Matt Damon says rejecting 'Avatar' cost him an eye-watering amount of money

Tom Butler
Senior Editor
Matt Damon is seen as he waits on his IndyCar Experience ride at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on May 25, 2019. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

Matt Damon has revealed that turning down the lead role in Avatar cost him $250 million (£204 million).

Director James Cameron offered the Hollywood star 10% of the profits from his 2009 science fiction epic if he accepted the part of Jake Sully. However, the 48-year-old declined the offer, and the role went to Australian actor Sam Worthington, who also starred in the Clash Of The Titans remake and Mel Gibson's Hacksaw Ridge.

Avatar made $2.79 billion (£2.28 billion) at the global box office, meaning Damon could have earned upwards of a quarter of a billion dollars.

He told British GQ that Cameron invited him onto the film, but warned he could easily replace him with an unknown actor. Speaking in conversation with Christian Bale, his co-star on forthcoming film Le Mans '66, the actor said: "Jim Cameron offered me Avatar.

Sam Worthington as Jake Sully in Avatar. (20th Century Fox)

"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 gonna find an unknown actor and give it to him, because the movie doesn't really need you.'

He added: "I told (film-maker) John Krasinski this story when we were writing Promised Land. We're writing this movie about fracking.

Read more: Mind-blowing Avatar details you might have missed

"We're writing in the kitchen and we're on a break and I tell him the story and he goes: 'What?'

Neytiri (Zoe Saldana) and Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) in Avatar. (20th Century Fox)

"And he stands up and he starts pacing in the kitchen. He goes: 'OK. OK. OK. OK. OK.'

"He goes: '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.”

Matt Damon and Christian Bale in Le Mans 66 (20th Century Fox)

The Hollywood A-lister previously revealed he turned down Avatar due to a scheduling clash with his other films The Bourne Ultimatum and The Green Zone.

There are currently four Avatar sequels in the pipeline at 20th Century Fox with Sam Worthington returning as Jake Sully. Avatar 2 is scheduled for release in December 2021.

Read more: Jermaine Clements joins Avatar 2

Read the full conversation in British GQ.

Le Mans ‘66 is coming to UK cinemas on 15 November. Watch a trailer below.

With reporting by PA.