To many of us, the prospect of a fourth Bourne film without its star, Matt Damon, would be like trading out Daniel Radcliffe for the second half of Harry Potter 7. It's blasphemous. Bourne was, and always will be, Matt Damon's franchise. But for Universal Studios, the fact that Matt Damon doesn't want to play Jason Bourne anymore is no reason to scrap a perfectly good, billion dollar property. The only problem is, what leading man could possibly pick up where Damon left off?
Well, Tony Gilroy has a few ideas. Variety reports that the writer-director was in Hollywood this week, holding meetings with a number of young actors hoping to play the new lead in The Bourne Legacy, the first Bourne film not to feature Jason Bourne but a new assassin with a similar background. Insiders say Gilroy's list includes Jake Gyllenhaal, Tobey Maguire, Garrett Hedlund, Taylor Kitsch and Kellan Lutz, although lesser-known thesps will be screen-tested as well.
Gilroy and his casting team will have to work quickly if they want to begin production in the spring as planned, since no other casting decisions can be made until the lead is set. So far, say insiders, no front-runner has emerged.
If it were up to me, I'd drop Tobey Maguire, Taylor Kitsch, and Kellan Lutz from this list immediately. Maguire is the only one of the three with the acting chops for the role, but he won't hold up as a Damon-caliber action star. Peter Parker is not Jason Bourne. Jake Gyllenhaal, meanwhile, should be eliminated from this list by any studio exec with half a brain. Gyllenhaal had his chance to prove himself as an action hero in Prince of Persia -- and American audiences weren't convinced. Garrett Hedlund strikes me as the obvious choice of these five. He was solid as the male lead in Tron: Legacy and, most importantly, seems to have the right kind of machismo to fit into the Bourne universe. Not too sensitive, like Maguire, but not troll-like either (Lutz).
Remember, Tony Gilroy could still go with a relative unknown for the part, or another kind of leading man entirely -- although from the looks of these five men, Universal is looking to cast a younger actor, between the ages of 25 and 30. (Damon is 40.) Think you can do better? Let us hear your casting suggestions in the comments below.