Iconic Producer & Director Frank Marshall talks Jason Bourne, Sully, Assassin’s Creed, being married to Star Wars and… DJing? (EXCLUSIVE)

I recently had the honour of meeting legendary producer and director Frank Marshall. Across a career which started in the late 1960s, Mr Marshall has produced and directed some of the biggest movies in the history of cinema, from Batteries Not Included to Gremlins, Indiana Jones, Back to The Future, Jurassic Park, Jurassic World and even the upcoming Assassins Creed film.

Frank has been with us through all the Bourne films and now that the new Jason Bourne is on its home release, we got our chance to sit down with Frank Marshall and have a one on one chat about being best friends with Steven Spielberg, juggling being a husband to Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy (whom I’m sure was sitting next to him during this interview) and even his own production company. During out chat, we go behind the scenes on Jason Bourne and discuss movies, hobbies and even some inside gossip on the upcoming Assassins Creed movie.

Mr Marshall, I want to thank you for your time it really means a lot. As a producer, you’re the lucky one that has to make sure everything fits into place. How easy (or difficult) was it getting Matt Damon back into Bourne’s shoes for Jason Bourne?

It was easy once we had a good story. With the previous Bourne film with Matt Damon, both Matt and Paul (Director Paul Greengrass) said they would always come back if they had a great script, and certainly with only three books we didn’t really have any more books to go on. There was nowhere to guide us, so it took a while until we saw the wiki leaks ordeals, in which we got the idea to go the cyber route. Paul and Christopher Rouse (Writer and Executive Producer) together came up with the story. We showed the idea to Matt and he loved the idea, once we had the idea and Paul wanted to direct it, then it was pretty easy to get Matt Damon back.

You have been a Director and Producer through my entire 34 years on this planet. I grew up watching the films you produced such as Indiana Jones, Back to the Future, Gremlins, The Goonies, Batteries Not Included… and it’s your fault I had nightmares from Arachnophobia and I just wanted to say thanks for that.

*Laughing* You’re welcome!

How is it being best friends with Steven Spielberg and being the part founder of Amblin Entertainment?

Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones in Raiders of The Lost Ark
Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones in Raiders of The Lost Ark

I first worked with Steven back on Raiders (of The Lost Ark) then we went on to do Poltergeist and E.T. that Summer and Steven said “Geez, this was really fun, why don’t we form a company”?

So Steven, Kathy (Kathleen Kennedy) and I formed Amblin Entertainment and we have been great friends and collaborators ever since. Our kids went to school together, we car pool together and so I would say it’s been a good run.

Amblin is such an iconic emblem whenever we see it before a film we know it’s going to be something special. Now you have the Kennedy/Marshall Company with your beautiful wife Kathleen Kennedy, who is now also the President of Lucasfilm… does all of that sink in and do you ever get a chance to sit down and breathe?

Kathleen Kennedy & Frank Marshall
Kathleen Kennedy & Frank Marshall

Well… ‘jokingly’ I was actually thinking of changing the name and instead of K & M, maybe having just the M now. But yes, we feel very invigorated now, we love the film industry a lot and now that Kathy is looking after Lucasfilm and the Star Wars universe and I am basically running a company on my own. It has been good and we really enjoy it. We still get to see each other a lot so that’s a good thing.

What do you do in your down time? Any hobbies?

Well, I am a DJ so I love to DJ and getting up to date on all the latest music. I also build model trains. I have a HO train set I work on every time I have an extra hour or so, and they are in a room just outside the house. I love my athletics and sports too, so I attend a tonne of sporting events and I play guitar also. So I definitely keep busy.

I know it’s probably a tough question but other than Bourne of course, what has been one of the most memorable films you have been involved in up till now?

The one I liked the most? Shit! Well, the most satisfying recent film was Sully. Mainly because it was a story that everyone thought they knew and studios right and left turned it down for years. We finally gave the script to Mr (Clint) Eastwood and Mr (Tom) Hanks and they came on board because the script and story was a great one. Amazing really though because there really was only 208 seconds of action in the whole film. It really is a great human interest story and really about the human spirit. I am pretty proud of that one.

It is amazing, the performances and all the right people came together at the right time. It is a fresh anecdote to all of the big blockbuster super-hero movies and comic book films as of late. It is something that had a great response as well.

Jumping back to Jason Bourne now, the Las Vegas car sequences were gobsmacking, set piece after set piece seemed to have been crafted with finesse.

From the moment the SWAT van crashes into all those vehicles and they’re all sent flying, all the way to crashing through The Riviera Casino, were you involved with much of the destruction of that area of Las Vegas… and was that the real 60-Year-old Riviera Hotel & Casino used in the film before it was actually demolished?

Yes, it was one of the things I have always wanted to do, smash into a real Casino. Ordinarily, of course, you wouldn’t be able to do that, but when we found out that the Riviera was going to be torn down, we went and negotiated keeping it un-demolished for six more months so we could demolish it ourselves. That is why it looked so real, because it was!

Do you think we will we see him back again and possibly with Jeremy Renner’s character from Bourne Legacy?

I think because of the success of Jason Bourne, we will probably look forward to see where he might go first because we did establish a few new characters with Alicia Vikander and Riz Ahmed and there is a whole big cyber world out there now and Bourne kind of left it wide open at the end of the movie. We will see where it goes from there but I am hopeful it will happen.

Alicia Vikander & Matt Damon in Jason Bourne
Alicia Vikander & Matt Damon in Jason Bourne

Alicia Vikander was fantastic in her role in Jason Bourne, we have all learned she will be playing the new Tomb Raider (Lara Croft) in a new movie and here at Iris we love our films and video games and I noticed you have also produced the Assassin’s Creed movie! It looks brilliant… do you think this movie is going to break the bad video game to movie staple? The transition hasn’t had much luck in the past.

I hope so, I haven’t actually played the game myself and that was one of my main jobs, was to make sure the movie made sense to me. The amazing and talented Justin Kurzel has played it, him and his team has done such a brilliant job putting it all together.

We spent a lot of the time working together where I would say ‘this makes no sense to me’ and Justin would say ‘Well, in the game….’ And I would say ‘but we are not IN the game’.

Have you played the game yourself David?

Absolutely, yes!

Marion Cotillard & Michael Fassbender in Assassins Creed
Marion Cotillard & Michael Fassbender in Assassins Creed

So you know you don’t spend a lot of the time in the present day, you spend it mostly in the past. We have reversed that for the movie, so we have some really interesting characters in Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard to follow and it is all very stylized and when we do go back to the Spanish Inquisition, which we do several times, everything really pays off.

We have a story which is going on in present day as well as in the past and they get combined in the ‘Bleeding Effect’ which, as a player of the game you would understand is the ability to learn skills from the memories of the past and bring them into the present.

It is going to be a wild ride when it releases I’m sure of it!

Jason Bourne is Out Now on Blu-Ray, DVD and Digital. Read our review of the film HERE!