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Fans of the X-Men franchise likely remember that things didn’t exactly go super smoothly during the making of the first movie – particularly when it came to the character of Wolverine. Initially Dougray Scott had been hired to play the role of the clawed mutant in the superhero film, but due to his commitments to Mission: Impossible II, as well as an unfortunate motorbike accident, the actor was forced to drop out of the project mid-production.
This is what eventually led Hugh Jackman to land the part of Logan in the Bryan Singer-directed film, having been previously recommended for the role by Russell Crowe… but apparently things didn’t start off too smoothly for the Australian performer in the part, as there was a minute when he thought he was going to be fired from the gig.
It’s an interesting time to reflect on the history of the X-Men movies given that they are now coming to an end with the release of Simon Kinberg’s Dark Phoenix, and while recently speaking to The Daily Mail, Hugh Jackman shared a behind-the-scenes story about how he almost lost his chance to play Wolverine very early on during filming. Discussing the experience, the actor said,
I was told that things weren't really working out as they hoped. I was about to get fired from my first Hollywood movie - the biggest of my career. I was angry, I went home to my wife and I complained. I was whinging an Olympic level of whinging to [Deborra-Lee Furness], my wife, and moaning about this person and that person. She listened to me very patiently for about an hour and finally she just said, 'Listen, I think you have just got to trust yourself. You are worrying way too much about what everything else is thinking. Just go back to the character, focus on that, trust your instinct... you've got this.' To me that was love. Someone that believes in you when you don't fully believe in yourself.
Of course, we are all very lucky that Hugh Jackman was able to start trusting himself and his performance, as that “first Hollywood movie” wound up being the first chapter in a job that would end up being a highlight of his career for 17 years. It definitely started unconventionally, as he joined X-Men when it was already about three weeks into filming, and he wasn’t entirely physically prepared for the part, but his version of Logan instantly became beloved following the blockbuster’s release in 2000.
The performance was followed up a few years later, with the character put center stage again in 2003’s X2: X-Men United, and from there he became an incredibly important staple of the franchise. Admittedly it wasn’t all “highs,” as there were some sincere disappointments like X-Men: The Last Stand and X-Men Origins: Wolverine, but he also wound up with a mostly great solo trilogy thanks to James Mangold’s The Wolverine and Logan, got some redemption in the main series with X-Men: Days Of Future Past, and even got to do a fantastic cameo in X-Men: First Class.
We will long look back on Hugh Jackman’s time as Wolverine as one of the most important performances in the history of comic book movies, and it’s strange to think how it almost totally fell apart. Needless to say, we’re incredibly happy that it didn’t.