Dougray Scott as Wolverine
Not far behind the Spider-Man franchise is X-Men, which really paved the way for the superhero genre in the 21st century after Batman and Robin ripped it to shreds at the end of the 20th. However, would X-Men have been such a success without Hugh Jackman anchoring the role of Logan, aka Wolverine?
Dougray Scott, the Scottish actor, was actually hired to play the Canadian wildman with the super-sideburns when director Bryan Singer was assembling his mutant team for X-Men in 1999. Scott was ultimately forced to pull out just as they began filming, due to scheduling conflicts with Mission: Impossible II.
In stepped the multi-talented Jackman, who grabbed the film by the scruff of the neck and got himself a Hollywood career, including his own spin-off film, X-Men Origins: Wolverine.
Jackman talked about taking over from Scott during a 2003 interview:
“I have spoken to him, I didn’t quite have the guts to say thank you, I kind of apologized more to him … he said ‘Ah, that’s Hollywood, these things happen’.”
Legend has it that before Scott and Jackman were cast, Gary Sinise, Russell Crowe, Viggo Mortensen, Aaron Eckhart and even Jean-Claude van Damme were also considered for the role of Wolverine, while Fox Studios reportedly wanted Keanu Reeves (shows what they know).
Jim Caviezel as Cyclops
While Patrick Stewart was understandably the only actor considered for the part of wheelchair-bound Professor Xavier in Bryan Singer’s X-Men, the early contenders for the role of Scott Summers (aka Cyclops) were said to be Thomas Jane, Johnny Lee Miller, Eric Mabius, Owen Wilson, Edward Burns, Edward Norton and Jude Law, with Jim Caviezel actually winning out.
However, much like Dougray Scott, Caviezel was forced to drop out due to a prior engagement – Frequency with Dennis Quaid. The role of Cyclops then went to James Marsden, and with it, platform shoes so Marsden wouldn’t look so short in comparison to the likes of Hugh Jackman (Wolverine) and Tyler Mane (Sabretooth).
Caviezel probably didn’t miss much – and may have been the one who dodged the bullet – considering that Scott Summers/Cyclops’ involvement in the X-Men series diminished more and more with each film, though his lack of screen-time in X-Men: The Last Stand was the result of Marsden’s own decision to switch comic book camps – from the Marvel universe to DC – to play Lois Lane’s fiancee in Superman Returns.
Ironically Caviezel would eventually play a ‘superhero’ of another kind – Jesus in Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ, which in turn led to director Bryan Singer to disqualify him from the race to play the Man of Steel in Superman Returns. Apparently Singer didn’t want Jesus playing Superman.
Caviezel said as much in a recent interview:
“I first saw Superman with Christopher Reeve and I just thought that he set the standard there. The first one, the (Richard) Donner film, was amazing. But (Caviezel’s involvement in Singer’s new Superman) just never came to be … I think that by playing Jesus made them stay away from that, as there was too much attention drawn to it.”