It took almost forty years for the X-Men to jump from the printed page to the big screen, not that there weren't attempts along the way to make it happen. A number of X-Men movie scripts were written in the decades leading up to "X-Men's" release in 2000, but none were made. Instead, fans are only left with questions about what might have been -- and that goes for comic creators too.
It turns out that legendary "Uncanny X-Men" writer Chris Claremont, who wrote the team's adventures for a solid 16-year run (in addition to launching titles like "Wolverine," "Excalibur" and "New Mutants") had a number of actors in mind should an X-movie get off the ground. While speaking with The Hollywood Reporter about "Logan," Claremont spoke about his original Wolverine casting: Bob Hoskins.
The 5'6" British actor is most known to modern audiences as Mario in 1993's "Super Mario Bros." and private eye Eddie Valiant in "Who Framed Roger Rabbit." Back in 1988, though, Hoskins was also Claremont's ideal Wolverine.
"Well, that’s a perception of the medium in 1988. At the same time, when I was looking at the pairing of Ororo [X-Men’s Storm] and Logan, to me it seemed perfectly rational to have Angela Bassett and Bob Hoskins, because the image I had of Hoskins was from the films he made in England where they emphasized, in terms of his character, the harshness, the Cockney, the brutality of him," said Claremont. He specifically cited 1984's "Lassiter," which teamed Hoskins with Tom Selleck, as evidence that Hoskins could pull off Logan's berserker rage. In one scene, Selleck comes to the door of [Hoskin’s] house and Hoskins takes one look at him and hauls off and shoves Selleck back down the drive, yelling 'You come to my house?' and just repeating it over and over as he shoves Selleck back down the path and through the fence out onto the street. And the expression on Selleck’s face is 'Holy Shit!' and I thought, bingo. That is Logan. That instant rage."
No X-Men movie got off the ground in the '80s, though, and Claremont's ideal casting never came to be. But that's not to say he doesn't love Hugh Jackman in the role. "Cut ahead 12 years to when we’re sitting down, when [producer] Lauren Shuler Donner was putting together Wolverine and we were talking about it, and the actor who was originally chosen for the role got injured on the set of 'Mission: Impossible II,' Dougray Scott, and she had Hugh Jackman on her list. He had just won the Olivier award for 'Oklahoma!,' which is the totally opposite end of the spectrum, and, again, you look at him and you think, too tall, too handsome, too this, too that. And he walked out into the audition and just nailed it and they put him on a plane to Vancouver within 24 hours to start shooting 'X-Men.' The rightness of that decision has been proved ever since."
Claremont also spoke about "Logan" being Jackman's last turn as the character, although the longtime X-Men writer hopes that's not the case. "Well, what I keep thinking of deep down inside is, 'Oh, come on. Come on. Sean Connery said he was stepping away from the role [of James Bond] and he came back. Just one more. Just one more.'"
Replacing Jackman won't be easy, either, according to Claremont. "To me, it’s like falling in love with the film version of him as much as I did with the short guy from the comic books. It is very hard for me to think of Logan without thinking of Hugh Jackman and I have no idea who out there could take over from him if they moved ahead. It’s like thinking of anyone other than Harrison Ford playing Han Solo or Indiana Jones. The actor is so bound up with the character in this instance, that I don’t really want to think about it that way. Maybe in five years, or 10 years, they could come up with somebody new and it would be brilliant, but for me Hugh is Logan. As much in his own way that Patrick Stewart is Charlie. Yes, I acknowledge James McAvoy, yes I acknowledge Michael Fassbender, but to me it’s Stewart and Ian McKellan. They’re the guys. But, if you gotta go, this is the way to do it."
Directed by James Mangold, written by Michael Green, Scott Frank, James Mangold and David James Kelly, and starring Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Boyd Holbrook, Richard E. Grant, Dafne Keen and Stephen Merchant, “Logan” arrives in theaters on March 3.