In an interview with Triple M 104.9 FM earlier this week, Australian actor Hugh Jackman said that he came to be on the filmmakers' radar for X-Men because Russell Crowe, who was offered the job and passed, recommended him.
"Bryan Singer asked Rusty (Crowe) to do Wolverine, and he said, 'Nah mate I've just done 'Gladiator', it's not for me but you should look at this guy," reports Yahoo! Movies.
Leaving aside the fact that they'd better be pretty darned good friends to shorten Russell to "Rusty" and not get punched (I know this for a fact), it's interesting to learn that Jackman, best known at the time for his comedy skills, would have been someone that Crowe saw that kind of action hero potential in.
It worked out, of course; in addition to three X-Men films and a cameo in a fourth, Jackman is playing Logan in his second spinoff film, The Wolverine, due for release in 2013. He's widely considered one of the two or three best pieces of comic book movie casting of the last twenty years (along with Patrick Stewart as Professor X and Robert Downey, Jr. as Iron Man).
"He's a great guy in every way, I have so much time for him and to watch him work, everyone says he is a great actor, when you actually get to work with someone like that," said Jackman of Crowe. He's that good when it matters, in that moment, in that close up tough moment, you just sit back and watch you know someone's got that confidence and is going to deliver. I learnt a lot from him."