The real reason Matt Damon rejected ‘The Fighter’
(Credit: Nicolas Genin)


The real reason Matt Damon rejected ‘The Fighter’

In Hollywood, it’s not uncommon for actors to cross paths, swapping roles the other was destined for or sometimes narrowly missing out on sharing the screen despite the obvious chemistry of the pairing. Matt Damon and Christian Bale are two such titans of the silver screen. For years, Damon and Bale found themselves in the same circles, exchanging stories and almost crossing paths professionally. But it wasn’t till 2019 that we would see the two share screen space.

Damon and Bale finally appeared together in the adrenaline-fueled sports drama Ford v Ferrari, now on Netflix. However, their journey to shared stardom is a tale of numerous near misses and multiple mutually coveted roles.

In a candid exchange with GQ, they reminisced about the projects they almost worked on together. Damon revealed that he had passed on a few projects that eventually landed in Bale’s lap, which would often make Bale wonder why Damon had passed on them. One such project is The Fighter, yet another sports drama based on a true story.

Directed by David O. Russell, the film boasted an ensemble cast led by Mark Wahlberg and Bale himself. Damon confessed that he had initially considered the script fascinating but ultimately turned it down due to its lacklustre quality at the time he was offered the role. In the interview, Damon explained, “I read the script because I thought it was fascinating, but the script was not very good. And we had a different director at the time.” He went on, “And Mark [Wahlberg] really wanted to do it and was so excited about it, but we all knew the script wasn’t there.”

However, fate intervened when Russell stepped in, rewriting the script and revitalising the project. With Bale on board, The Fighter transformed into a powerhouse of a film, earning critical acclaim and accolades, including Bale’s Oscar for ‘Best Supporting Actor’. Bale also became the centre of health discussions because he dropped down to 145 pounds, looking near-skeletal to portray former-professional boxer Dicky Eklund, who had become addicted to drugs.

In hindsight, Damon’s decision to pass on The Fighter paved the way for its eventual success, allowing Russell and Bale to realise the film’s full potential. Incidentally, Brad Pitt had also passed over the project due to alleged scheduling conflicts. Eminem was considered for the role as well, but he had other commitments. It was Wahlberg who ultimately recommended Bale for the role. Bale and Wahlberg knew each other because their daughters attended the same preschool. “He has a willingness to go to places other people seem reluctant to,” Mr. Wahlberg told The New York Times about his decision to consider Bale to play his on-screen brother in The Fighter.

You can watch The Fighter on Netflix and catch the trailer here: