Oliver Wood, ‘Bourne’ Franchise and ‘Talladega Nights’ Cinematographer, Dies at 80

The British DP also lensed 53 episodes of “Miami Vice”

Jason Bourne Matt Damon Oliver Wood
Matt Damon stars in the Jason Bourne trilogy with Oliver Wood as cinematographer. ("Bourne" photo: Universal. Inset courtesy of Murtha Skouras Agency)

Oliver Wood, the veteran cinematographer behind several of the “Bourne” films, “Step Brothers,” “Talladega Nights” and “Face/Off,” died Monday, Feb. 13 of cancer, his representatives confirmed. He was 80.

The British director of photography acquired 60 credits over his five-decade career, including beloved action and comedy hits like “Die Hard 2” (1990), “Freaky Friday” (2003), “Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby” (2006), and “Jack Reacher: Never Go Back” (2016).

Born Feb. 21, 1942, Wood moved to New York City at age 19 and found work on B-movies such as cult crime film “The Honeymoon Killers” (1969) and as a camera operator on “Body Rock” (1984), among others. He broke out in the film industry following his work on “Miami Vice,” where he was primary DP from 1987 to 1989.

From there, he moved into the big leagues with ’90s films like “Die Hard 2” (1990), “Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey” (1991) and “Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit” (1993). He collaborated with a number of acclaimed directors: Paul Greengrass, John Woo, Renny Harlin, Michael Mann, Ron Underwood, Antoine Fuqua and Daniel Espinosa, to name a few. All the while, he shot commercials and music videos for the likes of Bob Giraldi and Rupert Wainwright.

In 2002, Wood embarked on the first installment of the Bourne Trilogy, scoring a BAFTA nomination for “The Bourne Ultimatum” in 2007. Wood is credited for the franchise’s spontaneous, naturalistic visual style using multiple and frequently handheld cameras. The action thriller franchise has earned more than $1.66 billion at the worldwide box office.

Much of his comedy work came from a fruitful partnership with director Adam McKay. Together they made “Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby” (2006), “Step Brothers” (2008), “The Other
Guys” (2010) and “Anchorman 2” (2013).

Wood most recently worked with Daniel Espinoza on last year’s “Morbius,” after previously collaborating with him on “Safe House” (2012) and “Child 44” (2015). He also shot the remake of “Ben-Hur,” utilizing GoPro cameras for the film’s action sequences, and state-of-the-art pre-visualization techniques.

“Bourne” producer Frank Marshall called him “one of the greats” in a tribute posted to Twitter.

“We lost one of the greats today, Oliver Wood, DP on the entire Bourne Trilogy, where ‘he used multiple cameras to create a distinctive, naturalistic effect… in turn introducing an era-defining style to Hollywood action films in the early 2000s,’” he wrote. “RIP Ollie.”

Wood is survived by his wife Sabine, daughters Katharine and Fiona, and son Emerson.