07-Dec-2017 • Blog
Once in a while an actor pops out of the woodwork and proclaims they could have been James Bond, but for one reason or another it didn't work out.
The latest entry in the hall of 'coulda-woulda-shoulda' is Hugh Jackman, who slipped this quote in a Variety interview about his entire career so far. Variety, of course, popped this into the main headline of the long read:
“I was about to do ‘X-Men 2’ and a call came from my agent asking if I’d be interested in Bond,” recalls Jackman as he dives into a plate of salmon. “I just felt at the time that the scripts had become so unbelievable and crazy, and I felt like they needed to become grittier and real. And the response was: ‘Oh, you don’t get a say. You just have to sign on.’ I was also worried that between Bond and ‘X-Men,’ I’d never have time to do different things.”
The wider media picked up on this and numerous outlets ran bastardizations of the story and claimed Hugh Jackman turned down the role of James Bond. He did not. He was not even invited to a meeting.
Without any knowledge of how the Bond role is cast, there are a few details in Jackman's quote that show he was never close. For one, it was his agent informing him that Brosnan had left and the role was vacant and would he be interested in making an approach? Second, his agent's read of the situation was completely wrong. After Craig was cast, he was intimately involved in the creative process and the retooling of the franchise, ultimately leading to his co-producer credit on SPECTRE. That's a far cry from "you don’t get a say."
Long terms fans may know that it's not just EON Productions that cast the role. The other 50% stakeholder, MGM, has to agree too. After a series of meetings were held with potential candidates (the likes of Hugh Jackman were not included), Barbara Broccoli knew she wanted Daniel Craig to take over. But Craig still had to go through screen testing - along with two other backup candidates - just to prove the point with a skeptical MGM (and also Sony Pictures in this instance as they were co-financing the film).
For the record, if Craig had turned down the role it would have likely gone to either Henry Cavill or Sam Worthington, both who screen tested around the same time as Craig in the final stages. Cavill was the preferred choice of director Martin Campbell but was deemed too young at just 22 years-old.