2009 film Avatar was one of the first of its kind as James Cameron entered a bold endeavour of new-age film technology. It won three Oscars and a slew of other highly prestigious awards but according to a new interview, the sci-fi film could have looked a lot more different. Matt Damon – the iconic lead behind the Bourne Identity franchise – has revealed he was reportedly offered the role of Jake Sully.
The longtime star recalled the pitch James Cameron had given him, which included a deal of 10 percent of the film’s profits. That would later turn out to be $250 million USD (or over $350 million AUD).
“When [Cameron] 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 percent of [the film’s profits]” he told GQ.
Despite what would have been an extremely healthy salary, Damon also revealed the decision behind turning down the role. According to the now 48-year-old, it would have conflicted with the continual Bourne franchise. While he doesn’t regret walking away from the paycheck, he does regret not working with James Cameron.
“I’ve left more money on the table than any actor actually,” he said. “I mean, the bigger thing still to this day, my bigger regret is – it would have caused a problem for [director of ‘The Bourne Ultimatum’] Paul Greengrass and for all my friends on ‘The Bourne Ultimatum,’ so I couldn’t do it.”
“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,” he said. “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.”