Matt Damon explains exactly what kept him out of Avatar

It's well known that both Matt Damon and Jake Gyllenhaal turned down the lead role in James Cameron's history-making Avatar before it went to Sam Worthington. But it's never been clear why Damon said no—until now.

Speaking with The Playlist while doing press interviews for his new film The Adjustment Bureau, Damon said that it was simply a matter of timing. "I talked to Cameron, I read the script, and I knew it was going to be a big hit," he explained. "And I really wanted to do Avatar and watch Jim Cameron direct. I felt like I really was gonna learn a lot. It's just that we were finishing The Bourne Ultimatum and I couldn't leave. It was a scheduling issue. I joke that I bailed on Avatar, but in truth it was a scheduling issue."

Apparently the shoot for The Bourne Ultimatum went over its scheduled length, complicating matters and giving eventual Avatar star Worthington the biggest role of his career to date.

Damon certainly has nothing against science fiction: The Adjustment Bureau is loosely based on a short story by Philip K. Dick and is a pretty nifty slice of speculative cinema in its own right. In the film, which opens Friday (March 4), he plays a politician named David Norris who learns that the course of his own life—and human history—is being constantly decided and "adjusted" by a team of otherworldly agents.

Do you wish that Damon had been able to take the lead role in Avatar, or do you think the film is just fine with Sam Worthington in the part?

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