Matt Damon has few regrets, other than turning down James Cameron’s 2009 “Avatar,” and now he’s explaining why.
The actor, who plays Army General Leslie Groves in Christopher Nolan’s “Oppenheimer,” detailed in a recent Interview with Chris Wallace why he had to give up starring in Cameron’s original $2.8 billion space epic. Damon previously claimed that his salary plus box office profits from “Avatar” would net the actor at least $250 million.
“I’m sure that’s the highest amount an actor has ever turned down, you know?” said Damon, who was under contract at the time to complete the spy-action series “Bourne.” By the time production on “Avatar” ramped up, Damon had completed “The Bourne Identity,” “The Bourne Supremacy,” and was filming 2007’s “The Bourne Ultimatum,” with “Legacy” and “Jason Bourne” yet to be made.
“I had a contract,” Damon said. “I was in the middle of shooting the movie ‘Bourne’ and I knew we were going to need work at the end, and I had to get to the finish line, and I was going to have to leave the movie a little early and leave them in the lurch a little bit and I didn’t want to do that. I desperately wanted to work with Cameron. I mean, why did he work so rarely.”
Damon said of his choice: “I don’t know how I could have left all my friends in the lurch. You know what I mean?”
Damon said that while writing director Gus van Sant’s 2012 drama “Promised Land” with John Krasinski, he and Krasinski “were in my kitchen and it was a Saturday morning and we were on a break and I told him about ‘Avatar,’ and he leapt off his chair. He starts pacing the kitchen, he says, ‘Nothing in your life would be different today if you’d made that movie, except you and I were going to have this conversation in space.'”
But Cameron doesn’t hold a grudge. While promoting ‘Avatar: The Way of Water,’ the Oscar-winning director said he still wants Matt Damon to star in an ‘Avatar’ installment after he turned down the original.
“He’s fighting over it, and I really think, Matt, you’re one of the biggest movie stars in the world. Get over it. But he had to do another ‘Bourne’ film that was on his runway and there was nothing he could do about it and so he regretfully had to turn it down,” Cameron told BBC 1.
But while Cameron said Damon “must” make another “Avatar” movie, he came with a caveat: “He doesn’t get 10 percent. Fuck you.