As Hugh Jackman's The Wolverine continues to slice its way through its box-office competition, let's take a trip back to his very first stint with claws bulging out of his fists in 2000 for the original X-Men.
Although well-established as a stage actor, Jackman was generally unknown in Hollywood when he signed on for his role as "Logan/The Wolverine," as X-Men was his third feature film and first American movie.
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That anonymity allowed him to remain under the radar during the production of X-Men, but not everywhere. As he recounts, some fans of the comic-book series went berserk upon learning of his involvement in the film.
Jackman, who admits that he never read the X-Men comic books, recalls encountering a customs official in the Toronto airport on the way to meet with director Bryan Singer who was ecstatic to learn that an X-Men film was being produced and even more elated to meet an actor in the film.
"He said...'What are you doing on "X-Men"?!' I said, 'Well, I'm auditioning for Wolverine.' 'Wolverine!' [he exclaimed.] 'Sign this for me! ... Where's that customs form?! Sign this!'" the then-31-year-old actor recaps. "I said, 'Man, I'm only auditioning—you're going to jinx it for me.' He said, 'I don't care. Sign it! Good luck, buddy!'"
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"That's when I got an inkling for how fanatical they were; the real meaning of the word 'fan' comes from 'X-Men,'" Jackman says. "They're passionate; it's like a religion. As an actor it's a responsibility, it's a pressure, but it's a good thing."
Plans to adapt the comic-book series to the big screen had been in the works for over a decade, which made the eventual fruition of X-Men to theaters in the summer of 2000 an important moment for the future of X-Men's characters on film.
With an ensemble cast that included Halle Berry, Rebecca Romijn-Stamos, and Ian McKellen alongside Jackman, the film boomed at the box office, taking in nearly $300 million.
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A sequel was instantaneously sent in the works in the later months of 2000 and was released in 2003 as X-2. The success of that film and the subsequent X-Men films resulted in two more sequels and Jackman's own character examination in X-Men Origins: Wolverine.
Now that Jackman has released Wolverine's second starring film, he will soon act in his sixth X-Men film, Days of Future Past, which is a collaborative sequel to X-Men and X-Men First Class.