Matt Damon is still a little sore over his decision to walk away from Avatar. The Stillwater actor is currently in Cannes and took part in a masterclass at the event, revealing that James Cameron originally wanted him in the film.
According to Deadline, Cameron offered Damon the lead role, later played by Sam Worthington, and a percentage of the film's profits. This was before it was the biggest movie on the planet, so Damon wasn't so sure.
"I was offered a little movie called Avatar, James Cameron offered me 10% of it," Damon said. "I will go down in history… you will never meet an actor who turned down more money."
That would be roughly $284 million, considering the original film brought in $2.847 billion. That's a lot to turn down, but Damon had a good reason and took the "moral" route for fans of Jason Bourne. He was shooting the Bourne sequels at the time and didn't want to leave people hanging.
The best part was The Office alum and Damon collaborator John Krasinski's reaction to the story. "Nothing would be different in your life if you had done Avatar, except you and me would be having this conversation in space," the A Quiet Place director told him.
Sam Worthington likely didn't get the same offer as Damon, but he did win the role and the promise of multiple sequels currently in production. Will they make as much money at the box office? That remains to be seen, but the first was a surprise too.
Matt Damon turned down 10 percent of Avatar in order to stick with Bourne and Ocean franchises. Cameron patted him on the back. John Krasinski told Damon nothing would be different except they’d be in space! “The sequels!,” Damon groaned. He’d work for Cameron for free, he said.— Anne Thompson (@akstanwyck) July 9, 2021
Damon's turn in Stillwater is already earning rave reviews, garnering a standing ovation at Cannes that brought the actor to tears. There are some complaints and negative reviews, but it seems that Damon may be up for a serious award competition later in the year.
Damon's sole Oscar win came from Good Will Hunting in 1997, famously sharing screenwriting credit with Ben Affleck. He was nominated for Best Actor three times, for Hunting, Invictus and The Martian, and earned a producer nomination for Manchester by The Sea in the Best Picture category.
He is set to return in Thor: Love and Thunder as the fake actor Loki that surprised fans in Thor: Ragnarok. And he can still be seen alongside Christian Bale in 2019's great Ford v Ferrari as Carrol Shelby.