For seventeen years, comic book fans were never left wanting when it came to Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine. The actor played the character in a plethora of films, whether it be in ensemble X-Men films or solo movies that focused solely on his clawed mutant. With this, a number of directors got their chance to put their own spin on Wolverine, and another filmmaker almost did as well. As it turns out, Jackman once convinced The United States vs. Billie Holiday’s Lee Daniels to pitch a Wolverine film, and Daniels recently recalled how the experience went down.
Lee Daniels has been in the entertainment industry for a while, but it wasn’t until he directed 2009’s Precious that he gained national recognition. The director recently recalled that he got plenty of calls from actors following the film’s success, and this list apparently included Hugh Jackman. The Australian actor asked Daniels to pitch a Wolverine film to Fox, and the filmmaker ended up meeting with the execs. Unfortunately, it didn’t exactly go the way Daniels or Jackman would have probably imagined:
A lot of actors call me. I remember after I did Precious, Hugh Jackman called and wanted me to do a Wolverine. And he sent me into the studio to Fox, I guess that's where they do them at. And I had never done a studio film before and it was a disaster and I literally pulled over ... Yeah, it was at Fox because I pulled over to the Kentucky Fried Chicken afterwards and ate a whole six-pack of wings. It was the worst meeting of my life. I don't know how he gets Wolverine from Precious, but I love him and he's a friend to this day… I pitched. I pitched my way right out of the room.
The story Lee Daniels recently recalled to Collider is probably something any filmmaker dreads. It’s easy to imagine that pitch meetings can be difficult, especially when you’re dealing with massive IPs like Wolverine or the X-Men. Thankfully, it doesn’t sound like Daniels is at all bitter about the experience, as he’s still friendly with Hugh Jackman.
Based on the timeframe within Lee Daniels’ story, it’s possible Hugh Jackman was calling him about a pitch for the follow-up to 2009’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine. The next movie in that series would ultimately be The Wolverine, which was directed by James Mangold. The film would receive mostly positive reviews and perform well at the box office. With this, Mangold would also go on to direct the 2017 sequel, Logan.
As of right now, Lee Daniels still hasn’t ventured into the superhero genre and, while he may be confused as to why he would be sought out for Wolverine, it’s not crazy to think he could helm one of the massive films. Directors who’ve helmed smaller films are indeed capable of tackling larger movies. Marvel Studios, in particular, has proven this notion by tapping indie directors for many of their productions.
Personally, I’d love to hear what Lee Daniels envisioned for a Wolverine movie, though the filmmaker may not be able to share specifics. What can be said is that based on Daniels’ distinct style of filmmaking, the movie probably would have been unlike anything fans have seen from the iconic character, which is probably what Hugh Jackman was thinking when he hit him up.
You can stream Lee Daniels’ latest film, The United States vs. Billie Holiday, on Hulu.