Universal taps 'Michael Clayton' helmer for sequel

Tony Gilroy won’t just write the fourth installment in Universal’s Jason Bourne franchise — he’ll direct it as well.

And while there’s still no script for “The Bourne Legacy,” Gilroy’s story arc would allow for Matt Damon to reprise his role as Jason Bourne, but Damon’s return wouldn’t be necessary, according to insiders close to the project. This means the studio will be seeking a new lead.

Gilroy was already was aboard to ink the script for “Bourne Legacy,” having penned the first three films in the blockbuster spy franchise.

Earlier this year, Damon said he wouldn’t do “Bourne 4″ unless Paul Greengrass — who helmed the second and third installments — returned, which Greengrass isn’t.

But those close to the project say the right script could change Damon’s mind.

Universal was considering putting Gilroy in the director’s chair when it cut the writing deal with him.

“Bourne 4″ will mark only the third film that the prolific scribe has helmed after “Duplicity” and “Michael Clayton.”

Frank Marshall and Pat Crowley are back to produce, alongside Captivate Entertainment’s Jeffrey Weiner and Ben Smith.

U has hinted that it hopes to release the pic in 2012.

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