After 20 years of playing the character, #HughJackman is synonymous with Wolverine. But as with anything worthwhile in the entertainment industry, there was a long journey to get to that point. In the '90s, Fox was searching for an actor to play the character in 2000's X-Men. #RussellCrowe was Bryan Singer's top choice for the part, but he ultimately dropped out and recommended his friend, Hugh Jackman, to replace him. His motives for passing on the project remained a mystery until now.
While promoting #TheMummy, Crowe sat down for an interview with Australia TV and opened up about his time as the frontrunner for Wolverine. He stated #BryanSinger was very persistent in him accepting the part.
“Bryan [Singer, X-Men director] was a friend at the time and he was really putting the pressure on.”
However, he rejected the part thanks to a huge misconception. At the time, he was playing Maximus in Ridley Scott's #Gladiator, and his character sported a wolf emblem in his armor. When the actor was offered the role of Logan, he mistakenly thought Wolverine was a wolf-themed superhero. For him, playing two wolf-themed characters back-to-back would not be good for his image as a versatile actor:
"If you remember, Maximus has a wolf at the centre of his cuirass, and he has a wolf as his companion... which I thought was going to be a bigger deal [at the time]. So I said no, because I didn't want to be 'wolfy', like 'Mr Wolf.'"
The ironically hilarious is that, shortly after, Ridley Scott removed almost all connections between Maximus and wolves from Gladiator:
“When Ridley [Scott, director] was cutting the movie, it was inconvenient to keep the dog alive — so the whole wolf thing, no one ever mentions it!”
In the interview he didn't clarify that Wolverine had nothing to do with wolves, but with Hugh Jackman's incredibly successful 20-year journey as the character, it's safe to say he's fully aware of that by now. With this information, it's worth mentioning...
This Isn't The First Time Crowe's Given Roles To Hugh Jackman
Crowe has actually passed on two roles that eventually went to Hugh Jackman: Wolverine and the role of Drover in 2008's Australia (the latter after the sometimes-prickly Crowe had conflicts with the film's director, Baz Luhrmann). Jackman even addressed the topic in 2012 during an interview with Entertainment Weekly:
“Russell has given me advice several times at key moments in my life that helped with my career. I also owe him because two of the biggest roles I’ve ever had in my life, he turned down – and suggested me for them. On 'X-Men,' he was Bryan Singer’s first choice for Wolverine. And he mentioned me also for ‘Australia.’”
The pair finally got to be in the same film together when they acted opposite one another in 2012's Les Miserables, with Jackman playing protagonist Jean Valjean and Crowe playing Javert, the detective intent on catching him.
While it's probably hard for Russell Crowe to look back on all the success #Wolverine has had ever since his cinematic introduction, he has enjoyed a very successful career himself.
Aside from his over 30 years in the industry, he's about to embark in a new sci-fi universe with Universal's Dark Universe. And he ultimately got to be in a superhero universe, portraying Superman's father Jor-El in 2013's Man of Steel. So everything worked out for both him and Hugh Jackman in the end.
What do you think about Russell Crowe's reasoning for turning down Wolverine? Would you have liked to see him in the role? Let me know in the comments!