Jason Bourne star Matt Damon turned down the lead role of James Cameron’s sci-fi film Avatar due to scheduling conflicts and passed on a staggering amount of money.
During his Cannes Film Festival masterclass, Damon discussed declining Cameron’s offer to play the lead role in the 2009 blockbuster despite the generous money offer he would have received.
“I was offered a little movie called Avatar, James Cameron offered me 10% of it,” says Damon. “I will go down in history… you will never meet an actor who turned down more money.”
Damon’s decision was due to scheduling as he was shooting the Jason Bourne movies and did not want to make an abrupt exit out of the popular action movie franchise. He also shared a story in which he told actor John Krasinski about the offer. While it was a surprise, Krasinski said as Damon recalls, “Nothing would be different in your life if you had done Avatar, except you and me would be having this conversation in space.”
Avatar grossed $2.8 billion globally. The role was eventually offered to Sam Worthington, however, he did not receive 10% of the film’s profits. He is slated to star in the upcoming sequels.
Damon has been in a plethora of films including The Martian, Elysium, Interstellar, and Good Will Hunting. Most recently, he starred in the Academy Award-winning James Mangold drama Ford v Ferrari, and the upcoming Tom McCarthy directed film Stillwater.
After Avatar released in 2009, it was announced several sequels would be in the works. The first of the sequels is slated for a 2022 release.