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20 years ago, X-Men was released, and not only was the movie instrumental in popularizing cinematic superheroes, it also introduced Hugh Jackman to the general public. However, had things gone according to plan on X-Men, Jackman wouldn’t have been anywhere near the Wolverine role, as he was brought in as a last-minute replacement… seriously, as in his casting happened a few weeks after production kicked off.
Originally Ever After actor Dougray Scott was the one who was supposed to bring Wolverine to life, but as writer David Hayter recalled, the actor had accident on Mission: Impossible 2. This led the X-Men filmmakers to become concerned that Scott wouldn’t be able to handle the stunts, so they decided to look elsewhere. As Hayter put it:
There’s always panic when you don’t have all the cast and you turn the camera on. We probably made a different choice than Dougray [Scott] rather than him backing out. I don’t remember the politics from 20 years ago. I remember he had some ribs that were damaged, and he was recovering.
Out there in the multiverse, there’s a reality where Dougray Scott wasn’t injured while filming Mission: Impossible 2, resulting in him still getting to play Wolverine in X-Men and kicking off a 17-year tenure that ended with Logan. Wait, does that mean Hugh Jackman’s rise to fame would have gone down differently and he ended up playing Jacob Kane on Batwoman instead?
Regardless, in our reality, Dougray Scott’s injuries were enough to concern the X-Men team. Continuing in his conversation with Syfy Wire, David Hayter said:
That was in August and we were going in September. I think everyone felt it was too much of a risk for him not be ready or able to do the stunts we were envisioning. The search kept going. He was never really cast with a deal in place, that I remember. We had to keep looking and the last-minute choice came from London, where Hugh Jackman was doing Oklahoma!
X-Men marked Hugh Jackman’s third film appearance, having previously appeared in the Australian movies Erskinville Kings and Paperback Hero. Combined with plenty of stage experience stretching back to his childhood, Jackman had certainly demonstrated his performing talents, but he was still basically an unknown. Regarding why Jackman was brought in to replace Dougray Scott as Wolverine, David Hayter said the actor “brought a lot of enthusiasm and that rubbed off on a lot of people.” That Russell Crowe recommendation surely helped too.
That’s not to say playing Wolverine wasn’t a daunting challenge for Hugh Jackman; last year, he admitted that he was afraid he would be fired because he’d heard “things weren't really working out as they hoped.” Fortunately for Jackman, things worked out for him in the end, with X-Men not only doing well critically and commercially (as opposed to bombing, which the actor had feared), but also serving as a launching pad for Jackman to hop aboard other major Hollywood productions.
Alas, all good things must come to an end, and in 2017, Hugh Jackman ended his tenure as Wolverine with Logan, with the actor appearing as Wolverine in nine movies total. And while Jackman would have been game to be part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe if that had been a possibility early last decade, he’s now comfortable having permanently hung up the adamantium claws, but hopefully he’ll be willing to advise the actor who eventually inherits the Wolverine mantle.
Hugh Jackman most recently starred in Missing Link and Bad Education, and he’s set to appear next in Reminiscence. No specific details have come out yet on the MCU’s plans for the X-Men property yet, but we here at CinemaBlend will be sure to let you know once that changes.