James Cameron Passed on Chris Evans for Avatar Lead

Chris Evans and Channing Tatum were both up for the role of Jake Sully...

James Cameron has been talking about the casting process for his box office smash Avatar in a new interview with Empire.

The Alita: Battle Angel producer has been dishing up interesting info about a range of his films, past and future, on a whirlwind promotional tour for the movie, stopping by Empire‘s podcast to chat about what could have been during the original casting decision for his 2009 Pandora-set event flick, which is about to spawn no less than four (yes) sequels.

Cameron revealed that before he settled on Sam Worthington for the role of Jake Sully in Avatar, he had seemingly whittled it down to three potential lead actors, with Chris Evans and Channing Tatum being the other two.

“Chris Evans, and Sam, and Channing Tatum. That was my choice. I really liked Channing’s appeal. I liked Chris’ appeal. They were both great guys. But Sam had a quality of voice and a quality of intensity. Everybody did about the same on all the material through the script, except for the final speech where he stands up and says, ‘This is our land, ride now, go as fast as the wind can carry you.’ That whole thing. I would have followed him into battle. And I wouldn’t have followed the other guys. They’ve since gone onto fantastic careers and all that, but Sam was ready. He was ready.”

Bypassing any quick jokes about Captain America not being the sort of guy you’d follow into battle, it’s quite fascinating that all three actors have ended up having such different careers, with Evans becoming a household name as one of the main faces of the MCU, and Tatum dabbling in a range of weird-but-successful choices, from the Magic Mike films to 21 Jump Steet.

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Meanwhile, Sam Worthington has been consistently working, but has never quite reached the career high of the first Avatar film. He’s going to be back in a big way once these sequels start hitting us, though, with Avatar 2 set for release next Christmas, and three more movies in the pipeline that will take the Pandora mythology deep into 2025.