So I’m still frowning and wondering why Neeraj Chand of MovieWeb would bother calling Sam Worthington’s performance in Avatar bland when in truth had it been Matt Damon in this movie it seems like nothing would have been different, save for the fact that Jake Sully might have been a little bit more on the emotional side. In a funny twist Damon turning this movie down cost him a massive, $250 million paycheck. If it wasn’t all that big of a deal it would likely be a little more funny and less apt to raise some eyebrows. But it would appear that James Cameron actually offered the role to Damon in the first place and must have considered Worthington a no-name actor that didn’t deserve the same offer. That’s kind of harsh really but it is what it is I suppose in the world of show business since it’s not all peaches and rainbows shining down over the stars at all times. Still, thinking that Worthington was bland is doing kind of a discredit to this movie since he was the main character and in a big way he helped to push the movie along as he developed from a crippled Marine to a fully-functioning avatar that swiftly learned the way of the native people and did his best to help save them.
There were plenty of critics as Huma Khan of ABC News wrote about since the movie made use of a lot of thematic elements that drove some conservatives nuts and angered a few others since the idea of the native population resisting the ‘evil’ corporation and its expansion upon Pandora was enough to let them draw parallels between the real world and the movie in a big way. In a way this is real enough since Cameron wasn’t exactly hiding the elements that he was using, but honestly the inability of anyone to take a movie at face value these days, or a director to keep from utilizing current affairs to tinge the feel of their movie, has become a serious detriment when one simply wants to enjoy a good story and not worry as to whether or not it denotes anything in their current society. A lot of people might say that of course this is going to happen, it’s only natural. Art will imitate life in many ways whether it’s a conscious choice or not. But back to Matt Damon for the moment.
Apparently he said no to the movie since he didn’t want to upset the chance at The Bourne Ultimatum being made on time and without any delay, but when he realized just how much he’d missed out on, and that he’d missed the chance to work with one of the most successful directors in the business, he was a little chagrined at the very least. Claudia Harmata of People relates that he left more money on the table than any other actor, but Damon seemed to take it in stride. Eventually he made his peace with it since to be honest he continued to work and he also continued to be a very well-known name, much more than Sam Worthington who still isn’t as well known but has gained a great deal of fame since Avatar, and will continue to do so since the sequel will be coming out eventually, and will then be followed by the other movie, or movies, that are being planned. Matt Damon knows what he missed out on and he knows that it would have been the chance of a lifetime, but in truth I’m kind of glad he did. You might be looking at this in a funny manner and wondering why I might say such a thing, but I do have a reason.
In all honesty Damon is a great actor, there’s no denying this and there’s no getting around it. But he isn’t Sam Worthington, and Sam Worthington isn’t him. Avatar really needed someone that doesn’t have the same level fame that Damon was already enjoying at that time. In a lot of his movies Matt Damon is someone that seems insanely sensitive, no matter if he’s playing Jason Bourne or Tom Ripley, the guy just seems like he’s able to bust up crying at any given moment or look like someone told him his puppy got run over. Worthington has a different look that might look bland to some (sorry Neeraj), but is in essence an icy look that suggests that he’s been there, done that, and just isn’t that easy to impress. He was a lot less known than Damon to be honest, in fact he hadn’t done that was worth mentioning before Avatar, but he did go on to star in a good number of movies that might not have all been hits, but were still great in their own way. Had it been Damon in the role this almost seems like it would have been just another entry on his already lengthy resume. With Worthington it was at least a chance at greatness that panned out in a big way.