Speaking of 2009’s Avatar, James Cameron comments on Matt Damon’s missed opportunity to star with a clause that would have allowed him to earn 10% of the film’s takings.
Perhaps not everyone knows that the role of Jake Sully’s character in Avatars was initially offered to Matt Damon. Director James Cameron he was convinced that he was the ideal actor for the part of the disabled soldier who enters the body of the blue alien to infiltrate the Na’Vi of the planet Pandora. Now that the sequel Avatar: The Way of Water is in cinemas and its author is traveling the world to promote the film, the question of casting has come to the surface again, which at the time of the first film would have involved the protagonist of the Jason Bourne saga.
James Cameron comments on Matt Damon’s resignation from the first Avatar
First let’s contextualize.
We are in 2005 and the director is starting to plan the long production that Avatars will require. It is a commitment that will absorb him and his collaborators for a long time, considering how ambitious this project is from a technical point of view. A few months go by and the talk about casting begins to become significant. Even the actors will have to guarantee availability for a long period, so it is good to ensure the engagement at least with the protagonists. While Zoe Saldana he surpasses all the competitors and enthusiastically accepts the part for which he will play exclusively in the studio with the motion capture technique, for the role of Jake Sully the actor will have to alternate between the human version and the alien version. James Cameron and the 20th Century Fox are oriented towards the figure of Matt Damon who, in addition to having held some dramatic roles, from Will Hunting to Save Private Ryan to get to Mr. Ripley’s talentand having felt comfortable in comedies such as Ocean’s Eleven And Skin brothershas become an action movie hero with the two films of Jason Bourne.
The actor represents an important step forward for the project, to such a level that to convince him to be part of it, the director and producers offer him an unmissable economic opportunity: 10% of the film’s takings. However, the negotiation does not go through because Matt Damon feels morally attached to the saga of his secret agent whose third film is in preparation, but make yourself available for Avatars means to cause a delay in the development of The Bourne Ultimatum of one or two years. And so he gives up and, after a selection process, Cameron choose the semi-unknown Sam Worthington. “You will never find any other actor who can give up as much money as I did” he will say in 2021 Matt Damon making fun of the choice made in the past, because obviously he could not know that Avatars would become the world’s most grossing ever and would only bring in his pockets to date 290 million dollars.
In an interview a few days ago with the BBC, James Cameron ironically commented on the choice made at the time by the actor.
“He seems to keep hammering away at this thing… well Matt, you’re one of the biggest movie stars in the world, rest your soul! He had to do another Bourne movie and there wasn’t much to discuss, so regretfully had to give up.”
Journalist Ali Plumb:
“Fingers crossed that Matt Damon may have a cameo in one of the upcoming movies.”
“We’ll do it, we have to do it, so that the world can be in balance again. But it’s certainly not going to take 10% percent of the takings. Damn.”