Casting a comic book movie is one of the richest mines for historical "what ifs." Just ask Emily Blunt about the time she was almost Black Widow in Iron Man 2, or even the various actors that were considered for the role of Wolverine over the years that it took to make the first X-Men movie, and they'll tell you that sometimes it just doesn't work out. And now, we can add a new member to that list, as Colony actor Josh Holloway recently revealed he was initially cast as Gambit in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. He recalls the moment he got the role below:
I actually screen-tested with Hugh Jackman. It was amazing -- they said, 'You're it, you're the guy, you're Gambit!' and they shook my hand.
For one brief, shining moment, Holloway was set to play the Cajun mutant with an accent that could cut its way through a room as fast as one of his cards could, and the actor was ecstatic. In his interview with Digital Spy, he mentioned how upon his casting, he started to actually practice card tricks and attempt said Cajun accent. While he could do a pretty good job with the cards, it was the accent that he felt he really couldn't pull off.
Though as anyone in the business of show will tell you, you can still land a role and manage to lose it for no fault of your own. All of the work that Josh Holloway had done to prepare for his time as Gambit was for naught, as he would lose the role thanks to one of the most powerful forces in Hollywood: studio heads. Holloway went on to explain that he lost the role due to the following conditions:
[The studio head] said, 'I want someone really young, like that kid in High School Musical!', so there I went.
Eventually, once Josh Holloway was let go from X-Men Origins: Wolverine, the role would eventually go to Taylor Kitsch, famous at that time for playing a high school football player on NBC's Friday Night Lights. While this may have seemed like a win for Kitsch at the time, it would eventually turn out to be a pyrrhic victory, as the Hugh Jackman-led X-Men spinoff would live in infamy as a really bad film, killing the entire X-Men Origins line in the process.
Taylor Kitsch's success was ironic for the actor as well, as his career would embark on a pattern of landing roles in films that would kill the franchises they'd hoped to spawn. Meanwhile, Holloway would muddle through with a mixed bag of roles in projects like Mission: Impossible -- Ghost Protocol and Paranoia, eventually making his way to the three year-strong series Colony. The universe works in funny ways, especially when it comes to Hollywood casting.