Hugh Jackman Shares the Unexpected Story Behind His "20 Second" X-Men Audition

Hugh Jackman has 20 years of performances as Wolverine on his resumé, but back in 1999, he never thought he'd get the iconic role.

Hugh Jackman has spent 20 years playing Wolverine, but only got about 20 seconds to get the role. 

During a remote appearance on The Tonight Show on Tuesday, Aug. 18, the Oscar nominee synonymous with the Marvel superhero revisited his audition for the role in the first X-Men back in 1999. Thanks to host Jimmy Fallon, both the actor and viewers tuning in got to see the original footage as it played on the show, though there wasn't much of it. 

As Jackman revealed, "I think the entire audition was about 20 seconds. It wasn't much longer."

Though the actor has nine movie performances as Wolverine on his acting resume, at the time, he was a backup plan no one thought would actually come to fruition. 

"When I walked into that room, I was pretty sure that I wasn't playing the role," he recalled to Fallon of the audition. "It was a weird audition because Dougray Scott had the role and then he got caught up on Mission Impossible 2, but everyone thought that would get sorted."

In the mix of the uncertainty, "The studio said, 'Look, we need a backup plan just in case,'" Jackman said. "So, it was like this Hail Mary to begin with, which is probably the best way to do an audition."

Jackman noted he flew back the next day from Toronto and did not think anything would come of it. "Who would have thought nine movies later, 20 years later that would have happened?" he mused. 

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In fact, after getting the role, the star also recalled a friend telling him that comic book movies were dead and that he should book another movie before X-Men came out. 

"No one understood," Jackman said. "What they thought was like a sub-culture—comic books—was actually mainstream, but no one knew that."

(E! and NBC are both part of the NBCUniversal family.)

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