Almost two decades later, Russell Crowe finally opens up about why he turned down playing Wolverine in the original X-Men movies. Hugh Jackman hung up the claws earlier this year, giving moviegoers one last performance as Wolverine in James Mangold’s Logan. That film, which has since gone on to become one of the most successful X-Men movies thus far, was the ninth time the Australian actor portrayed the famous mutant – over the course of 17 years nonetheless.
At this point, it’s difficult to imagine anyone else in the role of Wolverine. No other actor has portrayed a superhero character in as many movies as Jackman has, not even Patrick Stewart or Robert Downey Jr., at least not yet. Ever since Jackman announced his retirement, people have been wondering whether or not 20th Century Fox will recast Wolverine. There is also the question of who will take over the character’s mantle going forward. Aside from trying to imagine someone continuing Jackman’s legacy, what if a different Australian actor had been cast as the Ol’ Canucklehead instead of Jackman?
While co-hosting the Australian radio show Fitzy and Wippa today (via News.com.au), Crowe revealed the reason he turned down the role of Wolverine in Bryan Singer’s original X-Men movie all those years ago, which eventually led to Hugh Jackman being cast in the part.
“Bryan [Singer] was a friend at the time and he was really putting the pressure on. If you remember, Maximus has a wolf at the center 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’.”
Maximus refers to Crowe’s famous character, Maximus Decimus Meridius from Ridley Scott’s Gladiator, which filmed and released around the same time as Singer’s X-Men. As it turns out, all of the “wolf” scenes from Gladiator were left on the cutting room floor, so Crowe’s reservations were all for naught. Even if the scenes were left in, it seems unlikely that casual moviegoers would draw a comparison between the two characters.
Regardless of what transpired all those years ago, Jackman has officially retired from the X-Men franchise, which leaves a slot open for a new mutant hero. Instead of recasting the character at this early stage, the logical choice would be to continue telling stories revolving around Dafne Keen’s Laura Kinney, aka X-23. Mangold has previously said he would be “shocked” if the studio didn’t capitalize on Keen’s character. Whether or not an X-23 spinoff does indeed happen is something we should learn more about in the coming months, as Logan hits home video and as we get closer to events like San Diego Comic-Con.