He might not be quite as iconic as James Bond, but in the mythology of action heroes whose names begin with J, Jason Bourne comes pretty close to the top of the list.
First appearing in Robert Ludlum's novel The Bourne Identity, the cinematic Jason Bourne that we know and love was brought to the screen back in 2002 via the feature film of the same name as the novel and the face of Matt Damon.
Damon appeared again as Bourne in 2004's The Bourne Supremacy and 2007's The Bourne Ultimatum, but declined to return for the fourth installment due to director Paul Greengrass dropping out. But while Jeremy Renner took the reigns for The Bourne Legacy (2012) Damon will be back as Jason Bourne for the fifth installment in the series — the upcoming Jason Bourne (2016).
Given that Matt Damon's face is synonymous with the character, isn't it a little odd that the Jason Bourne of the surprisingly alright PS3 / Xbox 360 game Robert Ludlum's The Bourne Conspiracy doesn't look anything like him? Well it turns out there's a reason behind the not very Matt Damon-y face of the titular protagonist, and it's all to do with Damon being a bit of a chicken.
Okay, not a chicken. We'd never call Matt Damon a chicken, probably 'cause he'd kick our teeth in. But according to a conversation MTV had with Meelad Sadat — director of business relations for Bourne Conspiracy game developers High Moon Studios — Matt Damon "turned down an offer to be involved with The Bourne Conspiracy [video game]."
Apparently the Hollywood star was in negotiations for his voice and likeness to be used to once again portray the titular protagonist in the game, but when development was in the early stages "he took issue with the game’s level of violence and pulled out."
That may seem a little odd given that Damon made his name as an action star due to the Bourne series and The Departed, roles that certainly went a long way towards his leading man status.
However, Meelad Sadat later clarified that Damon's lack of involvement in the game may have had more to do with a lack of interest in video games in general rather than an outright aversion to violence.
"We got the sense that his interest in games overall was marginal, and we decided to move away from celebrity involvement and take our Bourne into an original direction."
However, Damon himself has commented on why he pulled out of getting involved with the game, stating that he wanted Robert Ludlum's The Bourne Conspiracy to be more puzzle focused rather than combat based, in the vein of popular '90s game Myst:
"I lobbied hard to not make a first-person shooter game but to make it more like Myst, which was a great interesting puzzle you tried to solve – you know, to play with his amnesia or his memory. They weren’t interested. They made the video anyway, without my likeness."
Perhaps this has something to do with the fact that his mother — Nancy Carlsson-Paige — is known for her research into the impact of media violence on children. Is this ironic given her son's line of work? Perhaps, but she's well aware of that fact.
And Damon himself seems to agree with her work, stating:
"I accept and agree with what she says - that it desensitizes kids, that there could be blowback from it."
Hmm. Take from what what you will.
Maybe this means we'll be seeing a puzzle focused The Martian video game sometime in the future, with Matt Damon portraying Mark Watney once again. Not gonna lie, that would actually be pretty great.