For decades, Russell Crowe playing Wolverine has been one of the biggest comic book castings that never quite happened -- and it sounds like the actor is okay with that. In a recent interview on The Howard Stern Show, Crowe spoke about almost being cast as Wolverine in Brian Singer's X-Men, and argued that he would not have been able to give it the brevity that Hugh Jackman ultimately brought to the part.
"There's no way I would have ever done that." Crowe explained. "Even if I'd done the film, I wouldn't have carried it through with the grace and the direction that Hugh gave it."
Given the decades-long time that Jackman spent playing the character - which was capped off by the Oscar-nominated Logan - it's easy to see where Crowe is coming from. As the actor has revealed in previous interviews, his initial decision for turning down the part was much more specific.
"Bryan [Singer] was a friend at the time," Crowe explained in 2017. "And he was really putting the pressure on. If you remember, [in Gladiator,] Maximus has a wolf at the center of his cuirass, and he has a wolf as his companion … which I thought was going to be a bigger deal [at the time]. So I said no because I didn’t want to be ‘wolfy’, like ‘Mr. Wolf’ ...When Ridley [Scott] was cutting the movie, it was inconvenient to keep the dog alive — so the whole wolf thing, no one ever mentions it!"
"I owe [Russell] because two of the biggest roles I’ve ever had in my life, he turned down — and suggested me for them." Jackman explained in 2012. "On X-Men, he was Bryan Singer’s first choice for Wolverine, and he mentioned me also for [Baz Luhrmann’s] Australia. He really is incredibly smart, and generous."
At the moment, the nature of Wolverine's onscreen presence is a bit up in the air, especially as the previously-owned Fox characters are folded into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. As those working behind-the-scenes have hinted, the expectation is for a new actor to be cast as Wolverine whenever the time comes.
"Hugh, just the physicality of it all, just to bulk up,” X-Men producer Lauren Schuler Donner said earlier this year. “This man worked so hard to bulk up, would get up at four in the morning to bulk and eat protein meals every two hours because his natural state, they used to call him Worm when he was a kid. So his natural state is a very skinny guy. Once you reach a certain age, the body just won’t go anymore. I think he was wise to say, ‘I’m at that point. I can’t do it.’ Now, that doesn’t mean he can’t come back as older Wolverine. You never know. Future Wolverine, you never know.”
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