While speaking with GQ to promote Ford v Ferarri, actor Matt Damon revealed that he turned down 10% of Avatar’s box office to play the role of Jake Sully and also likely any chance of working with James Cameron in the future.
DAMON: “But in a related story… Jim Cameron offered me Avatar. 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…”
He also revealed that the Avatar shoot could have come in direct conflict with Paul Greengrass’ The Bourne Ultimatum, considered to be the best flick in that franchise.
DAMON: “So, yeah. I’ve left more money on the table than any actor actually. 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 – but Cameron said to me in the course of that conversation, “Well, you know, I’ve only made six movies.” I didn’t realise 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 realised 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.”
Wow, is really all I have to say when you consider that Avatar’s box office total globally was $2.79 billion and Damon would have seen a rather obscene amount of money for that single role.
James Cameron did end up going with an unknown Australian actor Sam Worthington and it launched his Hollywood blockbuster career for a time.
Captain America actor Chris Evans had also been in the mix for the role.
The live-action portion of the Avatar sequels’ shoot (Avatar 2-5) is currently taking place at Stone Street Studios in Wellington, New Zealand and Avatar 2 is expected to be released by Disney/Fox on December 18th, 2020.