Doug Liman

The Bourne Identity

Interviewed by Denise Hanrahan

What made you want to take on a big budget project like this?

I'd read the book growing up and loved it. Then I reread it while I was making "Swingers" and it held up to a second reading, which to me means that it's not about the plot, it's about the characters. So when "Swingers" became a huge hit, Hollywood opened their doors and told me I could do anything I wanted. I said, "there's this book that I really like" and they said "anything but that book". Reason been that Warner Bros controlled the rights. But eventually, I got a lucky break and discovered the rights were going to expire, asked Robert Ludlum's permission to do this film and he gave it to me.

Matt Damon seems an unusual choice for a leading action hero. Why did you choose him?

I met with a wide range of people when casting for the film, people like Russell Crowe and even Sly Stallone at one point. But when I sat down with Matt and explained that I wanted to take on an action movie but do it in a different way, I got the sense that he understood. He was coming from the same place I was coming from and I felt we could become partners on this. Plus, I'm a big Matt Damon fan.

The martial arts used in the film is a little known form called Kali. Where did you discover it?

The martial arts actually ended up being the thing that helped us define Jason Bourne and his entire character. Right after Matt agreed to do the film, we arranged for demonstrations of different martial arts and Kali really inspired us. It is ridiculously efficient. You don't break a sweat or expend any energy, you use your opponents energy against him. And we thought - that's Jason Bourne, that's how he'll do everything in this movie. He'll figure out the simplest, least energetic, most efficent way to get something done. For example, when the cops surround his car, he's going to calmly pull out the map, browse through it and figure out a route before he starts driving.

Do you have plans for another studio film?

I am an independent film maker at heart so that'll be how I will continue to do films: Indie credibility but maybe now with the studio perks. However, I do have about five TV series in development at the moment. I'm very interested in politics and I feel TV is a more political medium than film. It's also something I've never tried and I like to try new things.