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Hugh Jackman's been playing Wolverine since 1999, when he was plucked from theater work to replace Dougray Scott on the first X-Men movie. With the release of Logan today, Jackman has officially left the character behind for good, but this wasn't the first time that the actor thought about retiring as Wolverine. When X-Men Origins: Wolverine was released in 2009, Jackman gave serious consideration to exiting the X-Men franchise permanently.
In an interview with EW, Hugh Jackman talked about how following X-Men Origins: Wolverine's poor critical reception, as well as the fact that the movie was leaked online over a month before its intended release, he didn't think he'd be able to play Wolverine again. He explained:
I couldn't see what the next thing was. I don't know what else to do. I don't know where to go.
Hugh Jackman added that one of the other big reasons he didn't know if he wanted to play Wolverine again at the time was due to his need to "break new ground." However, the poor reaction to X-Men Origins: Wolverine did weigh heavily on him. Commercially, X-Men Origins: Wolverine did okay for itself, making over $373 million worldwide, though surely that number would have been at least a little higher had the online leak not occurred. Critically, though, it's considered to be one of the worst X-Men movies, if not at the very bottom of the list. Jackman also noted that while he knows a lot of folks like the character, some fans still come up to him to voice their displeasure about the prequel movie. 2014's X-Men: Days of Future Past ended up wiping most of the events from X-Men Origins: Wolverine from continuity, as later evidenced by Jackman's brief Wolverine appearance in X-Men: Apocalypse.
So what got Hugh Jackman to return for another full Wolverine appearance (he cameoed in 2011's X-Men: First Class) after Origins? It was director Darren Aronofsky, who originally signed on to direct The Wolverine and impressed Jackman with the idea of how even though Wolverine heals fast, he still leaves scars behind. Aronofsky ended up dropping out as director and was replaced by James Mangold, and The Wolverine went on to enjoy a better critical performance than its predecessor. Logan, though, brings Aronofsky's ideas to the forefront, as Jackman knew he wanted the third movie to be something especially unique. Jackman continued:
In any creative field, you have to feel that, 'Oh, this excited me' or 'That's how I should have played it the last five times, and now I know how to do it.' I think this film demonstrates that better than any.
You can see Hugh Jackman pop the adamantium claws one last time in Logan, which is now playing in theaters.