James Cameron has to laugh when it comes to Matt Damon turning down a role in “Avatar.” Damon went viral in 2021 after he revealed at the Cannes Film Festival that Cameron not only courted him to star in the 2009 epic, but also offered him a deal in which Damon would get 10% of the film’s box office profits. “Avatar” went on to gross over $2 billion worldwide and become the highest-grossing movie of all time (unadjusted for inflation), which would’ve earned Damon north of $250 million.
“I will go down in history,” Damon told press. “You will never meet an actor who turned down more money.”
Cameron was asked about Damon’s decision during a recent interview with BBC Radio to mark the release of “Avatar: The Way of Water.” The director immediately laughed when Damon’s name got brought up.
“He’s beating himself up over this,” Cameron said. “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.”
When pitched the idea of Damon having a cameo in a future “Avatar” sequel, Cameron responded, “Must do it. We have to do it so the world is in equilibrium again. But he doesn’t get 10%, fuck that.”
Damon said at Cannes that he turned down “Avatar” because he had already committed to finishing up his “Bourne” action trilogy with director Paul Greengrass. While rejecting “Avatar” turned out not to be the best financial decision, Damon maintained that it was the right “moral” decision. The actor was joined by John Krasinski during the Cannes conversation. Krasinski told Damon: “Nothing would be different in your life if you had done ‘Avatar’, except you and me would be having this conversation in space.”
Watch Cameron’s recent BBC Radio interview in its entirety in the video below.