Hugh Jackman finished a 17-year-long run as Marvel’s hairiest and second-angriest character, Wolverine, earlier this year, with the superhero-western film Logan. Along with Sir Patrick Stewart, he’s played a superhero longer than anyone in Hollywood. But it turns out his career was almost shaken up – not stirred – back in 2003. The Australian actor was in consideration as a replacement for Irish actor Pierce Brosnan was the one-and-only James Bond. It wasn’t to be, though.
“I was about to do X-Men 2 and a call came from my agent asking if I’d be interested in Bond,” Jackman told Variety in an interview. “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. And their response was, ‘Oh, you don’t get a say, you just have to sign on.”
Jackman enjoyed playing the Ragin’ Canadian, but wanted to be available to do other roles, like his turn in Christopher Nolan’s The Prestige, and was worried that leading two franchises would keep him from flexing his acting muscles.
It’s ironic to think that the franchise ended up going in exactly the direction Jackman would’ve liked. The 2008 release of Casino Royale revived the franchise with a tense, gritty, and cold portrayal by Daniel Craig, who has gone on to start in four, and soon five, Bond films.
While Jackman’s stint as Wolverine is over, you’ll be able to see him on the big screen again in just a couple weeks, where he’ll be playing the world-famous ringmaster P.T. Barnum in the musical The Greatest Showman, set to hit theaters December 20. He probably won’t have adamantium claws there.