The Bourne Identity's Most Romantic Scene Wasn't Romantic At All On Set

Matt Damon was a certified Oscar winner and movie star by the time he took on the role of Jason Bourne for "The Bourne Identity" in 2002. Both Damon and director Doug Liman were feeling some anxiety, however, about shooting the love scene that comes about halfway through the otherwise action-driven film. Thankfully, Franka Potente, the star of "Run Lola Run," was there with a bottle of Jägermeister to give them a little liquid courage. 

It's not the first time we've heard of an actor and director doing some drinking to loosen up before running through one or more scenes.

In "The Bourne Identity," Potente's character, Marie, is a German woman who gets caught up with Bourne after he offers her money to drive him from Switzerland to France. On the run from police and black ops agents, they wind up in a Paris hotel, where Bourne dyes Marie's hair and cuts it for her. It's an intimate moment that tips over into something more as Marie gets closer and kisses the reluctant Bourne. It turns out Potente took the lead on the set, too. As Liman later told The Ringer:

"She turned to Matt and me and she says, 'You each need to do a couple of [Jägermeister] shots to just loosen the f*** up.' It was the only time I've ever drunk on set. And I'm operating the camera—like, it could go south pretty quickly."

'What you're seeing is my awkwardness'

Doug Liman had his breakout feature in 1996 with the rom-com "Swingers," which contains one humorous scene where writer and star Jon Favreau's character digs himself a deeper and deeper hole with a series of socially awkward answering-machine messages. It seems that Liman brought a similar kind of nervous energy to the filming of the love scene in "The Bourne Identity."

If you watch the scene, Bourne actually tries to go around Marie a couple of times, but she gently blocks him in with her. It's a reflection of how Liman felt as he was directing. He continued:

"If [Bourne] had been James Bond and I was directing that scene, it probably would have looked the same, and people would have been like, 'Why is James Bond looking so reticent?' What you're seeing is my awkwardness ... they sort of look at each other in the eyes and start kissing. I don't know what that look is because maybe I've never experienced it. ... He's trying to get past her. He's trying to get out of the scene the same way [I am]."

What's funny is that, as Bourne and Marie's kiss becomes more passionate, the camera actually does exit the scene, floating out the door and then out of the building and across the street, as if it wants to get as far away from this display of affection as possible. Ultimately, Liman and Damon both seem to have been in synch with how Bourne was feeling during that scene, while Potente also took on the more assertive quality of her character on the set. Maybe this was just what the scene needed in order to provide "The Bourne Identity" with a memorable moment of passion and romantic downtime in-between all the action.