Matt Damon says he turned down starring in Avatar... along with 10 percent of the profits
"You will never meet an actor who turned down more money," the Jason Bourne star quipped during an event at the Cannes Film Festival.
Hey, how was he to know?
Matt Damon has revealed that he turned down an offer to star in James Cameron's Avatar, which would have netted him 10 percent of the movie's profits. During an event at the Cannes Film Festival on Friday, the actor recalled Cameron offering him the lead role in the sci-fi film, which would go on to become the highest-grossing film of all time.
"I will go down in history," Damon said, according to Deadline. "You will never meet an actor who turned down more money."
With Avatar's net profits estimated at $1.2 billion (prior to its re-release in China earlier this year, which saw it retake the top box-office crown from Avengers: Endgame), that deal would likely have netted Damon about $120 million. However, John Krasinski makes a good point: At Cannes, Damon recalled telling this story to the Office star, who purportedly replied, "Nothing would be different in your life if you had done Avatar, except you and me would be having this conversation in space."
He opted not to do the movie, Damon added, because he was in the midst of making the Bourne trilogy at the time and made a "moral" decision to keep his commitment to the franchise. Avatar's lead role ultimately went to then-relatively unknown actor Sam Worthington, who, it's fair to say, needed the gig a little more than Damon did. (Worthington was living in his car when Cameron cast him in 2007.)
Cameron's long-awaited Avatar sequels are due to finally begin rolling out in December 2022. In the meantime, Damon will next appear in the thriller Stillwater, which premiered at Cannes on Thursday and will hit theaters July 30.