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Avatar stars the somewhat bland Sam Worthington as Jake Sully.

But at one point, the role almost went to one of two far more charismatic actors. According to Mr. Avatar himself, James Cameron, both Chris Evans and Channing Tatum came very close to landing the lead role, but Worthington ultimately won the filmmaker over. The rest is history.
James Cameron has been on an Avatar promotional blitz lately, dishing out details about both the original film, and the upcoming five sequels. While stopping by the Empire Podcast, Cameron revealed that the franchise was almost Sam Worthington-free. Before Worthington locked down the role, Cameron was considering both Chris Evans and Channing Tatum. No offense to Mr. Worthington, but either of those choices probably would’ve been better.
“Chris Evans, and Sam, and Channing Tatum. That was my choice,” Cameron said, adding:
“I really liked Channing’s appeal. I liked Chris’ appeal. They were both great guys. But Sam had a quality of voice and a quality of intensity. Everybody did about the same on all the material through the script, except for the final speech where he stands up and says, ‘This is our land, ride now, go as fast as the wind can carry you.’ That whole thing. I would have followed him into battle. And I wouldn’t have followed the other guys. They’ve since gone onto fantastic careers and all that, but Sam was ready. He was ready.”
For reference, here’s the big speech scene Cameron is talking about – the one that convinced him that Worthington was right for the role.
Worthington really lucked out here. Not only did he end up starring in the biggest box office hit of all time, he also got locked into that film’s five sequels. Of course, Evans and Tatum have gone on to successful careers of their own, so in the end, I guess everyone won. Still, it’s fun to think how different Avatar would’ve been with either Evans or Tatum in the lead. Would it have made a huge difference? It’s hard to say. The vocal performances would of course be different, but in the end, both actors would be replaced by CGI renderings. True, they’d be performing the motion capture work as well, so it might have resulted in a much different film. We’ll never know.

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