Although Russell Crowe debuted in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Zeus in Thor: Love and Thunder, he earlier had a chance to appear as a superhero in X-Men but turned down the role. Director Bryan Singer approached Crowe to play Wolverine in the film, a role that The Nice Guys actor refused for a weird reason. Crowe didn’t want to be typecast as a ‘wolf-man’ character, as he had previously been associated with a wolf in his role as Maximus in Gladiator.
The New Zealand actor went on to win an Oscar for Best Actor for his role in Gladiator. After turning down the Wolverine role, Crowe committed to the film, A Beautiful Mind, which won the Best Picture Oscar and earned him another Best Actor Oscar nomination.
Russell Crowe Turned Down A Superhero Role For An Unusual Reason
Russell Crowe’s Oscar-worthy roles in the early 2000s came at the cost of turning down other significant roles. Crowe received offers to appear in movies helmed by esteemed directors including Peter Jackson and Bryan Singer. Singer personally pressured the Robin Hood actor to accept the role of Wolverine in his film, but he politely declined without revealing a reason at the time.
It wasn’t until Crowe co-hosted Fitzy and Wippa radio show on Nova FM that he finally disclosed his why he turned down Wolverine. Firstly, the Les Misérables actor was not a fan of comic books, and he was not very aware of the character. Secondly, and quite strangely, he was worried about being typecast as a “Wolf-Man”. Crowe shared that his character Maximus in Gladiator had a wolf companion and a wolf insignia on his armor.
While ridiculous, The Insider actor believed it to be a big deal at the time. The American Gangster actor shared with Fitzy and Wippa show (via news.com.au):
“Bryan, the director, was a friend at the time, and he was really putting the pressure on. It didn’t feel right at the time, plus I’ve never been a comic person. If you remember, Maximus has a wolf at the centre of his cuirass, and he has a wolf as his companion … which I thought was going to be a bigger deal [at the time]. So I said no, because I didn’t want to be ‘wolfy’, like ‘Mr Wolf’.”
However, his concerns turned out to be for nothing as the significance of the wolf in Gladiator was cut down during editing. Despite rejecting Singer’s offer, the Noah actor suggested his friend Hugh Jackman for the role, who ultimately became one of the biggest assets of the X-Men franchise. Jackman is set to make his MCU debut with Deadpool 3 and he will reportedly appear in Avengers: Secret Wars.
Russell Crowe Also Turned Down The Role Of Aragorn
Peter Jackson and the studio repeatedly pursued Daniel Day-Lewis to star as the heir to Gondor, Aragorn, in The Lord of the Rings trilogy. However, when he firmly refused, the studio turned to their next choice, Russell Crowe. While Crowe was interested in the role, scheduling conflicts with A Beautiful Mind prevented the Unhinged actor from committing to an 18-month production. According to Crowe, Jackson was also not entirely on board with the idea.
Another account also suggests a financial reason behind Crowe turning down the role that eventually went to Viggo Mortensen. The studio, faced with a budget crunch, offered Crowe a profit share of 10% instead of an upfront salary, which the Man of Steel actor was unwilling to accept. Crowe later revealed that he regretted his decision to turn down the role.
The X-Men movies are now available for streaming on Disney+. The Lord of the Rings trilogy is now available for streaming on Max.