Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

James Marsden Nearly Pivoted From X-Men To Preacher In The 2000s

It's hard to imagine pop culture before superhero movies weren't flooding the box office. 20 years ago, around the time of the release of the hotly-anticipated "X2," comic book adaptations were in their first real boom following the success of movies like "Blade" and "Spider-Man." James Marsden, one of the stars of "X2" — the 2003 follow-up to the massively successful 2001 film "X-Men" — talked to CBR about another comic adaptation he was circling at the time. In the "X-Men" franchise, Marsden plays Scott Summers, better known as Cyclops, but he almost took on another superhero role in an adaptation of "Preacher."

In the 2003 interview, Marsden said of being involved in a "Preacher" adaptation, "That's something that I'd like to do. It's one of those Hollywood examples of something that has the potential to go ... It's trying to find all of its financing, but there's a director and there's a producing team and I told them that I'd love to." Marsden said that the director attached to helm the adaptation at the time was Rachel Talalay. Talalay had found success in the horror genre in the '90s with films like "Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare" and the excellent "Ghost in the Machine." She also became something of a cult favorite filmmaker after directing the punk classic "Tank Girl." She and Marsden seemed like a perfect pair to take on "Preacher."

Budget concerns doomed Marsden's Preacher

In James Marsden's interview with CBR, he revealed that the people behind the "Preacher" adaptation came directly to him and asked if he would be interested in playing the titular character, Jesse Custer. He said after that conversation, "I immediately picked up the comic and became a huge fan. It's much, much darker than 'X-Men' and very intelligent." When asked if he was worried about being pigeonholed after following up one comic adaptation with another, Marsden said, "No. I don't think so. There's plenty of contrast in the characters."

Marsden also sounded like the movie wasn't a sure thing at the time saying, "It's one of those things that if it all gets its money together and gets on the right track, because it is a $25 million independent film, then I'd love to do it." The movie, sadly, never came to be. Besides director Rachel Talalay, the creative team in place was to be "Clerks" filmmaker Kevin Smith producing alongside his creative partner Scott Mosier, and the script was to be written by the original comic's writer Garth Ennis. The project languished in development hell for years. Marsden told Box Office Mojo in 2006 when talks of the film started dying down, "They were going to make the movie and I guess the financing fell through or something. I'd love to play the role if it comes together."

"Preacher" did finally get adapted, produced by a different pair of funnymen, Seth Rogen and his writing partner Evan Goldberg. The comic was adapted into a series for AMC, and it lasted for four seasons. Dominic Cooper led the show as Jesse Custer, the role Marsden could have starred in all those years ago.