Viggo Mortensen on why he turned down playing Wolverine in X-Men

Last Updated on August 5, 2021

Viggo Mortensen, X-Men, Lord of the Rings, Wolverine, Hugh Jackman

After playing the character for nearly two decades, it's hard to imagine anyone other than Hugh Jackman playing Wolverine in the X-Men franchise, but it's easy to forget that the actor was actually a last-minute replacement for Dougray Scott, whose commitments to Mission: Impossible II forced him to bow out of X-Men.

Before Dougray Scott briefly held the role, there was another actor who was approached to play Wolverine — Viggo Mortensen. At the time, Mortensen was known for his roles in A Perfect Murder, Psycho, and G.I. Jane, and while speaking on the Happy Sad Confused podcast, Mortensen spoke of his meeting with director Bryan Singer, which he brought his young son Henry along for, and why he ultimately decided not to take the role.

The thing that bothered me at the time was just the commitment of endless movies of that same character over and over. I was nervous about that. And also there were some things… I mean they straightened most of them out, but I did take Henry to the meeting I had with the director as my sort of good luck charm and guide. In the back of my mind, I was thinking he could learn something, too, because I did let Henry read the script and he goes 'This is wrong, that's not how it is.'

When Bryan Singer asked Henry if he knew about Wolverine, Henry said, "yes, but he doesn't look like this." Mortensen added, "And all of a sudden the director is falling all over himself and then the rest of the meeting was him explaining in detail to Henry why he was taking certain liberties. We walked out of there, and Henry asks if he will change the things he told him about, and I say I don't think so. I'm not going to do it anyway, because I'm not sure I want to be doing this for years, and then a couple of years later I'm doing three Lord Of The Rings [films], so who knows." Had Mortensen played Wolverine, it's likely he wouldn't have been available for The Lord of the Rings, so I consider this a win-win; we got a perfect Wolverine and a perfect Aragorn.

Viggo Mortensen recently made his feature directorial debut with Falling, a drama in which he stars as a middle-aged gay man whose conservative and homophobic father (Lance Henriksen) stars to exhibit symptoms of dementia. The film was recently released in select theaters, Digital, and On Demand, and you can check out a review of the film from our own Chris Bumbray right here, and our own JimmyO also spoke with Mortensen and Henriksen for a video interview. Check 'em out!

Source: Happy.Sad.Confused Podcast

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Based in Canada, Kevin Fraser has been a news editor with JoBlo since 2015. When not writing for the site, you can find him indulging in his passion for baking and adding to his increasingly large collection of movies that he can never find the time to watch.