'Avatar' Nearly Cast Chris Evans and Channing Tatum in Lead Role

James Cameron's Avatar currently holds the title of the highest-grossing film of all time, but it sounds like two genre fan-favorites almost stepped into the film's lead role.

During a recent appearance on the Empire Podcast, Cameron spoke about the process that went into casting Sam Worthington as Jake Sully, a paraplegic veteran who gets recruited into the avatar program and ultimately joins the Na'vi. As it turns out, Chris Evans and Channing Tatum both got pretty close to playing Jake, but didn't get the part for a very specific reason.

“Chris Evans, and Sam, and Channing Tatum. That was my choice,” Cameron revealed. “I really liked Channing’s appeal. I liked Chris’ appeal. They were both great guys. But Sam had a quality of voice and a quality of intensity. Everybody did about the same on all the material through the script, except for the final speech where he stands up and says, ‘This is our land, ride now, go as fast as the wind can carry you.’ That whole thing. I would have followed him into battle. And I wouldn’t have followed the other guys. They’ve since gone onto fantastic careers and all that, but Sam was ready. He was ready.”

While Evans and Tatum may not have made the final cut for Avatar, both went on to have pretty successful careers of their own. Evans has portrayed Captain America in the Marvel Cinematic Universe for almost a decade now, and Tatum has starred in the Jump Street, Magic Mike, and LEGO Movie franchises.

Audiences can soon see more of Worthington's portrayal of Jake, with the second of four proposed Avatar sequels expected to hit theaters next year.

“Jake eight years later, and he’s got a family now.” Worthington explained in a 2017 interview. “Essentially, it’s a movie about family. He’s been living in the world for a while now, so what’s this world he’s seeing now for the first time? The film will explore that within this family dynamic.”

"No, it’s a continuous character," Sigourney Weaver, who returns in the franchise as Grace Augustine, said in a recent interview. "We just finished shooting two and three. We shot it in LA and James has announced publicly that there’s a lot of underwater work, so we learned how to free dive and we did many scenes underwater which was challenging and kind of cool."

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"I’m so lucky because I always grew up near the water and I’m married to someone from Hawaii and I had learned to swim." Weaver continued. "Also, you have the best safety divers in the world. The one scary thing is sometimes you have to be weighted down to be on the bottom. Luckily, I would have a safety diver on each arm to get me back to the surface. I was grateful for that, because otherwise I would still be there."

Avatar 2 will be released on December 20, 2020.