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Actors Who Almost Played Wolverine

The Wolverine solo movie Logan will mark the eighth time that Hugh Jackman has portrayed Wolverine, a.k.a. James Howlett, a.k.a. the most awesome comic book character to ever come out of Canada. He's probably the most widely recognizable of all the X-Men, and getting the role for the first X-Men movie in 2000 made the Australian actor an instant star. He was virtually unknown to American audiences up to that point, meaning that while he was clearly the best pick, he certainly wasn't the first one. Here are some other actors who almost portrayed Wolverine.

Bob Hoskins

In 1989, an X-Men movie was in the works at Carolco Pictures. Marvel writer and editor Chris Claremont wrote a screenplay, and he and his boss Stan Lee almost signed James Cameron to produce and Kathryn Bigelow to direct. Claremont's first choice for Wolverine: British actor Bob Hoskins. While Hoskins is best known for not-too-intimidating roles like Mario in Super Mario Bros. and the romantic interest in Mermaids, in the early '80s he played a lot of toughs and heavies in movies like The Long Good Friday and Mona Lisa. And like Wolverine, he was short, muscular, and scrappy. Hoskins never got to slice anybody up in the end, because Carolco went bankrupt not long after Claremont's pitch.

Keanu Reeves

An action star and an A-list actor, Reeves was naturally in consideration for the role of Wolverine when Bryan Singer started assembling an X-Men cast in 1999. And, just like the character, Reeves is Canadian. But perhaps the person most opposed to Reeves as Wolverine was Reeves himself. In 1999 he told the Australian magazine Rip It Up that although he had met with Singer, he wasn't "really sure if I'm the right one for it. I mean, I love the X-Men comics, but the older comics, the classic ones. I don't think I'm going to be right. I'd like to—you know when you read something when you're a kid and you think, 'I want to do that!' But I'm not sure I can."

Mel Gibson

Around 1997, the Oscar-winning actor/director was reportedly asked if he wanted to play Wolverine. While Gibson has never personally confirmed the rumor, concept art whipped up by prolific Hollywood artist Miles Teves would suggest that the studio and creatives behind X-Men really wanted Gibson. In 2014, Teves leaked online the sketches he'd done to nail down the look of the movie almost two decades earlier, including his renderings of what Gibson would look like with Wolverine hair and claws.

Dougray Scott

Sometimes an emerging actor will have a stretch of two or three huge movies released in a short period of time and propel themselves onto the A-list. A recent example: Chris Pratt, with the rapid success of The Lego Movie, Guardians of the Galaxy, and Jurassic World. Scott looked to be following the same trajectory in the late '90s—shortly after it was announced that the Scottish actor had scored a co-starring role in Mission: Impossible II, he was cast as Wolverine in the first X-Men movie. But then production problems delayed the shooting of MI:2. FIlming went on so long that Scott had to drop out of X-Men, and Jackman got the gig.

Russell Crowe

Crowe was both a box office star and critic's darling when X-Men started coming together in the '90s—he was just starting a stretch of three straight Oscar nominations for The Insider, Gladiator, and A Beautiful Mind. Understandably quite busy, Crowe politely declined the chance to play Wolverine, but suggested to producers that they look at a good friend of his, fellow Australian actor Hugh Jackman. Producers weren't so interested in an unknown actor best known for starring in a Broadway revival of Oklahoma! to anchor its action franchise and play its most famous character, so they looked at a couple of other actors instead. (Note to self: always follow Russell Crowe's casting advice.)

Glenn Danzig

There were several aborted attempts at X-Men movies in the '80s and '90s, and the producers behind one of them seriously considered casting metal god Glenn Danzig, frontman of the Misfits and his own band, Danzig. It makes sense: Danzig is short, muscular, and wound up—all of which can also be said for Wolverine. Danzig ultimately bowed out because filming a major motion picture would mean keeping his band off the road for an extended (and costly) period.

Kodi Smit-McPhee

Wolverine is hundreds of years old, but he was young once, prior to his mutations. Young Wolverine (or rather James Howlett) was depicted in, logically X-Men Origins: Wolverine, and portrayed by Australian kid actor Troye Sivan. (What is it about Australians and this Canadian superhero?) But he wasn't the first choice. Filming for Wolverine was originally set to start in December 2007, with Kodi Smit-McPhee signed on to play James...but then the production got delayed. Already contracted to co-star in The Road, Smit-McPhee had to move on and the role was recast. (All's well that ends well: he ultimately returned to the franchise after landing the role of Nightcrawler in X-Men: Apocalypse.)

Viggo Mortensen

Funnily enough, after losing the chance to play young Wolverine, Kodi Smit-McPhee starred in The Road with another almost-Wolverine: Viggo Mortensen. In 2015, Mortensen told The Daily Beast that he was offered the part around the same time he was offered the role of Aragon in The Lord of the Rings. Not a bad decision to make: which huge movie franchise would you rather be a part of? Mortensen ultimately went for fantasy over superhero adventure.

Jonathan Schaech

Schaech, best known for That Thing You Do! and more recently playing DC Comics character Jonah Hex on the CW's Legends of Tomorrow, has thrown his hat in the ring to replace Hugh Jackman should the Marvel character ever make another big-screen appearance. No decisions have yet been made on Wolverine's movie future beyond Logan, and nobody from the studio has actually asked Schaech to participate, but if they come calling, he's more than ready. "If I could play any character, it'd be Wolverine," he said. "I feel like he's why I wanted to start acting."