X-Men executive producer Ralph Winter has revealed that music icon Michael Jackson wanted to play Professor X in the comic-book adaptation.
Winter worked on X-Men for several years before it was eventually turned into a blockbuster in 2000. During this time dozens of actors and celebrities approached him about playing a variety of characters, something that he recently recalled to Observer.
“I have lots of warm memories of people that came in wanting to be in the movie. Michael Jackson was a big comic fan and wanted to play Charles Xavier. Shaquille O’Neal showed up at the offices and wanted to play Forge, who wasn’t in the movie.”
The list of people that turned down roles in X-Men is nearly as long, too. Not only did Russell Crowe pass on playing Wolverine, but so did Viggo Mortensen, while Charlize Theron also rejected the part of Jean Grey, too.
It turns out that Patrick Stewart was just as adamant about not staring as Charles Xavier, too, with screenwriter David Hayter saying that it took them a long time to convince the English actor to sign-up. So much so that numerous other actors approached him about playing Professor X.
“Terence Stamp told me, ‘You know why Patrick doesn’t want to do it? Because of the chair. He doesn’t want to be stuck in the chair. But I don’t mind. In fact, I also look excellent bald.’”
“Everyday I was surprised by the faces coming in. Like, I’d find Mariah Carey sitting in my office wanting to go talk to Bryan about being Storm or something. So that’s always shocking.”
Ultimately, the X-Men cast was confirmed as Stewart, Ian McKellen, Halle Berry, Famke Janssen, James Marsden, Anna Paquin, Rebecca Romijn, Ray Park, and Dougray Scott, only for the latter to drop out and be replaced by Hugh Jackman three weeks into filming.