“Avatar” director James Cameron joked that Matt Damon shouldn’t feel blue about his decision to turn down the leading role in the original blockbuster film.

In a recent interview with BBC Radio, Cameron was asked about Damon’s decision to pass on playing Jake Sully while publicizing the long-awaited sequel, “Avatar: The Way of Water.”

“He’s beating himself up over this,” Cameron said with a guffaw Friday. “And I really think, you know, ‘Matt, you’re kind of like one of the biggest movie stars in the world, get over it.’ But he had to do another ‘Bourne’ film which was on his runway and there was nothing we could do about that. So he had to regretfully decline.”

matt damon
Damon is still kicking himself for rejecting a role in “Avatar.”
Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Im

A clip of Damon went viral last year after the actor revealed at the Cannes Film Festival that Cameron courted him in 2009 to star in the blockbuster, offering him 10% of the film’s box office profits.

The role eventually went to Sam Worthington and “Avatar” went on to become the highest-grossing movie of all time, bringing in $2 billion worldwide — which would have netted Damon more than $250 million.

“I will go down in history,” Damon told Entertainment Weekly at the time. “You will never meet an actor who turned down more money.”

Damon said at Cannes that he turned down “Avatar” because he had already committed to completing the “Bourne” action trilogy with director Paul Greengrass. Damon, who is known for his role as titular character Jason Bourne, said that choosing to star in the action franchise turned out to be the right “moral decision.”

According to Variety, when asked if Damon could get a cameo in a future “Avatar” movie, Cameron said: “Must do it. We have to do it so the world is in equilibrium again. But he doesn’t get 10%, f–k that.”

The sequel, with Worthington again at the helm, netted about $135 million in its opening weekend.


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Tyler Cowan