Actors turn down movie roles all the time, and now we’ve learned about another big name who said no to a movie that went on to become very successful.
Oscar winner Matt Damon told GQ UK that James Cameron offered him a role in his 2009 blockbuster Avatar. Damon added that Cameron offered him 10 percent of the box office grosses, which would have been a huge sum of money in the area of $250 million.
“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 percent of…'”
Damon trailed off here but he was seemingly referring to 10 percent of the Avatar box office grosses. The movie made $2.78 billion at the box office, so 10 percent of that would be around $278 million.
It’s unclear what role in Avatar turned down, but it could be that of Jake Sully, the male lead that would ultimately be played by Australian actor Sam Worthington.
Damon might have turned down the Avatar role for any number of reasons, and few could have known what a blockbuster success Avatar would become. He’s not the first big actor to say no to a role in a movie that would go on to be a smash hit.
Damon himself turned down the role of Harvey Dent in The Dark Knight; the role went to Aaron Eckhart. Emily Blunt, meanwhile, said no playing Black Widow in Iron Man 2 in a role that eventually went to Scarlett Johansson. Al Pacino turned down Han Solo, while Nicolas Cage passed on playing Aragorn in The Lord of the Rings.
Avatar 2, the first of multiple sequels in development, is scheduled to hit theatres in December 2021 after multiple delays.