It's a well-known slice of movie trivia that Hugh Jackman was not the studio's first choice for the role of beloved mutant Wolverine in 2000's X-Men. Several actors were much higher on 20th Century Fox and director Bryan Singer's lists, including Lord of the Rings star Viggo Mortensen, who has now provided some insight into why he turned it down.
"The thing that bothered me at the time was just the commitment of endless movies of that same character over and over. I was nervous about that. And also there were some things... I mean they straightened most of them out, but I did take Henry to the meeting I had with the director as my sort of good luck charm and guide. In the back of my mind I was thinking he could learn something, too, because I did let Henry read the script and he goes 'This is wrong, that's not how it is.'"
Viggo Mortensen took his son, Henry, to the meeting with him. As a fan of the character, Henry was able to provide some detailed judgement over what Singer was doing with Wolverine and The X-Men, something which ultimately came in handy when the director asked Henry if he was familiar with the material.
"And he goes 'yeah, but he doesn't look like this,' And all of a sudden the director is falling all over himself and then the rest of the meeting was him explaining in detail to Henry why he was taking certain liberties. We walked out of there, and Henry asks if he will change the things he told him about, and I say I don't think so. I'm not going to do it anyway, because i'm not sure I want to be doing this for years, and then a couple of years later I'm doing 3 Lord Of The Rings so who knows."
Back in 2000, Mission: Impossible 2 star Dougray Scott was all set to play Wolverine in the first X-Men before dropping out due to scheduling conflicts. After the role was turned down by Russell Crowe, Hugh Jackman was eventually cast with only a few weeks to prepare. Since then, the X-Men franchise, and Wolverine in particular, have seen huge success, and while Mortensen would certainly have been a great choice, the actor has no regrets, believing as most do that Jackman was the right choice.
"I think he did great. I'm sure no one could imagine anyone doing it better than he did anyway."
While it is unknown how exactly Marvel Studios plans to fold The X-Men into the MCU, (though Disney+ series WandaVision may have provided some clues), Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige was asked recently whether he had any particular actor in mind to take over the role of Wolverine. Needless to say, the Marvel head honcho responded with a pretty definitive "No."
While Feige was quick to shut down any conversations about Wolverine specifically, he has revealed some interesting details regarding Marvel's approach to the wider X-Men franchise. "You know how much I love the X-Men," he said. "I already said that's where I started. I can't tell you anything before we actually announced it, but rest assured, the discussions have been long and ongoing internally." So, it's safe to assume that Wolverine and the X-Men will share the screen with the rest of the Marvel roster someday. Some have even envisioned Viggo Mortensen as the new Magneto.