When you’ve been cast to play one of the most famous superheroes in comic book history, a little preproduction research never hurts, but after showing up to the set of the 2000 X-Men, Hugh Jackman soon found out that he’d been modeling his Wolverine performance on the wrong animal entirely.
The Australian star recently appeared on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, where the actor reflected on the misunderstanding that occurred from not knowing that his character was named after a real-life mammal:
“Embarrassingly, I didn’t know what a wolverine was. I had never heard of such an animal and I presumed it was a made-up name for the comic book. I’d never read an X-Men comic, I’d never seen one in our zoos. We’ve got a lot of really crazy animals in our zoos in Australia. So I presumed it was a wolf and I did study wolves. I watched some documentaries, there was a big IMAX movie at the time, I went twice to go and see it.”
Unaware that wolverines are actually small, sharp-clawed animals that resemble bears more than wolves, Jackman showed off his canine performance to the director with cringe-worthy results:
“So, I turned up on set for a fight rehearsal and I was just incorporating some of that, you know, wolves always have their nose to the ground. They’re always looking through their eyes and always smelling you. And the director goes, ‘What are you doing, man?’ And I said, ‘I was thinking, you know, I would do some work on the wolves.’ And the director goes, ‘Wolves?’ Why wolves? You’re playing a wolverine.’ And I go, ‘Well, that’s not an animal.’ And he goes, ‘Yeah, it is. Go to the zoo.’”
During this Late Show appearance, Jackman also took the time to pay tribute to Stan Lee, reflecting on the legacy of the late comic book writer who helped kick off the X-Men saga.
“Let me just say to the family and to the legions of fans that I remember Stan as a true gentleman that had this glint in his eye,” Jackman said. “He was a creative genius. He thought outside the box. He created a whole universe that changed the lives of many people, mine included.”
Despite his awkward beginnings in the franchise, the actor would go on to make the character his own, reprising his role in film after film to the point where Jackman and Wolverine are practically inseparable in the eyes of many a moviegoer.
As of last year’s Logan, however, it looks like he might finally be done with the X-Men series once and for all, though his old co-star Ryan Reynolds has said that he’d be keen to get Jackman back for the next X-Force movie, albeit playing himself. That idea still looks like it’s a long way off from getting confirmed, but in the meantime, Jackman and Reynolds should keep each other busy with their ongoing troll war.