Matt Damon Talks About How He Turned Down Avatar And Rescue Dawn

Press conference interviews are famous for their zany questions only tangentially related to the topic at hand, the kind of "If you had a time machine, where would you go?" and "Do you feel you relate to nature like your character?" questions that result in hilariously out-of-context quotes from the actors. But a few weeks ago at the Adjustment Bureau press conference, one of those questions actually resulted in an interesting answer from star Matt Damon. Asked about moments in his life when fate-- a major theme of the movie-- seemed to intervene, he told the story of how he met with James Cameron about starring in Avatar, but decided to make Green Zone with Paul Greengrass instead.

It's not news that Damon was originally considered to star in the film, but interesting to hear about his decision process, and how much he was genuinely interested in playing the role that wound up going to Sam Worthington. He also talked about meetings he had with Werner Herzog about starring in Rescue Dawn, a role that eventually went to Christian Bale, and how his decision to work with the Farrelly Brothers instead landed him with four kids and a wife.

I'll have more from the press conference interview with Damon and Emily Blunt later today; you can see them both in The Adjustment Bureau, opening this Friday.

Are there moments in your life when you really felt fate intervening?

Matt Damon: Clearly for me, passing up the chance to be in Avatar in order to do Green Zone was one of those moments. Because Avatar didn't do very well… the DVD of Green Zone is just gonna go huge. [Laughs] No, I do end up thinking about all those jobs I was desperate to get that I didn't get that really turned out to be a blessing in disguise. I'd say one of the biggest ones, there was the Werner Herzog movie called Rescue Dawn that Christian Bale did, and Werner and I were talking about that-- this was eight years ago, about me possibly playing that role. I was really strongly considering it, and instead I met with the Farrelly Brothers. I remember talking to my mother, and my mother said "You don't always have to go into the jungle and lose a bunch of weight, you're allowed to have fun." And I did the Farrelly Brothers movie [Stuck On You] and that was where I met my wife. Four kids later, that was a pretty fateful decision.

What's the motivating factor for you when choosing a project? Like choosing Avatar over Green Zone?

Matt: it wasn't anything against Avatar. I talked to Cameron, I read the script, and I really wanted to do Avatar to work with Jim Cameron, to watch him direct, because I was going to learn a lot. We were finishing The Bourne Ultimatum, and it was a scheduling issue. I joke that I passed on Avatar, but really my schedule made it an impossibility for me. In terms of Green Zone, Paul, one of my best friends in the business and a director I love, wanted to make a movie about Iraq and the original lie that got us in there. And so I really wanted to go do that. My decisions usually are based on the character.

Katey Rich

Staff Writer at CinemaBlend