Over his multi-decade career, Matt Damon has made memorable films, earned big paychecks, and won awards. But had he taken the lead role in Avatar, he might be running his own Hollywood studio by now.
In an interview with British GQ about his upcoming film Ford v Ferrari with Christian Bale, Damon revealed that he was offered the lead role in Avatar, which he passed on and eventually went to Australian actor Sam Worthington. But Damon didn’t just miss out on starring in the film, he also revealed that he could have made a small fortune if he took the role for director James Cameron.
“Jim Cameron offered me Avatar,” Damon said. “And when he offered it to me, he goes, ‘Now, listen. I don’t need anybody. I don’t need a name for this, a named actor. If you don’t take this, I’m going to find an unknown actor and give it to him, because the movie doesn’t really need you. But if you take the part, I’ll give you 10 percent of…[the gross].”
Avatar made $2.78 billion at the box office, holding the all-time record until Avengers: Endgame broke it in 2019. Had Damon took the role, he could have made around $250 million. Damon turned down the role in part because he was scheduled to work on one of the Bourne movies and didn’t want to let the crew down: Damon said his biggest regret if he took the role would have been to “all my friends on The Bourne Ultimatum..I couldn’t do it,” he said.
Damon continued the story, revealing how his friend, actor John Krasinski, reacted when he told him: “I told John Krasinski this story when we were writing Promised Land,” Damon said. “I tell him the story and he goes, ‘What?’ And he stands up and he starts pacing in the kitchen.” Damon then described Krasinski telling him “had he been cast in Avatar, nothing in his life would’ve been different…except right now, we would be having this conversation in space.”
“So, yeah. I’ve left more money on the table than any actor actually,” Damon said. “That sucked and that’s still brutal. But my kids are all eating. I’m doing OK.”
Damon will next be seen in Ford v Ferrari with Christian Bale, which will be released on November 15.
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