While the role of telepathic sage mutant Professor Xavier in director Bryan Singer’s 2000 feature film “X-Men” ultimately went to Patrick Stewart, he wasn’t the first person to audition for the Marvel tentpole. According to a new Hollywood Reporter exposé detailing Singer’s alleged and already notorious on- and off-set behavior, Michael Jackson at one point threw his hat in the ring to play Xavier when the hit film was still in pre-production.
According to the report, Jackson showed up at the old Fox offices in West LA in 1999, donning sunglasses and refusing to shake hands, to meet with Singer and discuss the role. “I said to him, ‘Do you know Xavier is an older white guy?'” “X-Men” producer Lauren Shuler Donner told THR. “And Michael said, ‘Oh yeah. You know, I can wear makeup.'”
Per the story, Jackson gave an elaborate presentation to executives, accompanied by his 1996 short film “Ghosts,” directed by Stan Winston and written by Stephen King and Mick Garris. The short finds Jackson doing double duty as a magician engaged in a face-off with a white mayor (also played by Jackson) into scaring kids out of town. THR reports that Jackson was never seriously considered for the role that made Stewart an “X-Men” star and primed him for fame outside of playing Jean-Luc Picard in the “Star Trek” franchise.
“Michael was already in the thick of all his allegations by [the time of] ‘X-Men,'” one executive told THR. Those allegations of sexual abuse surrounding the late pop star were explored in painstaking detail in the 2019 HBO documentary “Leaving Neverland.”
The THR story also dives into Singer’s allegedly toxic behavior throughout the making of the “X-Men” films. His run on the Marvel franchise included the 2003 sequel “X2: X-Men United,” 2014’s “X-Men: Days of Future Past,” and 2016’s “X-Men: Apocalypse.” “X2” producer Tom DeSanto allegedly called for production to be halted after learning Singer was “incapacitated after taking a narcotic,” as he “became fearful that someone on set could be injured.” Sources told THR that Singer “was defiant and continued shooting.” Singer’s decision to shoot anyway allegedly resulted in “a botched stunt that left Jackman bleeding on camera.”
Read the full story over at The Hollywood Reporter.