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Matt Damon Talks About Elysium And Missing Out On James Cameron’s Avatar

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Actor Matt Damon will be featured in Neill Blomkamp’s follow-up to his surprise 2009 hit, District 9. The movie Elysium looks to be one of the biggest science fiction films of 2013. With all the buzz around Elysium, Damon has added to it by claiming that Neill Blomkamp is our generation’s James Cameron. [Isn’t James Cameron our generation’s James Cameron? – Ed.]

Matt Damon in Elysium

In an interview with Playboy, Damon talked about the upcoming science fiction film, what it’s like working with Neill Blomkamp, and how he missed out on working with James Cameron on Avatar.

Elysium is set in the year 2159, where the wealthiest population lives in a luxurious space station called Elysium that orbits the Earth. Everyone else is left to toil on the planet that is below, which is now a broken wasteland. Matt Damon will play Max, a man dying of cancer and looking to fight his way onto the posh space station in the hopes of a cure. Here’s Damon on the challenges of filming Blomkamp’s bleak vision of the future:

What you see on-screen is supposed to look futuristic, but it was actually just helicopters flying over us, kicking up dust that coats you and that you know is fecal matter. We were very careful, but it was unbelievably toxic. It’s the worst location I’ve ever heard of and could have been worse only if we’d filmed in the world’s largest waste dump…

Damon goes on to say what a pleasure it was to work with a director like Blomkamp, and went on to make the Cameron comparison. It’s not too much of a stretch. Both Blomkamp and Cameron have a knack for science fiction and a strong social conscience.

Damon missed out on actually working with Cameron a few years back. He was offered the role of Jake Sully in Cameron’s Avatar but turned it down to work with Clint Eastwood for his 2009 film, Invictus, for which Damon was nominated for an Academy Award. The role was later filled by Australian actor Sam Worthington. Damon says:

Having to say no to Avatar was tough because I particularly wanted to work with James Cameron, and still do, because he’s fantastic. He knew he was the star of that movie and that everyone was going to go see it anyway. When he said, ‘Look, I’m offering it to you, but if you say no, the movie doesn’t need you,’ I remember thinking, Oh God, not only do I have to say no because of scheduling, but he’s going to make a star out of some guy who’s going to start taking jobs from me later.

Avatar would have been a completely different movie if Matt Damon were cast as Jake Sully. Worthington did a fine job as the paralyzed Marine, but Damon could have given more life into the battered character.

Elysium will be released in theaters everywhere on August 9, 2013.

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