Matt Damon turned down 'Avatar' lead role, lost out on $250 mn payout
London: Matt Damon has revealed filmmaker James Cameron had originally offered 2009 sci-fi epic "Avatar" to him but the actor turned him down as it could have caused problems for director Paul Greengrass' "The Bourne Ultimatum".
The role of disabled former marine Jake Sully in the visual spectacle later went to Sam Worthington and the movie earned USD 2.79 billion at the global box office.
Damon said the offer included 10 per cent of the film's profits; he lost out on USD 250 million.
But for the actor the bigger regret was passing on the opportunity to work with Cameron, an iconic director who works infrequently.
"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..." Damon told British GQ magazine.
The Jason Bourne actor said losing out on working with Cameron "sucked and that's still brutal".
"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... But my kids are all eating. I'm doing ok," Damon said.
The actor said he shared the story of passing on the film with actor-director John Krasinski when they were writing 2012's "Promised Land", in which they also starred.
"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," he added.
In February, Cameron revealed Hollywood stars Chris Evans and Channing Tatum had auditioned for the lead role in "Avatar", before zeroing in on Worthington.
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