Universal Pictures

The Bourne Identity is one of the most thrilling action movies of the past two decades. Here are things you didn’t know about the film… 

1) Sylvester Stallone was offered the role of Jason Bourne

Known mainly for his role in Good Will Hunting, Matt Damon was not considered to be an action star, and was very unlikely to be cast at Jason Bourne. Sylvester Stallone, Russell Crowe and Brad Pitt were all offered the role before Damon. 

2) Real US Marines appeared as embassy guards

There’s a reason the US embassy guards in the film were so convincing. They were real US marines, who happened to be stationed in Europe at the time of filming. They wore their own uniforms, and advised the crew on how they would clear the Embassy in a real emergency. 

3)  The cold made Matt Damon slur his words 

Filming in Prague in January, Matt Damon was so cold during one scene, that he slurred his lines. They had to be recorded over later on during editing. 

Image: Universal Pictures

4) Matt Damon undertook intensive training 

Having been told to ‘walk like a boxer’ by director Doug Liman, as he thought it would help him find the character, Matt Damon undertook 6 months of boxing lessons, alongside gruelling martial arts and gun training. 

5) Camera men were banned from rehearsals

Doug Liman banned cameramen from the film’s rehearsals, so that they didn’t know which actor was going to speak next. This gave a much edgier, jumpier finish to the film, as the cameraman was always a little slow to whoever was speaking.

6) Liman flew himself to secure the film rights

The film is based on the 1980 novel of the same name by author Robert Ludlum. Sporting a pilots license, Director Doug Liman flew himself to Robert Ludlum’s home to discuss the film rights. He piloted the plane himself cross-country, and almost ran out of fuel on the way home. 

7) Smoke free zone 

Doug Liman wanted to set a better example in The Bourne Identity than in his film Swingers, so he banned smoking from the film. No characters smoke on screen at any point. 

8) The US Embassy was a bank

The scenes in the US embassy were actually filmed in a disused bank in Prague, which was about to be renovated into a luxury hotel; the Carlo IV, which you can still stay in today.

Image: Universal Pictures

9) Last minute action sequence 

Universal made a decision late-in-the-day that there needed to be an extra action sequence at the end of the movie, so the last 30 minutes had to be rewritten and shot in 10 days and in 2 different countries! The feud with the studio got so bad, Liman considered selling his credits as director on eBay.  

10) Only one explosion 

Unusual for a modern action movie, but adding some realism, there is only one explosion in each Jason Bourne movie! 

There you have it – 10 things you didn’t know about The Bourne Identity! 

Check out our Films section for more movie trivia.


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The Bourne Identity FAQs

How many Bourne Identity movies are there? 

In 2020, there are currently 5 movies in the Jason Bourne saga – The Bourne Identity (2002), The Bourne Supremacy (2004), The Bourne Ultimatum (2007), The Bourne Legacy (2012), and Jason Bourne (2016). Matt Damon plays Jason Bourne in all of the movies apart from The Bourne Legacy, in which the character is absent. The film instead focuses on Aaron Cross, played by Jeremy Renner. 

What was Operation Treadstone in Bourne Identity? 

In the Jason Bourne films, and the novels by Robert Ludlum, Operation Treadstone was a highly secretive black ops program from the Central Intelligence Agency. It aimed to take US service men and turn them into efficient, deadly, super-human assassins. 

Is The Bourne Identity the first movie? 

Coming out in 2002, The Bourne Identity is the first installment in the Jason Bourne film series – both in release date and in the series’ chronological storyline. It’s sequels were released as follows: The Bourne Supremacy (2004), The Bourne Ultimatum (2007), The Bourne Legacy (2012), and Jason Bourne (2016). 

Was Matt Damon the first actor to play Jason Bourne? 

Whilst Matt Damon plays Jason Bourne in the 2002 theatrical release, this wasn’t actually the first time Robert Ludlum’s character has appeared on screen! The novel was adapted into a TV movie which aired on ABC in 1988 with Richard Chamberlain playing the lead role. 

How much did The Bourne Identity cost to make? 

The budget for the 2002 action thriller was $60 million USD. 

What is the ending song in The Bourne Identity? 

‘Extreme Ways’ by Moby is played at the end of all 5 Jason Bourne movies. 

What fighting style is used in The Bourne Identity?

A mix of Kali and Jeet Kune Do martial arts were used by Jason Bourne in the film. Matt Damon studied under Jeff Imada in preparation for the film, who is an expert in both these martial art forms.

Who is the woman in The Bourne Identity?

German actress Franka Potente plays Marie Kreutz, which is the leading female role in the film.