In theaters and at home, Americans watched Matt Damon as Jason Bourne. In fact, the "The Bourne Identity" has the distinction of being the most rented film of 2003.
The film tells the story of Jason Bourne, an elite government agent with amnesia trying to uncover the secret of his own identity, as the government hunts him down.
This year, Jason Bourne is back on the run in the sequel "The Bourne Supremacy", once again starring Matt Damon.
"Generally ,when I see a movie I really like, I'm often disappointed by the sequel," Damon tells The Early Show co-anchor Rene Syler. "Nobody involved creatively with this one wanted to add their name to the list of offenders. We were careful before we decided to do it."
So the filmmakers decided to add another dimension to the trained assassin's personality, one of him going on a journey, not just of revenge, but of atonement. The film is based on author Robert Ludlum's series of best-selling spy thrillers.
Taking off from first installment, which ended with Jason Bourne and Marie settling down in a Greek village, "The Bourne Supremacy" begins with the couple finding Bourne's splintered nightmares turn into reality when a government operative arrives in their town.
The couple is on the run again, sparking off a global chase.
About his character, Damon notes, "He's getting these kind of fragments that he can't quite reach in his memory. And he's trying to put his whole past together so that he can move on with his life."
Career-wise, Damon says it was "Bourne Identity" that opened doors for him, though at first his clean-cut boyish good looks didn't exactly match that of Jason Bourne, a trained assassin.
"All of a sudden, people were offering me jobs again," Damon says. "It's a really insecure business, this one. So, you know, there's an ebb and flow to it, I guess. Before 'The Bourne Identity' came out, mine was ebbing."
On a personal level, he stresses the importance for him to keep that part of his life separate and private.
"I think it's necessarily necessary on all fronts," he says. "It helps preserves the sanctity of the relationship and also helps me to do my job. I mean, the more people know, the less they're going to be willing to accept you in a different role. I feel like people already know too much about most actors, me included. People know way more than they'd need to know to go see a movie. I didn't know anything about Brando, but I knew that I loved to watch him do his thing. And that was enough. So it's hard. It's just trying to find a balance."
"The Bourne Supremacy" opens nationwide on July 23.
Fast Facts About Matt Damon: Born Matthew Paige Damon in Cambridge, Mass., on Oct. 8, 1970. Attended Harvard University in Cambridge. Majored in English. As of 1998, was two semesters short of completing degree.Wrote first part of script that eventually became "Good Will Hunting". In 1988, made first screen appearance with one-line role of Adam Storke's younger brother in "Mystic Pizza". In 1990, played Brian Dennehy's medical school dropout kid in the made-for-cable TNT movie "Rising Son". In 1992, played anti-Semitic preppie in "School Ties". Nearly all the young men in "School Ties" had auditioned for the co-starring role in the 1992 hit "Scent of a Woman", but the plum role went to Chris O'Donnell. In fact, Damon and O'Donnell often competed for roles with the latter generally winning out. In 1993, played narrator of Walter Hill's revisionist Western "Geronimo: An American Legend", starring Gene Hackman and Wes Studi. In 1996, vividly portrayed guilt-ridden veteran of the Persian Gulf War with Denzel Washington in "Courage Under Fire". In 1997, with his clean-cut looks and killer smile, became Hollywood's Golden Boy as the star and co-author (with childhood buddy Ben Affleck) of the sleeper hit "Good Will Hunting". Also in 1997, before "Good Will Hunting" went before the cameras, landed his first screen lead as a newly-minted crusading attorney in Francis Ford Coppola's "The Rainmaker". The two leading roles (undoubtedly assisted by the resulting publicity for Damon and Affleck as writers and actors) solidified the actor's status as the "It" boy of 1997. Earned both Best Actor Academy Award nomination and shared an Oscar for Best Screenplay. In 1998, formed Pearl Street Productions (now known as LivePlanet) with Affleck and another longtime friend, Chris Moore. The company oversees Project Greenlight™, where young filmmakers can submit their original scripts to Affleck, Damon and Moore via an Internet competition. "Stolen Summer" (2002), "The Battle of Shaker Heights" (2003) and a third soon-to-be-released film are all products of Project Greenlight™. In 1998, impressively portrayed soldier whose three brothers have been killed in action in Steven Spielberg's WWII epic "Saving Private Ryan". In the same year, fared less well as the poker hustler-turned-law student who agrees to help his ex-con best friend in "Rounders", a redux of Martin Scorsese's 1974 drama "Mean Streets." In 1999, teamed with Ben Affleck to play a pair of fallen angels trying to get back into heaven in Kevin Smith's "Dogma". In 1999, took on the challenging role of an American who murders his traveling companion (Jude Law) and assumes his identity in Anthony Minghella's "The Talented Mr Ripley". In 2000, starred in "The Legend of Bagger Vance", directed by Robert Redford, and in "All the Pretty Horses", directed by Billy Bob Thornton. In 2001, appeared in the ensemble of "Ocean's Eleven" with George Clooney, Brad Pitt, and Julia Roberts, among others. In 2003, starred in "Gerry" with Casey Affleck; and opposite Greg Kinnear in the Farrelly brothers' comedy "Stuck On You". Later this year, will re-team with George Clooney, Brad Pitt and Julia Roberts for Steven Soderbergh in "Ocean's Twelve." Next year, will star with Heath Ledger in "The Brothers Grimm" for director Terry Gilliam. Will also star in geopolitical thriller "Syriana" for director Stephen Gaghan.