After word came out via Deadline last Tuesday that Tony Gilroy had been signed to direct the fourth Jason Bourne film, Bourne Legacy, the next logical question being thrown about was whether or not Matt Damon would be involved.

Damon had stated he would only return if Paul Greengrass were the director, so with Gilroy’s signing it began to look like the role would have to go to someone else.

Now comes word from Hollywood Elsewhere that not only will Damon NOT be back, but neither will the character of Jason Bourne!

Tony Gilroy wanted to correct a few things that were in the original report from Deadline, and here’s what he had to say:

“It’s a completely original screenplay. This is not a reboot or a recast or a prequel. No one’s replacing Matt Damon. There will be a whole new hero, a whole new chapter…this is a stand-alone project.

“The easiest way to think of it is an expansion or a reveal. Jason Bourne will not be in this film, but he’s very much alive. What happened in the first three films is the trigger for what happens. I’m building a legend and an environment and a wider conspiracy… the world we’re making enhances and advances and invites Jason Bourne’s return [down the road].

“Everything you saw in the first three films actually happened, and everyone who got into will be rewarded for paying attention. We’re going to show you the bigger picture, the bigger canvas. When you see what we’re going and see what we’re doing it’ll be pretty obvious…. but Jason Bourne’s actvities in the first three films is the immediate trigger.”

Wow, not sure how this is all going to come together. I can’t think of a franchise – especially one as high-profile as this – that has jettisoned its main character in such a fashion. If the title remains Bourne Legacy they might have a hard time selling it without Damon and Jason Bourne, so don’t be surprised if they’re forced to change it.

Thanks to Felix for the tip.