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“He made me want to go into hell with him”: Sam Worthington Beat Chris Evans and Channing Tatum to Play Jake Sully in Avatar, Left James Cameron Awestruck With Sheer Charisma


James Cameron made history with Avatar but it was the collective efforts of his cast that made his vision come true. Sam Worthington’s role as Jake Sully was transgressive in its potential for creating a legacy and the director was the first to see that in the actor. Then a relatively unknown actor, Avatar brought fame and gave a sense of direction and purpose to its lead and went on to become the face of Cameron’s most ambitious project to date.

As the sequel film makes headway in its journey to global box-office domination, the director recalls what made him choose Sam Worthington among the vast array of actors available to him at the time.

Avatar: The Way of Water - a visual delicacy
Avatar: The Way of Water (2022)

Also read: “How many people give a sh-t now?”: James Cameron is Ready to Kill Franchise After Avatar 3, Blames Streaming Sites Decimating Theatre Industry

James Cameron Recalls Sam Worthington’s Disarming Charm

Aliens, Titanic, and The Terminator director, James Cameron has curated a reputation in Hollywood for being one of the greats and it was that cumulated rapport that earned him en masse moviegoers for each of his successively successful launches since the late 80s. But it isn’t simply brilliant screenplays and extraordinary directorial prowess that earns a film its place among blockbusters. The actors and their onscreen presence can make or break a film just as easily as the script’s execution.

Sam Worthington as Jake Sully in Avatar 2
Sam Worthington as Jake Sully in Avatar 2

Also read: “I will go down in history”: Matt Damon Unknowingly Became a Saint By Turning Down $292M For Avatar, Saved Sam Worthington From Living in His Car

When James Cameron had begun his casting for Avatar in 2007, a roster of great names had themselves lined up for a role in the director extraordinaire’s set. But it was Sam Worthington who won Cameron over. The latter later reveals what it was that made him go with the underdog contender in the end.

“It was a bit daunting because he had an accent like Crocodile Dundee. I saw a lot of actors, names you’d be quite impressed by. But Sam was the guy who made me want to follow him into battle. He was the guy who made me want to go into hell with him, and the other actors never quite pulled it off.”

Actors like Chris Pratt, Jake Gyllenhaal, Chris Pine, and Matt Damon were all on the roster for the role of Jake Sully. But ultimately the race boiled down to three finalists — Chris Evans, Channing Tatum, and Sam Worthington. And even though Cameron claimed that he liked both the former actors’ “appeal”, it was Worthington’s delivery of Avatar‘s climactic speech that sealed the role for him.

Sam Worthington Not Charismatic Enough For James Bond

Sam Worthington
Sam Worthington

Also read: “We travel around”: James Cameron Wants To Take Us to the Mountains, Polar Regions, and Deserts of Pandora For Next Avatar Movies

Even though the indomitable force of Sam Worthington took him from living out of his car to a global star of the highest-grossing movie of all time almost overnight, the actor failed to impress Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson for the role of 007 in his audition for 2005’s Casino Royale. Sam Worthington recalls that Broccoli even groomed his hair to prep him for his audition as Bond — “I could play Bond as a killer, but I couldn’t get the debonair down for the life of me. The suit did not fit.”

Considering how the Bond franchise went on to dominate the box office for 15 years and escalated Daniel Craig to global stardom (and a better offer was waiting in the wings for Worthington), it did play out for the best for all parties involved in the end.

Avatar: The Way of Water is now in theatres.

Source: Variety

Written by Diya Majumdar

At 25, Diya Majumdar is inching closer to getting to the bottom of every film and television's history in existence. Having graduated with honors in literature from Miranda House, DU, her passion and profession both include dissecting the world of cinema, with more than 800 published articles on Fandomwire. She is a liberally opinionated person with an overbearing love for Monet, Edvard Munch, and Van Gogh and boasts of being an avid painter of all their troubled works.