How Hugh Jackman playing Wolverine was the luckiest casting break in Hollywood history

The role that made him a star was supposed to go to someone else.

Hugh Jackman in X-Men: Origins - Wolverine
The Wolverine Hugh Jackman as Logan Image Picture 20th Century Fox

Hugh Jackman, the actor most famous for playing Wolverine in the X-Men franchise turns 48 years old today (October 12).

Including cameos, Jackman has now portrayed Wolverine on the big screen eight times, with a ninth and final appearance to come in next year’s Logan, being directed by James Mangold.

What might be a little surprising to some is that Jackman was actually never supposed to play Wolverine at all.

Originally, Scottish actor Dougray Scott was cast in the role for 2000’s X-Men movie. However, Scott was forced to relinquish the part when shooting for another movie he was doing, Mission Impossible II, went over schedule.

For Scott, who’s now appearing in Fear The Walking Dead, the missed opportunity is not something he dwells on.

Dougray Scott Mission Impossible 2
Nearly man Dougray Scott in Mission Impossible 2. Image Paramount Pictures

“Listen, I’ve really enjoyed the movies I got to do and the TV work. I feel very fortunate anyway. I like Hugh, he’s a really lovely guy. It wasn’t as if he stole it off me,” he said in a 2013 interview with the Daily Record.

“Basically, my movie ran over and I had to pull out. It wasn’t his fault and he did a fantastic job.”

This meant Jackman was brought in at the eleventh hour. He had a mere two weeks to get into Wolverine shape for the movie. At the time he was starring in the London West End production of Oklahoma!, a world away from the clawed mutant.

Watching the original X-Men movie now, it’s easy to notice that Jackman’s physique is noticeably skinnier than the bulked up version we’ve seen in all the X-Men and standalone Wolverine movies since.

It’s hard to imagine anyone else ever playing everyone’s favourite rapidly healing mutant now that Jackman has become so synonymous with the role.

It’ll be interesting to see whether or not the Wolverine character gets retired after next year’s Logan, or if they decide to go down the reboot/recasting after a few years.

Check out this video of Jackman’s audition for Wolverine way back from 1999:

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Loaded digital reporter Oli Palmer has been writing about film/TV since 2013. Follow Oli on Twitter at @olipalmer