated by Joan Allen," revealed Stiles, who will join the rest of the cast in Berlin at the end of the month.
"Jason Bourne is still sort of tormented mentally by his experience working for the CIA," she explained. "He's still on the run and the CIA is tracking him down. But they think that I was in cahoots with him because I'm the only one that survived when my boss, played by Chris Cooper, died. It's exciting and I'm looking forward to it."
Director Doug Liman, who struggled with numerous production problems on "The Bourne Identity," will not be returning. Instead, English director Paul Greengrass, whose gritty drama "Bloody Sunday" was much acclaimed but not widely seen, is heading things up.
Though he enjoyed Liman's take on the first (see "Will Matt Damon's 'Bourne' Be The Next Bond?"), Damon said last year he was only interested in making a sequel if the script promised to top the original (see "Matt Damon Working With The Usual Suspects On New Projects"). The screenplay ended up being written by "The Bourne Identity" co-writer Tony Gilroy, whose credits also include "Proof of Life."
"The Bourne Supremacy" is scheduled to finish shooting sometime in February and is due in theaters July 23.