Viggo Mortensen Tells the Story of His Son Shutting Down Bryan Singer in ‘X-Men’ Meeting

Mortensen turned down the role of Wolverine in Singer's "X-Men" because he didn't want "the commitment of endless movies."
Viggo Mortensen and Wolverine in "X-Men"
Viggo Mortensen and Wolverine in "X-Men"
Everett Collection/Fox

Viggo Mortensen has often discussed turning down the role of Wolverine in Bryan Singer’s 2000 comic book tentpole “X-Men,” but the specifics of his decision came into clearer focus during the actor’s recent appearance on MTV’s “Happy Sad Confused” podcast. Mortensen brought his comic book-loving son Henry to a meeting with Bryan Singer, and the young boy made it known that he took issue with Singer’s storyboards depicting Wolverine’s look in the movie. According to Mortensen, Henry shut down Singer’s approach to Wolverine to Singer’s face, which left the director “falling all over himself” and attempting to “explain in detail why he was taking certain liberties.”

By the time Henry called out Singer, Mortensen had already made up his mind that he would not accept the role. Although the actor would go on to sign up for three “Lord of the Rings” movies, at the time of the “X-Men” discussions, he was not interested in taking on a role that would commit him to an infinite amount of film projects.

“The thing that bothered me at the time was just the commitment of endless movies of that same character over and over,” Mortensen told MTV. “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.’”

Mortensen continued, “And [Henry] goes, ‘Yeah, but he doesn’t look like this.’ 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,’ so who knows.”

While Mortensen’s “Lord of the Rings” role would extend over three films, taking on Wolverine in “X-Men” would have lasted even longer. Hugh Jackman famously landed the Wolverine role and went on to star in seven “X-Men” movies as a main character, plus cameo appearances in other “X-Men” sequels and comic book films. Outside of “Lord of the Rings,” Mortensen has never taken on a character as part of a multi-film commitment.

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