Matt Damon is reflecting on a missed role in the highest-grossing film franchise of all time. The actor revealed to ET in a joint interview with Zoe Saldana this week that he had the chance to team up with her a long time ago.
The 52-year-old Massachusetts native was offered the lead role in James Cameron’s 2009 film Avatar, where he would have starred alongside Saldana and would have earned him around a whopping $250 million. The role instead went to Sam Worthington, who played Jake Sully, while Saldana portrayed Neytiri.
The big-budget CGI movie follows former Marine Jake Sully, who is recruited for a mission on Pandora, a distant moon where a corporate consortium is mining a rare mineral that is key to solving Earth’s energy crisis. To exist on Pandora, Jake must be reborn as an avatar, a remotely controlled biological body that can survive in the lethal air. After Neytiri, a female member of the Na’vi, the indigenous clan he was sent to infiltrate, saves Jake’s life, he finds himself drawn to the Na’vi’s ways. Soon, Jake becomes embroiled in a clash of civilizations and faces the ultimate test in a monumental battle that will decide the fate of an entire world.
“It’s the dumbest thing an actor ever did in the history of acting,” Damon told the publication Monday (May 22) of turning down the role. Saldana assured the award-winning actor, “I don’t think your career suffered because of it, trust me.” Though Damon has been ranked by Forbes as one of the “most bankable stars,” earning nearly $4 billion, the Oppenheimer actor still feels the sting of an opportunity lost.
Damon quipped, “Do you know what kind of movie that would’ve been if I would have been in it?” After praising Saldana for being in several films that have made over $2 billion, including Avatar, the 44-year-old actress joked, “I didn’t plan it, trust me. I’ve just always felt blessed that I was picked, that I worked really hard and auditioned. I’m not Matt Damon. I don’t get to turn down Avatars.” Damon noted, “I’ve probably done, like, 50 movies. I’ve never been in a movie that made $1 billion.”