Director James Cameron took a pretty big risk when he decided to go with Australian actor Sam Worthington for Avatar, which has become the highest grossing film of all time. But it turns out Cameron offered the part of Jake Sully to a couple other actors first, both of whom were too cool for school when it came to painting themselves blue.
Both Matt Damon and Jake Gyllenhaal were offered the part by Cameron, though Cameron insists he wasn't fully committed to giving them the part. He simply did it to placate Fox, what with the budget for the film being as huge as it was:
"I don’t think they ever had a problem with the CG, “ Cameron said. “Honestly, did I go out and try to woo them? No. I had my heart set on Sam. Maybe they sensed my lack of 100% commitment from me. Maybe it was the subject matter. This was a big Star Wars-type movie. They’re both serious actors.”
Gyllenhaal is such a serious actor, in fact, that he's starring in the soon-to-be released Prince of Persia. And has starred in movies like Bubble Boy and Donnie Darko. Yeah, he's way above Avatar, no question.
As for Damon, well, the man has a pretty busy schedule and probably doesn't need the money. Still, it might have opened some sci-fi doors for him and broken him out of the Bourne mold he seems to more or less consistently reside in. Who knows, maybe he'll win an Oscar for Invictus and this will be a moot point.
One way or another, you better believe Worthington feels like the smartest man alive right now. When Cameron comes a-knockin', you say YES.
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