Matt Damon Reveals Why He Turned Down a $250 Million Role in 'Avatar'
By Scott Baumgartner
MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images
Matt Damon turned down one of the most lucrative acting roles of all time.
The Oscar winner and his Ford v Ferrari co-star, Christian Bale, recently sat down for an interview with British GQ for their latest cover story, where he admitted that, back in the day, he was offered the lead role in Avatar, which would have come with an astonishing amount of money.
"Jim Cameron offered me Avatar," he tells the magazine. "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 gonna 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 10 percent of…'"
The publication since did the math, which roughly would have earned the 48-year-old actor around $250 million! The role eventually went to Sam Worthington.
"I told John Krasinski this story when we were writing Promised Land. We're writing this movie about fracking," Damon shares. "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.'"
Damon admits that he regrets the decision to pass on the award-winning blockbuster, which has four sequels on the way -- however, his reason isn't the mountain of money he missed out on.
"So, yeah. I've left more money on the table than any actor, actually," he admits. "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 realize that."
"He works so infrequently, but his movies, you know all of them," Damon continues. "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."