Hugh Jackman recalls chance meeting with Kevin Feige after disastrous Wolverine audition

Hugh Jackman flexes his claws as Wolverine.
20th Century Fox

Hugh Jackman has become synonymous with the character Wolverine, a role he’s played since X-Men in 2000. However, there’s an alternate universe where Jackman never dons Wolverine’s signature claws and cigar.

In a Hollywood sliding doors moment, Dougray Scott was originally cast to play Wolverine in X-Men. In the lead-up to X-Men, Scott was completing his work as the villain on Mission: Impossible 2. When Mission: Impossible 2 went over schedule, Scott dropped out of X-Men, forcing 20th Century Fox to find a new Wolverine.

Enter Jackman, who flew to Toronto to audition for the role of Wolverine in 1999. With the filming of X-Men underway, the studio needed to find a new actor to play Wolverine quickly. In a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly, Jackman recalled his terrible audition in front of director Bryan Singer and screenwriter Tom DeSanto.

“He’s just going, ‘Quiet … Quieter … Quieter.’ By the end, I couldn’t even hear myself,” Jackman said about DeSanto. “I could tell he was like, ‘Why, on my lunch hour, am I auditioning some guy for a part that I’ve already cast?’ He was pissed off.”

Hugh Jackman as Logan in forest in Logan.
20th Century Studios / 20th Century Studios

Discouraged by his audition, Jackman was ready to leave for the airport until someone intervened. That person was Kevin Feige, who was working as an assistant for producer Lauren Shuler Donner. Feige knew Donner was excited about Jackman, so the future Marvel Studios president took the Australian actor to dinner with DeSanto. “I didn’t want to just send him out into the cold,” Feige said about why he brought Jackman to dinner.

“I said, ‘Kevin, we all know I’m not getting the part. You don’t have to do dinner,'” Jackman explained. “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.”

Three weeks into filming, Jackman secured the role of Wolverine, and the rest is history. Jackman will reprise his X-Men character for Deadpool & Wolverine, which arrives in theaters on July 26, 2024.