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Matt Damon loved reprising Jason Bourne — yet again

Matt Damon, seen in "Jason Bourne," his fourth outing as the iconic action character. | Photo Credit: Universal Pictures

LAS VEGAS — Discussing his fourth stint in the role of Jason Bourne in the new film simply titled “Jason Bourne,” Matt Damon explained, “The mental part was easy, but the physical part was really a grind. To get back and look like this guy at age 45 was really a challenge.”

Since we all know the Bourne character as quite the tortured soul, it seems believable that the “torture” of the intense workouts — needed to get back into shape — helped Damon reconnect with Bourne’s mental state as well.

“Well, [returning “Bourne” director] Paul Greengrass said to me early on, ‘If the movie starts, and you look like you’ve lived well for the past 10 years — we have no movie! Whereas, if you look like you suffered, that’s going to ground the movie, and it’s a statement of intent, and people will go, ‘These guys showed up to do this — they’re not going to half-ass this.” ‘ ”

Damon nodded vigorously and admitted, “Paul was right, and I knew he was right the minute he said it.”

Commenting on his intense fighting with Vincent Cassel, Damon noted, “They have always been good — in all the ‘Bourne’ films — about pairing me with a really good fighter, a really good athlete. Vincent is a truly gifted physical performer, as well as a brilliant actor. He really knows how to move, so that was great.

“Fighting in a movie is like a dance. It requires both people to be in the right place at the right time. So, a great dance partner — in this case Vincent Cassel — makes you look better.”

He and the “Jason Bourne” team were able to convince co-star Alicia Vikander, who just won her first Oscar for “The Danish Girl” this past February, to pick their project over the many other opportunities on her plate.

Damon said he doesn’t see “what her boundaries are. I haven’t seen all of her work, but from what I have seen, she can do just about anything. I’ll be excited to see where she goes. She’s one of those generational talents who just explodes on to the scene. We were lucky to get her. Everybody, understandably, wants her to be in their movie right now. But it turns out she was a fan of the franchise. That won the day for us, thank God.”

One of the most memorable scenes in “Jason Bourne” was an amazing car chase in Vegas. “They told me afterward that we wrecked 170 cars, which seems completely irresponsible,” Damon said with a laugh. “But it works for the movie.”

Considering the complications of filming something like that, Damon admitted he was dumbfounded when told of the plans for that incredibly involved car chase — requiring the complete closing down of the famed Strip in the middle of Las Vegas.

“When they told me about it, I said, ‘You guys are from Europe. You don’t understand. This city never shuts down. It never sleeps. They will never close down the Strip.’

“But the whole schedule for the movie was built around that sequence. They told us exactly when we could come, which month would be the best and what hours in the night we could shoot. So we built everything around that, because it was that important to the overall impact of the movie.

“I still can’t believe it when I see it on-screen — with the Bellagio [hotel] in the background and cars flying all over the place. I still can’t believe they let us do it!”