BY NANCY MILLS
editor Christopher Rouse
is a rarity. Normally, editors don’t write and writers don’t edit, but this
Costco member co-wrote
the blockbuster Jason
Bourne with the film’s
director, Paul Greengrass.
;en he disappeared into the editing suite and
brought his own words to life.
The Costco Connection: How did you and
Paul Greengrass ;rst meet?
Christopher Rouse: Frank Marshall [who
produced all the Bourne movies] recommended me as editor on ;e Bourne Supremacy. Paul and I had a long phone conversation,
and I knew I was speaking to a kindred soul. It
was an eye-opening conversation and an
incredibly unguarded job interview. He hired
me on the phone. ;at’s very unusual.
CC: How did this collaboration come about?
CR: Paul and I had talked about writing
something together from scratch and
explored several ideas in contemporary landscapes. One day I called him and said, “Some
of the areas we’ve been discussing could be
great for a Bourne movie.” I mentioned it to
Matt [Damon] as well. He became enthusiastic and encouraged us to pursue it. Paul was a
bit skeptical but said, “Why don’t you run
with it and see what happens.” I got far enough
for Paul to see a ;lm he might be interested in.
;en we jumped in together.
CC: You’ve made six ;lms with Paul: ;e
Bourne Supremacy, ;e Bourne Ultimatum,
Jason Bourne, United 93, Green Zone and
Captain Phillips. Describe your relationship.
CR: We’re like brothers. We’re very close
friends. We’d written together on several of
our projects. This time, Paul was outside
London and I was in Los Angeles. We’d work
on things concurrently. He’d send me material, and I’d send him material. We’d write
notes to each other. It took about a year.
CC: Did Paul stray from the script?
CR: He may go o; page because what he discovers with the actors feels more vibrant and
real. When the ;lm came into the cutting
room, he’d tell me, “I want to see your stron-gest take, how you’re responding to the ;lm
I shot.” ;en we’d get into a very dynamic,
creative discussion. It’s like playing jazz.
CC: How did you meld writing and editing?
CR: While I was writing, I was thinking about
editing. I thought about form and structure:
Who are the characters?
What are their needs,
goals and obstacles?
What’s the scene about?
What’s the most inter-
esting way to get them
from point A to point
B? Those calibrations
occur to me naturally.
My father was a screen-
writer and director, and he taught me to look
at editing as writing with ;lm.
CC: How hard was it to edit what you wrote?
CR: Under their breath editors will curse the
writer, but I couldn’t because he was right
there with me. The Athens sequence was
challenging, as was the third act in Las Vegas.
In both cases a lot of characters are coming to
bear on each other, and you’ve got to track
them all so they arrive when and where you
want them for the most dramatic e;ect.
CC: Did you and Paul aim for a certain style?
CR: At the heart of every Bourne ;lm is a guy
who’s a patriot who volunteers to protect his
country and is betrayed by the institutions
he believes in. ;at’s a palpable feeling today.
Paul’s handheld camera style works well
because it’s intense, visceral, emotional and
fragmented at times. You get glimpses of
things. It incorporates the camera and the
editing and is rooted in the character. Bourne
is always moving forward and restless. ;e
style is unsettled because the character is
unsettled in an unsettled world.
CC: Any uh-oh moments?
CR: Endings are always really hard. Who’s
le; standing? How are we going to give
Bourne a win at the end? It was one of
the last things we ;gured out, but now
we’re set up for another sequel. C
Nancy Mills is a Los Angeles–based journalist
who writes about ;lm and television.
Pulling double duty to create a blockbuster
Right: Matt Damon with
Julia Stiles as Nicky Parsons,
who risks all to help Bourne.
Below: Vincent Cassel plays
OUR DIGITAL EDITIONS
Click here for a behind-the-scenes motorcycle chase. (See page 11 for details.)
THE COSTCO CONNECTION
Jason Bourne (Item #1086086) is available
in BD/DVD/Digital HD Combo on 12/6.
OUR DIGITAL EDITIONS
Click here to watch the creation of a
stunt SWAT car. (See page 11 for details.)