Besides a few notes in “Les Misérables,” Hugh Jackman rarely misses as one of the most beloved movie stars, stage actors and Ryan Reynolds feuding partners of our time.
But before he ever bared his adamantium claws on the big screen, Jackman made an early career misstep while auditioning for a role in the 2000 action comedy “Miss Congeniality” starring Sandra Bullock.
“No one knew ‘X-Men’ yet. I was a nobody,” Jackman told Variety about the audition, which he only did at his agent’s behest to help negotiate an offer for the rom-com “Someone Like You.”
Jackman was one of a small group of actors that tested with Bullock, who both starred in the film as the undercover agent Gracie Hart and served as producer.
Naturally, Bullock blew a relatively unprepared and green Jackman out of the water.
“‘Holy shit! She’s amazing! And so quick and fast,’” the actor recalled thinking. “‘I’m not even vaguely up to speed here.’ I was pedaling as fast as I could, but I didn’t know the script well enough.”
“It was the first time I’d tested [with another actor],” he added. “I was impressed that she was in there. I didn’t expect her to be in there. I’m guessing eight people she tested with.”
The role ultimately went to Benjamin Bratt, who starred opposite Bullock as her love interest FBI Agent Eric Matthews, but didn’t return for the 2005 sequel “Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous.”
Getting turned down still stings for Jackman, who said he has never “told that story by the way” until now.
“That’s humiliating, when your agent says, ‘I don’t want you to get this job, but just go get it.’ And then you don’t get it,” he said.
But, in the end, it all worked out for the best, as Jackman went onto land the breakout role of his career as Wolverine in “X-Men” that same year, spawning multiple sequels and his own franchise.
More than 20 years later, Jackman is set to reprise the role in the upcoming third “Deadpool” movie alongside Ryan Reynolds. And, no auditioning was required, as he simply called the actor on the phone to express his interest in the team-up movie.
“I think, actually, he’d given up,” Jackman said of Reynolds’ reaction. “I think it was a big shock to him. There was a massive pause, and then he said, ‘I can’t believe the timing of this.’”