Only one actor has ever portrayed Wolverine in live-action super-cinema and, when one thinks of the popular X-Man, it is this actor’s face and physique alone that comes to mind. Put simply, Hugh Jackman is Wolverine. Born to the name James Howlett and later known as Logan, Wolverine is the mutant antihero with powerful healing abilities and deadly, retractable claws in his knuckles. His iconic yellow suit and impressive brawn have stood Wolverine apart since his debut in a 1974 issue of The Incredible Hulk and, in the four decades since he has been depicted alongside the X-Men, Avengers and lesser-known Canadian Alpha Flight team.
Hugh Jackman, meanwhile, is the Tony and Emmy award-winning star of stage and screen, often termed ‘the nicest man in Hollywood’. It’s not a title that one would automatically associate with the character known for his brutal approach to heroism but there’s no denying that Jackman owned the part in the seventeen years he held the part. Sadly, Logan saw the Australian star ditch his claws and run away to the circus. Yet, fans to this day live in hope that he will one day return.
Jackman’s version of Wolverine was not, however, a perfect copy of the comic book character. Indeed, there are many distinctions to be found between the two. So long an association with the part has left Jackman with plenty of incredible production stories to tell and, through them, some truly wild facts have emerged.
We’ve sifted through the best of them and now present 20 Wild Details Behind Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine Fans Should Know...
20 Jackman wasn’t the first choice for Wolverine (or even second…)
Hard that it is to imagine anyone other than Hugh Jackman in the role of Wolverine – it’ll happen one-day folks – the star very nearly didn’t get the part in Brian Singer’s X-Men. Worse still, he wasn’t actually offered the life-changing part until Russell Crowe had turned it down and suggested him. As much as it made sense for Crowe to recommend the part to an actor who shared Australasian roots, Jackman wasn’t Singer’s second choice either.
Up until three weeks into the film’s production, Dougray Scott was set to play Wolverine. Scott eventually pulled out when the shooting of Mission Impossible II ran too far over the schedule to allow him to move over to X-Men. Jackman was cast and history was made.
19 He picked his successor
Having hung up his claws for good, Jackman is not only insistent that he’ll never reprise the part but has already suggested a replacement. In an interview with MTV News, Jackman said that Tom Hardy should follow him in the part. He’s not the only one behind this idea though, with bookies offering odds as low as 3/1 that Hardy will be the next Wolverine.
That said, the recent success of Venom does seem to rule Hardy out. With Disney on the cusp of buying Fox – and possibly hoping to bring the X-Men into the MCU – it feels unlikely that they’ll want Hardy playing two of their hottest properties. On the other hand, Wolverine became Venom long before Eddie Brock.
18 He’s a superhero record holder (but not for much longer)
As it stands, Hugh Jackman shares the world record for starring in the largest number of superhero films as the same character. Christopher Reeve might have managed four back in the day, as Superman, but Jackman racked up a grand total of ten feature film appearances in his Wolverine era. That’s everything from X-Men to X-Men: Origins and The Wolverine to Logan.
Hot on Jackman’s heels, however, is Robert Downey Jr. in the role of Tony Stark – aka Iron Man. Last year’s Avengers: Infinity War saw Downey Jr. equal Jackman’s ten film total – thanks, in part, to cameos in The Incredible Hulk and Spider-Man: Homecoming – whilst this year he’ll take the crown from Jackman for good with Avengers: Endgame.
17 Jackman dug deep to be Wolverine
Bringing a hard as nails antihero to life was no small task for the so-called nicest man in Hollywood and Jackman would be the first to admit that it took him a while to find the character within himself. Among the biggest of Jackman’s concerns was that his character had a large number of complex emotions to express but rarely spoke.
In the process of finding his Wolverine, however, Jackman began to realize that he could take inspiration from his own life experiences. Jackman’s mother left his family when he was only eight years old, stirring within him a heartbreaking sense of anger, isolation and profound fear. Combined, these feelings helped him empathize with Wolverine’s own fictional traumas.
16 His wife didn’t want him to be Wolverine
An actor and producer in her own right, Deborra-Lee Furness married Jackman in 1996. When the role of Wolverine landed on her husband’s desk three years later, however, she advised him against taking it. Deeming the part ‘ridiculous’, Furness told her husband it was a terrible idea after reading just three pages of David Heyter’s original X-Men script.
With Jackman’s Wolverine going on to be a huge success and major money spinner, Furness has since admitted she was wrong. Not only that, in 2013 Jackman revealed that his Wolverine costume had found its way into the couple’s bedroom for very private use. Her response? The claws would be better employed in the kitchen, mixing salad.
15 Jackman’s way too tall for the role
Believe it or not, when he was first announced as the new Wolverine seventeen years ago, Hugh Jackman was a controversial casting. Why? Because, measuring in at over six foot, he was simply too tall to be the Wolverine comic book fans new and loved. According to the comics, at five foot three, Wolverine is exactly a foot shorter than Jackman.
Undeterred, the X-Men production team came up with a few neat tricks to fool discerning eyes. In some scenes, cast members acting alongside Jackson were given platform shoes to reduce his screen presence, whilst shots focussed solely on Wolverine were captured from above for the same effect. In later films, more effort was put into bulking Jackman outwards than downwards.
14 His Wolverine is also much older than the comic book character
Hugh Jackman was born on 12 October 1968 in Sydney, Australia. James ‘Logan’ Howlett, meanwhile, was born at some point in the early 1880s in northern Alberta, Canada. It goes without saying, then, that Wolverine is just a little bit older than the actor who brought him to life in film.
When it comes to Jackman’s take on Wolverine, compared to the comic book character, there is a much more significant age discrepancy, however. Gavin Hood’s widely discredited X-Men Origins: Wolverine opens in 1845 and finds the character already alive to witness his father’s death. It’s the trauma of this that’s supposed to have triggered his mutation – or perhaps it was the realization that he was born forty years premature that did that.
13 Wolverine almost cameoed in a very different Marvel film
With Disney said to be mere months from their long-discussed takeover of 20thCentury Fox, it seems pretty much inevitable that, one day not so far away, Wolverine will wind up in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. While we’d argue that Disney should hold off on this move for as long as possible, Wolverine very nearly made a cross-brand appearance back in 2002.
Yes, Wolverine was, at one stage, all set to cameo in Sam Rami’s first Spider-Man movie. In an interview with The Huffington Post, Jackman revealed that the only thing that stopped the dream collaboration from actually happening was the disappearance of his Wolverine suit. With great suits comes great responsibility and so, without it, the cameo was canceled.
12 Jackman is generous but very unlucky
While we’ve already discussed Jackman’s reputation as being the nicest man in Hollywood, did you know that he is also one of the most generous? During the production of his Wolverine film outings, Jackman grew into the habit of buying every member of the crew a scratch card on a weekly basis. The reason? Jackman says it’s morale-boosting and, let’s face it, it’s a lovely thing to do.
In spite of the positive atmosphere created by the act, however, Jackman has said that not one of the now thousands of dollars worth of scratch cards that he has bought for film crews over the years has ever drawn a substantial prize. Perhaps we should add ‘the unluckiest man in Hollywood’ to his record too.
11 Clint Eastwood and Mel Gibson inspired his take on the character
It’s not uncommon for film stars trying to ‘find’ the identity of a new role to look back to old, iconic performances. No exception to the rule, that’s exactly what Hugh Jackman did on being cast as Wolverine. Indeed, he turned to performances by classic Hollywood A-listers Clint Eastwood and Mel Gibson as sources.
Specifically, it was Eastwood’s steel cool turn as Dirty Harry that gave Jackman Wolverine’s measured characterization, whilst Gibson’s Mad Max inspired him to take a trip down Fury Road. This wasn’t the first time that Eastwood had inspired the character, of course, with his original illustrators mimicking his gait too. James Mangold was also inspired by his film The Outlaw Josey Wales in the conception of Logan.
10 Jackman had some crazy techniques to bring out his muscles
Playing Wolverine requires some serious bulking up. As such, Jackman would spend six months intensively training prior to the filming of each of the character’s screen appearances, adopt very specific diets and perform a hundred clap press-ups. The guy could lift 1000lbs at the peak of his powers and genuinely looked inhuman.
But there was more to Wolverine’s excessive appearance than gaining muscle and Jackman employed a particularly insane method to really bring out his brawn. Prior to shirtless scenes, Jackman would deprive himself of water for a full thirty-six hours. The technique would drain his skin of water weight, leaving only muscle and putting him at serious health risk. Don’t try that one at home.
9 The film Wolverine very nearly met the comic book costume
The most instantly striking difference between the comic book Wolverine and Jackman’s screen iteration is the clothing each selects for battle. Whilst Jackman is most commonly found in dirty white vests, the comic book Wolverine is distinguishable by his bold yellow suit. Though the latter’s suit has changed over the years, the general form and mask have been a constant.
Not so in the films. Jackman’s Wolverine did, however, very nearly come into contact with the iconic suit in a deleted scene from The Wolverine. In the scene, Logan was to be handed a suitcase by Yukio, in which would be the suit. Ultimately, this was cut and Jackman never donned the iconic armor.
8 Dwayne Johnson inspired his diet
Though he’s largely put his professional wrestling days behind him – for roles in the Fast and Furious and Jumanji franchises – Dwayne Johnson still rocks a totally incredible body. Indeed, Hugh Jackman was so impressed with the star’s massive figure that he called him up, ahead of filming for The Wolverine, for advice on achieving so indomitable a physique.
Johnson told Jackman all about the intensive 6000 calorie diet regime he carried out to gain and sustain his muscle. Inspired, Jackman took on the herculean task of astonishing over-eating for himself and had soon pilled on the pounds in muscle. The Rock’s actual process is called ‘carb-cycling’ and involves phenomenal levels of discipline and commitment.
7 Warm water was a hard no on filming days
Having totally transformed his body from human to muscle machine, Jackman still needed to find a way to understand the character he was playing. Method actors are well known for their unusual commitment to finding ways to become their characters and for having the ability to push themselves beyond the boundaries of sanity in the name of authenticity.
One way Jackman discovered to help him get into the hardened mental psyche of Wolverine was to only take cold showers during the production of his films. A grueling and unrewarding activity, the taking of cold showers helped Jackman get into the mindset of the grumpy, two-hundred-year-old anti-hero he came to define like no workouts ever could.
6 There were a lot of claw props in the films
Wolverine might only have three claws on each hand but, in film production terms, that equaled an enormous quantity of props over the seventeen years Jackman held onto the part. In three of Jackman’s ten films, Wolverine appeared with bone claws, whilst the adamantium claws underwent a total re-design for The Wolverine and Logan saw them in a worse-for-wear state.
Exact numbers aren’t easy to come about but we do know that over seven hundred individual claw blades were made for Bryan Singer’s X-Men alone. Three types of blades were created from three different materials: rubber, steel, and plastic. Applying that to the whole franchise, it seems likely that Jackman’s Wolverine got through almost ten thousand claws.
5 Jackman’s son has the best pick-up line
Four years after his marriage to Deborra-Lee Furness - and around the same time he took on the role of Wolverine – Jackman and his wife adopted a baby boy called Oscar. Growing up in the knowledge that your dad’s a superhero might have led to an unusual upbringing for the young Jackman, and his sister Ava, but Oscar has turned the fact to his advantage.
Last year, Jackman revealed to Entertainment Tonight that his teenage son had used his father’s Wolverine credentials as a way of attracting girls. As Jackman put it: ‘I am the wingman for my 13-year-old boy’. Well, that’s one way to go about relationships, Oscar.
4 The Greatest Showman has a Wolverine Easter egg
The move from mutants to musicals might have seemed like a pretty sharp left turn for Jackman but a subtle nod to his former role in The Greatest Showman showed that he wasn’t quite ready to completely let go. After directing Jackman in Logan, James Mangold too switched to The Greatest Showman as executive producer. When Mangold’s name appears in the latter film’s credits, eager fans were quick to spot a Wolverine Easter egg.
You might have to zoom in to spot it but in the corner of the screen, the bulky arms and claws of Wolverine can be seen. Folded crossways and blended into the border, the symbol is clear as day and a marvelous celebration of Jackman’s Wolverine.
3 Jackman didn’t realize wolverines were real
Wolverine, rumor has it, was nearly called Badger when he was first imagined by Lee Wein, the Marvel writer tasked with his creation. Wein’s pitch was to create a Canadian superhero who would help spur comic book sales north of the border. Inspired by Canada’s wildlife, Wein opted to name his new character after a local animal and whittled his options down to Wolverine or Badger. Luckily, the former won out and the rest is history.
Except, when he first got the part, Hugh Jackman had no idea that wolverines were real animals. This wasn’t necessarily a problem, as Wolverine hasn’t actually that much in common with his namesake animal, but became an embarrassment when Jackman confessed to having spent two weeks researching wolves instead. Whoops.
2 Jerry Seinfeld helped convince Jackman to quit
Yes, actor and full time funny man Jerry Seinfeld is to blame for Jackman retiring his Wolverine. When in conversation with the former Seinfeld star, Jackman asked what had convinced him to give him the hit show that had made his name. Seinfeld made inadvertent history in replying: ‘I’ve always believed, you should never spend everything creatively because it’s almost herculean to start up again. You should always have something in the tank.’
Jackman took from this the resolution that he needed to leave the – physically exhausting – role whilst it was still his choice to do so. It was a tough call – made directly after talking with Seinfeld – but makes a lot of sense if we’re being fair.
1 Ryan Reynolds really wants to bring him back
Prior to Deadpool, Ryan Reynolds had garnered himself a pretty shoddy record for superhero films. As if Green Lantern wasn’t enough, his first go at playing Wade Wilson – in X-Men Origins– was hated by fans.
It was Reynolds’ determination to do the character justice that led to Deadpool. As it stands, however, the Deadpool films are the only not to feature Wolverine. Bar a brief cameo, in the form of a paper mask, of course. Determined to see his second-chance Deadpool meet Wolverine, Reynolds has persistently – very publicly – petitioned Jackman to take up his claws for one more film. Up to now, Jackman has stubbornly refused but fans – Reynolds included – continue to live in hope.
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