Matt Damon passed up on quite the paycheck.
In a new interview with British GQ, the Jason Bourne actor revealed that he wasn’t just offered the lead role in James Cameron’s Avatar, he was also extended ten percent of the film’s profits if he accepted the job.
“Jim [sic] Cameron offered me Avatar.” Damon, 48, told the magazine. “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 per cent.'”
The epic science fiction film that takes viewers to the alien world of Pandora, ultimately brought in $2.79 billion at the box office. This means that Damon could have walked away with over $250 million had he starred in the film.
“I told John Krasinski this story when we were writing Promised Land.” Damon added, revealing his friend’s reaction to the news. “He goes, ‘What?’ And he stands up and he starts pacing in the kitchen. He goes, ‘OK. OK. OK. OK. OK… If you had done that movie, nothing in your life would be different. Nothing in your life would be different at all. Except that, right now, we would be having this conversation in space.'”
“So, yeah. I’ve left more money on the table than any actor actually,” he said.
Despite that being true, Damon doesn’t necessarily regret the missed paycheck opportunity as much as he regrets passing up on the chance to work with Cameron.
“I mean, the bigger thing still to this day, my bigger regret is… Cameron said to me in the course of that conversation, ‘Well, you know, I’ve only made six movies.’ I didn’t realize that,” the actor explained. “He works so infrequently, but his movies, you know all of them. So it feels like he’s made more than he has. I realized in having to say no that I was probably passing on the chance to ever work with him.”
“So that sucked and that’s still brutal,” he said, jokingly adding, “but my kids are all eating. I’m doing OK.”
The film went on to star Australian actor Sam Worthington as the lead character, Jake Sully. He will be revisiting his role in the sequel, Avatar 2, which is set to premiere December 17, 2021. Damon’s new film Ford v Ferrari opens November 15.