It’s a widely known fact that Matt Damon passed up on a colossal payday when he declined the opportunity to star in James Cameron’s 2009 blockbuster “Avatar” in order to honor his commitment to “The Bourne Ultimatum.” Cameron had dangled an extraordinary offer, promising Damon a staggering 10% of the film’s total profit. With box office earnings nearing $3 billion, this decision ultimately cost the actor approximately $250 million—a substantial blow.
However, for Damon, the financial aspect pales in comparison to the regret he feels about missing out on the chance to collaborate with director James Cameron. The actor, known for his roles in some of the most acclaimed movies of recent decades, expressed this sentiment in a conversation with The Talks.
Looking back on his choice to turn down a role in what has evolved into one of the most celebrated science fiction franchises in cinematic history, Damon revealed, “For me, the biggest tragedy of that story was that I was missing out on a chance to work with James Cameron. He was on top of the list of directors that I wanted to work with!”
He went on, “When I was talking to him, he said that he had only made six movies. And I remember being shocked by that. I knew all of his films back to front, and it felt like he had done much more. He works very infrequently. Now, another ten years will have gone by before he is doing another one.”
Damon made a slight error, as Cameron took 13 years to craft his new film, “Avatar 2,” not ten. Nevertheless, this serves as a testament to the extraordinary nature of James Cameron’s films—they are true cinematic events. Damon’s lamentations serve as a poignant reminder that for the finest actors, their paramount aspiration is to collaborate creatively with the most accomplished directors, and James Cameron undoubtedly falls into that category.
From “The Terminator” and its sequel to “Aliens” and “Titanic,” Cameron stands as a maestro of blockbuster filmmaking, arguably rivaling even Steven Spielberg in his mastery of the art form. Few directors can match his formula for blockbuster success, a blueprint honed since “The Terminator” in 1984, which incorporates an epic scale, a harmonious blend of elements like comedy, intense action, genuine romance, and thunderous drama. Coupled with the awe-inspiring technical prowess of his films, this formula consistently leads to box office triumphs.
When Damon expressed his regret about missing the chance to work with Cameron as the greatest in his career, he wasn’t exaggerating. Fortunately, beginning with “Avatar 3,” there are at least two more films slated for the franchise, with the potential for even more if the success endures. If Cameron can find a way to incorporate Damon into the series, it would be a cinematic dream come true.