Hugh Jackman’s portrayal of Wolverine is intrinsic to popular culture. Being one of the most iconic character depictions, it becomes impossible to imagine any other actor in the role of the mutant. Jackman’s debut as the character happened in 2000 with the Bryan Singer-directed film X-Men. Since then, even after “retiring” from the part in 2017, the world has deemed him the definitive Wolverine.
Reprising the character in the upcoming Deadpool movie, after declaring the performance in Logan his swansong in the role, has further helped cement such views.
However, there was a time when the Australian actor’s involvement in the acclaimed X-Men film series seemed murky. He wasn’t even the first talent to be considered for the role. Before him, Tom Cruise’s Mission: Impossible co-star was cast as Wolverine in a multi-film deal. But, as fate would have it, other plans were in motion. Cruise may have indirectly had a hand in Hugh Jackman becoming the undisputed man to play the character.
Which Actors Were Approached For The Role Before Hugh Jackman?
When Bryan Singer came on board as the director of X-Men (2000), his first choice was The Nice Guys star Russell Crowe. However, the actor turned down the opportunity to play the metal-clawed mutant. Instead, the Gladiator star recommended Hugh Jackman as a potential candidate for the part. At the time, the Van Helsing alum was a relatively lesser-known name in the industry. Several well-known actors were vying for the chance to embody the character.
The next actor to be considered was Ever After star Dougray Scott. The actor chose to play the part. Unfortunately, he had to withdraw from the project due to his MI 2 responsibilities. He had additionally sustained some injuries. Therefore, scheduling clashes barred the Scottish actor from participating in X-Men as Wolverine.
Three weeks into the production, Jackman was cast in the role after a successful audition (which lasted barely 20 seconds). Recalling the incident on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, the Ferrari alum had the following to say:
“When I walked into that room, I was pretty sure that I wasn’t playing the role. It was a weird audition because Dougray Scott had the role, and then he got caught up on Mission: Impossible 2, but everyone thought that would get sorted. But they said, “Look, we need a backup plan just in case.” […] I never thought anything was happening with that.”
One person’s influence may have cemented Jackman’s chances of obtaining the part. That someone was none other than Tom Cruise himself.
Tom Cruise Was Against Dougray Scott Playing Wolverine
As production on Mission: Impossible 2 overran, Dougray Scott was obstructed from committing to X-Men (2000). The Scottish actor told The Daily Telegraph that he wanted to play Wolverine and dedicate his time to both projects. However, the leading star of the MI film franchise was adamantly opposed to it. Following was the Hitman alum’s statement:
“Tom Cruise didn’t let me do it. We were doing Mission: Impossible and he was like, ‘You’ve got to stay and finish the film’ and I said I will, but I’ll go and do that as well. For whatever reason he said I couldn’t. He was a very powerful guy. Other people were doing everything to make it work.”
It seems that Hugh Jackman and X-Men fans have a lot to thank Tom Cruise for. Unintentionally, the Top Gun star affected the Australian actor’s chances of landing the job. Without Dougray Scott’s withdrawal from the project, Jackman’s use as a backup would not be conceivable. Today, the world cannot envision any other celebrity stepping into Wolverine’s shoes.
Jackman’s legacy as the gruff, super-powered mutant will live on in cinema history.
We can’t wait to see him in action in Deadpool 3, which is set to be released on May 3, 2024, though the date may change due to the ongoing SAG-AFTRA and WGA strikes.