Hugh Jackman Doubted 'X-Men' Would Be a Success (Video)

“I had friends of mine in Hollywood who are like, ‘Make sure you book another film before this thing comes out,’” Wolverine actor says

Hugh Jackman had no idea “X-Men” would be a success before it came out, and the Wolverine actor even made backup plans because he was convinced the movie could actually bomb.

Jackman told James Corden on Thursday just when he knew his life would change from taking the part of Wolverine, but it wasn’t when he got the audition or got cast. Corden recalls seeing Jackman on stage in the musical “Oklahoma” in London’s West End, and he couldn’t believe it was the same person playing Wolverine on-screen just months later.

“There was no sense that movie was going to be a hit,” Jackman said of the first “X-Men” movie from 2000. “I had friends of mine in Hollywood who are like, ‘Make sure you book another film before this thing comes out, because word on the street is not good, and at least you’ve got another one that will give you another shot.’”

Jackman even started taking auditions again, sitting in rooms of up to 30 people as though he were just starting out again. But when he got calls about the enormous box office for “X-Men” (the movie opened to $54.4 million domestically), his wife Deb knew that it was all about to change.

“We were on the stoop, and all the phone calls started coming and the box office, one after another after another, and Deb goes, ‘Everything’s going to be different. Everything is going to change from here.’ And I was like, ‘ehh, nah,’ and she said trust me. And shock horror, she was right,” Jackman said.

Jackman even said that when he landed the audition as Wolverine, he had to race from the West End to Soho between performances of his play and still had a perm that he needed for his performance, so he wore a baseball cap during his first reading.

“Mr. Jackman, I think you should probably just lose the baseball cap, it’s really not Wolverine,” Jackman recalls the casting director saying. “I took it off, she goes, ‘I’d put it back on.’”

Of course, he nabbed the role as the claw-wielding mutant and the rest is cinema history. Jackman portayed Wolverine in nine X-Men films, culminating with a final and critically-acclaimed turn in “Logan.” Earlier this week, Jackman said he’d have played Wolverine in the Marvel Cinematic Universe films had the timing been right.

Jackman appeared on “The Late Late Show” to talk about his new film debuting on HBO this Saturday, “Bad Education,” and also to say that though he has a truce in his feud with Ryan Reynolds, it doesn’t mean they’re suddenly friends.

“Here’s what I’m prepared to put on the table, and you can tell him this. I’m prepared for this to be a permanent truce,” Jackman said. “But truce is not friendship. No. Blake is welcome to come over anytime. Bring the kids, we’ll babysit the kids, love the kids, but no, Ryan, no friendship, just a truce. That’s it. I don’t want to speak to you again. That kind of thing.”

Check out the interview with Jackman above.

All 12 'X-Men' Movies Ranked, From Worst to Best (Photos)

  • The superhero film franchise is still going strong after two decades. TheWrap’s film critic Alonso Duralde ranks all the “X-Men” movies and their spin-offs from worst to best.

    20th Century Fox

  • 12. “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” (2009) 


    It’s incumbent on prequels to have enough vitality to keep us from noticing that we’re heading to a pre-determined destination, but this listlessly written ordeal — loaded with terrible effects and horrible misuse of future franchise savior Deadpool — ranks as the hottest mess of the mutant adventures.

    20th Century Fox

  • 11. “X-Men: Apocalypse” (2016) 


    There are many sins we can forgive in a superhero epic, but dullness is not among them. Director Bryan Singer, usually adept at creating these movies, shockingly drops the ball here, with a who-cares world-domination plot from the titular villain (played by an unrecognizable Oscar Isaac) and more characters than he apparently knows how to handle.

    20th Century Fox

  • 10. “X-Men: The Last Stand” (2006) 


    Brett Ratner has reimagined himself as a successful producer of blockbusters and documentaries of late, and if that means he won’t be directing any more movies like this one, more power to him. Ratner threw out all the characterization from the previous two films and crafted a thud-and-blunder action epic that emphasized cacophony and spectacle over story. It wasn’t enough to kill the franchise, but this one definitely counts as a stain on its reputation.

    20th Century Fox

  • 9. “Dark Phoenix” (2019) 


    What would appear to be the series’ final entry takes the X-Men saga out with a whimper rather than a bang. Jean Grey (Sophie Turner) absorbs an alien force-blob that juices up her powers beyond her control, but the film is far more interested in CG mayhem than in characters or plotting. The whole movie is stolen by the hair and makeup on Jessica Chastain, who has been made to look eerily like music legend Edgar Winter.

  • 8. “The Wolverine” (2013) 


    Something of a mixed bag — we get two powerful and captivating female leads for Hugh Jackman to play against, before the film gets mired in corporate intrigue and Japanese sightseeing — but it’s a huge improvement over the previous Wolverine solo vehicle. Jackman promises one more of these, and then he’s done, so let’s hope the upward trajectory continues.

    20th Century Fox

  • 7. “X-Men” (2000) 


    Here’s where it all began, and a case can be made that the success of this 2000 film, alongside 2002’s “Spider-Man” and 2005’s “Batman Begins,” laid the groundwork for the modern superhero ubiquity. The film cagily presents friends-turned-enemies Magneto and Professor X as the Malcolm X and MLK of mutant liberation, giving this Bryan Singer-directed tale more heft than just dudes in spandex whomping each other.

    20th Century Fox

  • 6. Deadpool 2 (2018) 


    Ryan Reynolds retains his commitment to the bit in a sequel that neither betrays the first film’s promise, nor does it kick things up a notch. As a joke told a second time, however, it’s a pretty fun sequel, thanks to the extension of some beloved bits and the addition of zesty new cast members like Zazie Beetz and Rob Delaney.

  • 5. “Logan” (2017) 


    It’s 2029, and an aging Wolverine and 90-something Professor X are hiding out from the world at large — until they’re called to help a new mutant find her way to safety. On the heels of “Deadpool,” this R-rated entry allows for bloodier violence and saltier language, and if the storytelling doesn’t find new levels of maturity, “The Wolverine” director James Mangold makes the most of his new freedoms, resulting in a rousingly fun character-capper (or is it?).

    20th Century Fox

  • 4. “X-Men: First Class” (2011) 

    British action director Matthew Vaughn (“Layer Cake”) gave the series a much-needed jolt of adrenaline with this prequel, taking us back to the beginning of the story and showing how a young Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and Magneto (Michael Fassbender) joined forces before tragically parting ways and pursuing differing philosophies.


    20th Century Fox

  • 3. “X-Men: Days of Future Past” (2013) 


    After a lengthy absence, director Bryan Singer returned to the mutants, juggling multiple timelines and characters in a saga wherein Wolverine must return to the groovy Paris of the early 1970s to change history and stop the deadly Sentinels from being created to capture and destroy all mutants. This one’s almost as overcrowded as “Apocalypse,” but at least the characters still get some breathing room.

    20th Century Fox

  • 2. “Deadpool” (2016) 


    The overinflated superhero genre has been overdue for a popping, and this breezy action comedy provided the much-needed pin. Making up for the misuse of the character in “X-Men Origins: Wolverine,” a returning Ryan Reynolds turned the comics’ legendary “Merc with a Mouth” into a human Daffy Duck, bouncing back from every explosion and injury while simultaneously shattering the fourth wall and mocking the franchise in the most R-rated way possible. These movies had it coming.

    20th Cenutry Fox

  • 1.” X2″ (2003) 


    Still arguably one of the best superhero films ever made, this entry enjoys all the second-time-around benefits of any franchise where the first movie had to lay all the groundwork and tell all the origin stories. Smart and politically provocative, featuring strong performances by actors who have been given real characters to play, and loaded with plenty of satisfying action, “X2” remains the gold standard — and Singer’s best entry — for this series.

    20th Century Fox

Where does “Dark Phoenix” rank among all the entries in the mutant movie franchise?

The superhero film franchise is still going strong after two decades. TheWrap’s film critic Alonso Duralde ranks all the “X-Men” movies and their spin-offs from worst to best.

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