Back when "The Bourne Identity" hurtled into theaters in 2002, and became a surprise hit, Julia Stiles was a eye-eyed government operative who played by the rules.
My, how things have changed for Nicky Parsons. In "Jason Bourne," fourth in the series, Parsons has sided with renegade agent Bourne and is hellbent on sharing confidential CIA data with the world. The film has earned $72.2 million to date.
Playing Parsons changed Stiles' life "so much," she says. "I had to put extra pages in my passport because of these movies."
For Stiles, who broke out as a take-no-prisoners high schooler in 1999's "10 Things I Hate About You" and went on to earn an English degree from Columbia University, "Nicky has evolved organically just because of the passage of time. It's so exciting that she's out of the office. She's disillusioned with the CIA and what it's done to Jason Bourne. It's a very different turn for her."
Stiles, too, has grown up. Now, she's engaged to her camera-assistant boyfriend, Preston J. Cook. But she felt as giddy as a kid on Christmas morning when director Paul Greengrass told her he and Damon were making another "Bourne" movie together. "I was so happy when I got the call that they were going to make another and I had a part in it. I really liked what I get to do this time around. It was a nice reunion," she says.
Parsons no longer plays it safe. And she's out of her cloistered government office. "She has nothing to lose at this point. She's been running for her life. She gets to be quite tough," says Stiles. "I'm really proud to be part of an action movie franchise that's so current and relevant and set in a world that we recognize."
She means a world where so much of our lives are open books, shared with the world on social media. "Bourne" examines the fallacy of privacy and what it means.
Stiles, too, has Twitter and Instagram accounts, but she doesn't sweat it.
"I don't really have much to hide. I'm not so much on display. I don't worry about that. What the movie is commenting on is more on a bigger scale -- the government and the military," she says. "What I tried to access in filming was NIcky's ideology. I was trying to relate to her idealism. She's been through so much but she feels she can make a change. Being able to assert yourself comes with growing up."
Julia Stiles through the years
Julia Stiles through the years
Actress Julia Stiles poses during a photocall for the television Mini-series "Riviera" at the MIPTV, the International Television Programs Market, in Cannes, France, April 3, 2017. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard
The stars of the new made-for-television movie, "Before Women Had Wings" pose as they arrive for the film's premiere at the Directors Guild Theatre October 20 in Los Angeles. Shown (L-R) are Tina Majorino, Oprah Winfrey, Julia Stiles and Ellen Barkin. The film tells the story of a woman struggling to cope with her life and will be telecast on the ABC television network November 2. The production is part of a series titled "Oprah Winfrey Presents" which features original screenplays and adapations of prize-winning novels.
UNITED STATES - JANUARY 18: Actress Julia Stiles is on hand at launch party for the movie 'Down to Earth' at the club Chaos. She's in the film. (Photo by Richard Corkery/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)
Actress Julia Stiles arrives at the 2001 MTV Movie Awards on Saturday June 2, 2001 at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, CA. (Photo by Frank Micelotta/Getty Images)
Julia Stiles sitting in class in a scene from the film '10 Things I Hate About You', 1999. (Photo by Buena Vista/Getty Images)
Julia Stiles and Selma Blair at the premiere of 'A Guy Thing' at the Bruin Theatre and after-party at Napa restaurant in Westwood, Ca. Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2003. Photo by Kevin Winter/ImageDirect.
Julia Stiles during 'The Prince and Me' Hollywood Premiere - Red Carpet at Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, California, United States. (Photo by L. Cohen/WireImage)
Julia Stiles during 59th Annual Tony Awards - Red Carpet Arrivals at Radio City Music Hall in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by Gregory Pace/FilmMagic)
Julia Stiles at the Cinerma Society/DKNY Jeans screening of The Omen (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/WireImage)
Actress Julia Stiles arrives at the 68th Golden Globe Awards held at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills. (Photo by Frank Trapper/Corbis via Getty Images)
WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - SEPTEMBER 18: Actress Julia Stiles arrives for HBO's 63rd Annual Primetime Emmy Awards after party at Pacific Design Center on September 18, 2011 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Mark Sullivan/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 27: Julia Stiles attends Meet the Actor at the Apple Store Soho on March 27, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Jerritt Clark/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 07: James Wirt and Julia Stiles during the opening night curtain call for 'Phoenix' at the Cherry Lane Theatre on August 7, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Walter McBride/Getty Images)
Heath Ledger and Julia Stiles at swing in a scene from the film '10 Things I Hate About You', 1999. (Photo by Buena Vista/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 07: Julia Stiles visits 'Sway in The Morning' at SiriusXM Studio on July 7, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Rob Kim/Getty Images)
THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO -- Episode 1971 -- Pictured: (l-r) Actor Julia Stiles during an interview with host Jay Leno on January 2, 2001 -- (Photo by: Paul Drinkwater/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 16: Actors Julia Stiles (L) and Ben Foster (R) attend Urban Arts Partnership at the 15th annual The 24 Hour Plays On Broadway after party at BB King on November 16, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images for Urban Arts Partnership)