Matt Damon Turned Down Avatar and 10 Percent of the Film’s Profits

Sometimes you have to wonder why people—especially celebrities—admit to poor decisions. Is it because they don’t have the good sense to not air out their dirty laundry, or are they looking for a bit of publicity? Take, for instance, Matt Damon’s admission that he turned down the opportunity to be in one of the highest grossing movies of all time: James Cameron’s Avatar.

“Jim Cameron offered me Avatar,” says Damon during an interview about his new movie Ford v Ferrari. “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 10 percent…,” but Damon cut off before finishing the statement. If he was referring to 10 percent of the movie’s profits, that would mean that Damon would have received $278,000,000 from the film’s $2.78 billion. In perhaps one of the greatest understatements ever, Damon told British GQ that “I’ve left more money on the table than any other actor actually.”

As to why he couldn’t take the role, Damon explained that it would have caused problems for Paul Greengrass and “all my friends on The Bourne Ultimatum.” You have to admire Damon’s loyalty, but the monetary cost wasn’t the only loss that Damon experienced from turning down the role. “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,” says Damon. Turning down the role meant that Damon missed his chance to work with the famous director. “That sucked and that’s still brutal,” confesses Damon. “But my kids are all eating. I’m doing OK.”

So whatever motivated Damon to share this story, you have to admit that it gives us a bit of a look into who Damon really is. And he’s right—he’s not exactly hurting for roles in successful movies. You do have to wonder, though, what Avatar, and its upcoming sequel, would have been like.

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