Kevin Feige Says Hugh Jackman Was Initially Considered ‘Too Tall’ to Play Wolverine: ‘They Were Desperate’

The narrative around Hugh Jackman claiming the role of Wolverine in the 2000 film “X-Men” is well-known lore at this point. As the story goes, Scottish actor Dougray Scott was already cast, but Tom Cruise refused to let Scott be both the villain in “Mission: Impossible 2” and Wolverine, so Scott dropped out, forcing the team behind “X-Men” into a mad dash to find a replacement before production was set to begin. Kevin Feige, an assistant to producer Lauren Shuler Donner at the time, recently shared in an interview with Entertainment Weekly some behind-the-scenes details on what went on.

“There was a scramble to get our Wolverine,” Feige said. “Lauren was very excited about this Australian guy, who had been rejected initially. In my memory, one of the main reasons was that he was too tall. Wolverine in the comics is called ‘Lil’ Fireplugs’ sometimes. He’s a short guy. But they were desperate.”

More from IndieWire

Jackman, who is 6’3”, was flown into Toronto for another audition, but after the reading he did with screenwriter Tom DeSanto and director Bryan Singer, he thought there was no chance he’d get the part. Not wanting to send Jackman “out into the cold,” Feige bought him dinner before taking him to the airport.

“I said, ‘Kevin, we all know I’m not getting the part. You don’t have to do dinner,'” Jackman said to EW. “But no, he sat in there and had a steak dinner with me and then drove me to the airport. I’ll never forget it. That was the nicest thing. I thought, I’ll never see him again.”

It may have been just a brief, innocuous meal back then, but looking back now, it might as well have been a meeting-of-the-minds as both have been huge elements in defining the Marvel brand over the last two decades. To add even more meaning to the narrative, Jackman and Feige finally got to reunite years later for the upcoming “Deadpool & Wolverine.”

“The notion that, all these years later, we’re in a world where [Jackman] is Wolverine, and Deadpool and all of those X-Men characters are together under the same roof, is a pretty amazing quarter-of-a-century experience,” said Feige.

“Deadpool & Wolverine” will be in theaters July 26.

Best of IndieWire

Sign up for Indiewire's Newsletter. For the latest news, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.