Matt Damon Lost A Gigantic Payday Passing On Avatar

The actor would have ended up with a quarter of a billion dollars if he'd signed on.

In a new interview with GQ, Matt Damon has revealed that turning down the lead role of Jake Sully in James Cameron’s Avatar meant that he lost out on a whole lot of money.

Damon and Christian Bale have been doing the rounds to promote their new film, Ford v Ferrari, and in this particular chat they ended up discussing what happened when Damon was first offered a huge part in Cameron’s Pandora-set action-adventure project, which until a certain Avengers: Endgame-shaped entity barged it out of the way recently, was the highest-grossing film of all time.

“Jim Cameron offered me Avatar,” Damon said. “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…”

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The actor then told GQ that, yes, 10 percent of the Avatar gross would have absolutely been his – around $250,000,000 – and noted that when he told Promised Land co-writer John Krasinski about this, he responded in the most John Krasinski way possible:

“I told John Krasinski this story when we were writing Promised Land. 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.'”

When Damon was considering taking Cameron up on the Avatar offer, before scheduling conflicts with The Bourne Ultimatum made the notion impossible, he realized the gravity of the decision he was about to make:

“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.”

Cameron continues to work on the Avatar franchise, filming four back-to-back sequels that will land in cinemas worldwide over the next decade. Starring Sam Worthington…

We have more on the Avatar sequels here.