The original X-Men trilogy helped kickstart the modern superhero movie boom — and it gave us iconic takes on characters like Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine and Patrick Stewart’s Professor X. What that casting might have been though, according to the people behind it, paints a totally bizarre alternate picture.
Speaking in an extensive interview with THR, David Hayter, who wrote the screenplay for the first two X-Men films, discusses some of the totally wild alternate casting choices that might have been:
I was writing it for the comic book characters. I was brought on as they were casting, so I was lucky enough to be there for some of the people who came in like Terence Stamp for Xavier and Janet Jackson and Mariah Carey for Storm. Michael Jackson came in because he wanted to play Professor X. It was amazing. Shaq came in. Viggo Mortensen came in. I really liked Viggo for Wolverine, but it didn’t come together for whatever reason. Angela Bassett was our first choice for Storm, but her agents wanted more money than we had at the time. Same with Rachael Leigh Cook for Rogue.
Angela Bassett for Storm. Michael Jackson for Professor X. Shaq, apparently, wanted to be Bishop, but Hayter eventually cut the character from the script due to his unfamiliarity with the hero. Holy moly, this is crazy.
But can you imagine that first X-Men movie with some of these names floating around instead of what we got? Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine has become iconic at this point, but I want to see the alternate realities where Viggo Mortensen or Dougray Scott — who originally cast as the hero before having to pull out due to suffering severe injuries on the set of Mission Impossible 2 — brought Logan to life.
Or actually, the alternate Wolverine reality I really want to see is the one suggested by legendary X-Men comic writer Chris Claremont in a separate interview with THR: One where, before he saw Jackman audition, he wanted Bob Hoskins to play Wolverine.
Well, that’s a perception of the medium in 1988. At the same time, when I was looking at the pairing of Ororo [X-Men’s Storm] and Logan, to me it seemed perfectly rational to have Angela Bassett and Bob Hoskins, because the image I had of Hoskins was from the films he made in England where they emphasised, in terms of his character, the harshness, the Cockney, the brutality of him. There was a film he did called Lassiter with Tom Selleck, and if you look at the two of them together, Tom Selleck is this 1.83m-plus powerful, handsome, glorious leading man and Hoskins is this little cop. In one scene, Selleck comes to the door of [Hoskin’s] house and Hoskins takes one look at him and hauls off and shoves Selleck back down the drive, yelling “You come to my house?” and just repeating it over and over as he shoves Selleck back down the path and through the fence out onto the street. And the expression on Selleck’s face is “Holy Shit!” and I thought, bingo. That is Logan. That instant rage.
But like I said, this is the world of 1988. Cut ahead 12 years to when we’re sitting down, when [producer] Lauren Shuler Donner was putting together Wolverine and we were talking about it, and the actor who was originally chosen for the role got injured on the set of Mission: Impossible II, Dougray Scott, and she had Hugh Jackman on her list. He had just won the Olivier award for Oklahoma!, which is the totally opposite end of the spectrum, and, again, you look at him and you think, too tall, too handsome, too this, too that. And he walked out into the audition and just nailed it and they put him on a plane to Vancouver within 24 hours to start shooting X-Men. The rightness of that decision has been proved ever since.
I really hope Earth-3981737 is really happy with this version of Logan:
Bad photoshop courtesy of the author. Original image from Who Framed Roger Rabbit.
Because I sure as hell would be.