The Boston Globe

‘Bourne’ director Doug Liman on reuniting with Matt Damon for a Boston-set heist comedy

- By Matt Juul globE StAff Matt Juul can be reached at

In 2002, matt Damon and director Doug liman took audiences by storm with “the bourne identity,” and launched what would become a fan-favorite franchise. After 22 years, the duo is back together this summer for another actionpack­ed flick that promises to be a bit more boston than bourne.

“the instigator­s,” which filmed in the city and other parts of massachuse­tts last year, pairs Damon with fellow boston actor casey Affleck in a heist comedy that centers around reluctant partners who rob a corrupt politician. but things don’t go as planned, and the two become “engulfed in a whirlwind of chaos, pursued not only by police but also by backward bureaucrat­s and vengeful crime bosses.”


While the official film synopsis sounds pretty gritty, liman, who joined the project to direct after receiving the script from Damon, calls “the instigator­s” a “character-driven comedy.”

“it’s a comedy, but it takes place in a world with real stakes,” liman told the globe in a recent Zoom interview. “in a world with real stakes, if you try to rob the mayor of boston, there’s going to be consequenc­es.”

“i love putting characters in extreme situations and sort of seeing what they do,” he added. “‘instigator­s’ gave me two fantastic characters played by two phenomenal actors to send on the run.”

liman, whose directoria­l credits include action flicks like 2014’s “Edge of tomorrow” starring tom cruise and the recent “Road house” remake with Jake gyllenhaal, jumped at the chance to do a comedy, which he hadn’t done since 1996’s “Swingers.” Affleck wrote the script alongside “city on a hill” creator and Quincy native chuck maclean.

“it was so funny, and i thought it was an opportunit­y to create such a unique heist movie,” liman said.

Along with Damon, casey’s big brother, ben, also helped produce the movie through their production company Artists Equity, with the film set for a limited theatrical release Aug. 2 before streaming on Apple tV+ the following week. teaming

‘There shouldn’t be that much talent coming out of, like, one neighborho­od in Boston.’

Doug limAN, director, on Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, and Casey Affleck

up with the three stars for a heist comedy set in their home city was a treat for liman.

“there shouldn’t be that much talent coming out of, like, one neighborho­od in boston,” liman said. “they’re not just talented — i mean casey and matt and ben, they’re wicked smart. that’s just exciting for me as a filmmaker to be collaborat­ing with people like that.”

getting to work with Damon again was particular­ly special for liman after their time together on “bourne.” the director praised Damon for his range as an actor, being able to bring both comedic chops and action-movie gravitas.

“he’s just so damn talented,” liman said. “What was really fun is that we were creating a character that was like the opposite of the last character we created, Jason bourne.”

“if matt can do ‘bourne identity’ and do ‘instigator­s,’ he really can do anything,” he said.

“the instigator­s” costars hong chau as a therapist to Damon’s character who gets roped into their heist gone wrong, as well as Jack harlow, Ving Rhames, Ron perlman, and Alfred molina.

liman said he felt like he was back in film school working with legends like molina. While the director was wracking his brain trying to give molina more lines in their first scene working together, the veteran actor offered some helpful advice.

“i’m thinking, ‘Jesus, how do i give him more lines?’” liman said. “And Alfred says to me, ‘i don’t think i should say any lines.’ We ultimately settled on him saying one word, and it’s like a five-minute scene, and he actually steals the scene with that one word.”

Another scene-stealer? the city itself. liman relied on his cast and crew of famous locals for insights into how to authentica­lly portray bay State characters.

“When you’re working with the Afflecks and Damon, you’re not getting this cliché, outsider view,” liman said. “the reality is, ‘instigator­s’ is about characters from Quincy, not from boston, and that specificit­y just helps me as a filmmaker have these characters make honest choices, even when i put them in extraordin­ary and insane situations.”

 ?? ApplE tV+ ?? From left: Casey Affleck, Doug Liman, and Matt Damon on the set of “The Instigator­s” in Boston.
ApplE tV+ From left: Casey Affleck, Doug Liman, and Matt Damon on the set of “The Instigator­s” in Boston.

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