Matt Damon's filmography has had some pretty interesting milestones throughout the years, from award-winning fare like Good Will Hunting and The Martian to box office bombs like The Great Wall and Downsizing. As it turns out, that list almost included one of the highest-grossing films of all time. In a recent interview with British GQ, Damon revealed that he turned down the lead role in James Cameron's Avatar, which ultimately went to Clash of the Titans star Sam Worthington. This is despite the fact that, according to Damon, the offer included ten percent of the film's profits.
"Jim Cameron offered me Avatar." Damon explained. "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 ten per cent of...' So, on the subject of money..."
With Avatar ultimately going on to earn $2.79 billion at the global box office, this means that Damon could have hypothetically earned $250 million if he had taken the role. If reading those numbers made your jaw drop a little, it sounds like you're not alone.
"I told John Krasinski this story when we were writing Promised Land." Damon continued. "We’re writing this movie about fracking. We’re writing in the kitchen and we’re on a break and I tell him the story and he goes, 'What?' And he stands up and he starts pacing in the kitchen. He goes, 'OK. OK. OK. OK. OK.' He goes, 'If you had done that movie, nothing in your life would be different. Nothing in your life would be different at all. Except that, right now, we would be having this conversation in space.' So, yeah. I’ve left more money on the table than any actor actually."
While some would understandably regret turning down that massive of a paycheck, Damon revealed that he's bummed it didn't come to fruition for one specific reason.
"I mean, the bigger thing still to this day, my bigger regret is – it would have caused a problem for Paul Greengrass and for all my friends on The Bourne Ultimatum, so I couldn’t do it." Damon explained. But Cameron said to me in the course of that conversation, 'Well, you know, I’ve only made six movies.' I didn’t realize that. He works so infrequently, but his movies, you know all of them. So it feels like he’s made more than he has. I realized in having to say no that I was probably passing on the chance to ever work with him. So that sucked and that’s still brutal. But my kids are all eating. I’m doing OK."
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Avatar 2 - which will not include Matt Damon - will be released on December 17, 2021.