Is Matt Damon The ‘Dumbest’ Actor For Turning Down ‘Avatar?’

matt damon avatar blue people 2009 sam worthington zoe saldana

It’s hard to believe that five-time Academy Award winner Matt Damon has any major career regrets. However, it turns out that he made one major misstep when he turned down a lead role in the highest-grossing film franchise.

That’s right, Matt Damon turned down a starring role in James Cameron’s 2009 film, Avatar. Instead, Sam Worthington played protagonist Jake Sully alongside Guardians of the Galaxy star Zoe Saldana as Neytiri and Sigourney Weaver as Dr. Grace Augustine.

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As the highest-grossing movie of all time, Box Office Mojo (by IMDb Pro) reports Avatar (2009) currently has a lifetime gross of $2,923,706,026. It’s recently released sequel Avatar: The Way of Water (2022) ranks at number three with a current lifetime gross of $2,320,246,732. In second place, is Marvel Studio‘s Avengers: Endgame (2019).

Apparently, Matt Damon could’ve earned about $250 million if he had taken the role.

In an interview with ET along side Zoe Saldana for Stella Artois’ new Let’s Do Dinner campaign, Damon confessed,

It’s the dumbest thing an actor ever did in the history of acting. Do you know what kind of movie that would’ve been if I would had been in it? I’ve probably done, like, 50 movies. I’ve never been in a movie that made $1 billion.

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Evan Agostini/Invision/AP

Damon originally revealed his Avatar blunder at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival, saying “I will go down in history. You will never meet an actor who turned down more money.”

The reason Damon had to turn down the Avatar role was due to his prior commitment to the Bourne movie franchise. Even though it cost Damon a lot of money in box office revenue, he feels it was the right decision to uphold his commitment to the trilogy he already signed on for.

READ MORE: We’re Willing to Bet You Never Knew This Behind-the-Scenes Fact About James Cameron’s ‘Avatar’

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James Cameron has playfully commented,

He’s beating himself up over this, 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.

How different would Avatar have been if it starred Matt Damon instead of Sam Worthington? Do you think it would have been as successful? Even more successful?

The world and Pandora may never know.

About Lana Porter

Lana has never lost a Disney Trivia night. Maybe it’s the hundreds of times she’s been to Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, her love for Disney’s ’90’s era hand-animated musicals, or the fact that she’s often likened to cartoon characters, but Disney and its magic have a special place in her heart. Her favorite Disney experiences include the EPCOT Food and Wine Festival, eating Mickey Bars on the PeopleMover, and crying during the Magic Kingdom fireworks show. One day she hopes to be chosen as the rebel spy on Star Tours. When Lana isn’t Park Hopping, she’s at home reading books of all topics, watching her favs on Disney+, or snuggling her two cats, which she swears are not named after Disney characters. She loves surprising people with her knowledge of the Marvel Cinematic Universe but admits she is still catching up with Star Wars. She is happy to combine her excitement for writing with her love for Disney-style storytelling and share what she can with the world!