The list of iconic film roles that almost went to other actors is a long and continuous one. O.J. Simpson as the Terminator? Kurt Russell as Han Solo? Eric Stoltz as Marty McFly?! To this bunch, add Matt Damon and Jake Gyllenhaal.
As James Cameron confirmed to MTV News, both those A-listers were being considered for the starring role of Jake Sully in "Avatar," a part that ultimately went to then-unknown Australian actor Sam Worthington.
"They were bandied about," the director said. "The studio was interested in having a name, I think really just for the part of it we're doing right now, which is, 'How do you sell this movie? What are the handles on this thing that we can sell it to the media somehow or get media attention?' Well, having a name actor gets you on talk shows and all that sort of thing. So there was some value to that idea, and we explored it."
Damon has nine $100 million-plus films on his résumé — two of which have crossed the $200 million level. Gyllenhaal, meanwhile, doesn't have the blockbuster background that Damon does (only "The Day After Tomorrow" topped $100 million), but he's undeniably one of the biggest stars in Hollywood, a tabloid obsession with a string of impressive credits to his name. But when it came down to it, Cameron couldn't escape Worthington.
"Ultimately we kept coming back to Sam," he said. "Sam was the guy who just — he was the guy. Even with the accent and everything. You hear Sam talk and he sounds like Crocodile Dundee — but you hear him in the character and he's utterly and completely the guy."
Seems like Cameron made the right call. "Avatar" is currently hovering at the #3 all-time worldwide box-office spot, fast on the heels of "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King." And since being cast, Worthington has been plucked for starring roles in "Terminator Salvation" and "Clash of the Titans." Cameron has turned Worthington into an actor who can now be confidently mentioned in the same breath as Damon and Gyllenhaal.
Check out everything we've got on "Avatar."
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