Hugh Jackman has revealed he was approached to play James Bond before Daniel Craig and that he ultimately passed on the opportunity for a very specific reason.
Cast your mind back to 2002 and the release of Die Another Day, undoubtedly the worst 007 movie of all-time and a strong contender for being the worst film of all-time, bar none.
Anyway, it was clear at this point that Pierce Brosnan’s time as Bond was definitely up, so Eon Productions began to search for the next man to take up the classic codename.
Jackman was a new kid on the block back then, having just starred in his first major movie, 2000’s X-Men – a part he only ended up getting because Dougray Scott had to pull out of the film after filming on Mission Impossible II overran.
Speaking to Variety, Jackman confirmed that Eon approached him over the role but he ultimately said no. “I was about to do X-Men 2 and a call came from my agent asking if I’d be interested in Bond,” he said.
“I just felt at the time that the scripts had become so unbelievable and crazy, and I felt like they needed to become grittier and real.”
Bear in mind, this is the Die Another Day era – when it was acceptable for Bond to have outlandish gadgets like invisible cars – so he definitely had a point. They didn’t want to hear any of Jackman’s feedback though.
“The response was: ‘Oh, you don’t get a say. You just have to sign on.'” Jackman ultimately passed on the chance though, concerned that his Bond duties and work on the X-Men would take up too much of his time.
“I was also worried that between Bond and X-Men, I’d never have time to do different things,” he said. It was a ballsy move and one that probably paid off in the long-run, with Jackman appearing in some pretty memorable non-X-Men movies in the years since, including Prisoners and The Prestige.
The move also cleared the way for Daniel Craig to excel in the role. Jackman isn’t the first non-Brit to be offered the role – Batman star Adam West previously turned down the chance to play James Bond after George Lazenby, arguing that the part should be played by a Brit.