The Dough Liman Identity


The name on the doorbell at director Doug Liman’s Tribeca loft is “Bourne J.,” which stands for Jason Bourne, hero of The Bourne Identity, Liman’s first blockbuster. As filmgoers recall, Jason Bourne lived in a fancy bourgeois apartment in Paris’s 8th Arrondissement. The entrance to Bourne J.’s building is cramped and grubby, as is the elevator. The apartment itself is long, narrow, and mostly empty. At one end, there is a desk and a bunch of power tools. At the other, a porch seat is suspended from the ceiling. The walls, which pitch inward, are a dirty white, the windows just dirty. There are two dead potted trees. The movie Bourne had, briefly, a wealthy businessman’s cover. Liman grew up a real rich kid on Fifth Avenue, and now is an A-list Hollywood director. But his cover appears to be that of a fun-loving grad student. “I’m theoretically in the middle of a renovation,” Liman tells me, though he’s lived in this loft eight years.

I find Liman, 42, sitting at a picniclike table he built out of antique pine, the apartment’s only table. He’s at work on Jumper, his $75 million movie about kids who teleport, which will be out next month. Just over his head is a colorful oil painting of his late father, one of many images in the loft of Arthur Liman. In fact, among ice skates, power tools, and dead foliage—there are more deceased plants on the fire escape—I count eleven images of Liman’s father. There’s a smiling photo of him at Yale and two framed front pages from the Times. And the desk belonged to his father. “He was the dominant relationship in my life,” Liman says fiercely. “It was like, ‘Go try anything, do anything.’”

Liman revered his father, a legendary attorney. Many people did. He represented America’s largest companies and also worked for the public good. He ran a legal clinic for the poor and served as lead counsel for the U.S. Senate’s Iran/contra investigation and for the New York State Attica commission.

(Source: New York Magazine)

Directors, Interview

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