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Hugh Jackman reveals real reason he lost role with Sandra Bullock in Miss Congeniality

"No one knew X-Men yet," he said. "I was a nobody"

Kathy Campbell
Kathy Campbell - New York
New York
27 October 2022
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You can't win them all. There was a time when Hugh Jackman wasn't at the top of every casting director and producer's list. As the Australian actor took a look back at his early days in a new cover story for Variety, he talked for the first time about one major role that got away.

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Early in his Hollywood career, Hugh, 54, was sent by his agent to audition for the role of the love interest in Miss Congeniality, the 2000 romantic comedy starring Sandra Bullock.

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Hugh told Variety that he didn't even want the gig, but his agent pushed him to get it so that he could use it as leverage while negotiating Hugh's salary for a role he'd been offered in another movie — Someone Like You, with Ashley Judd.

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"No one knew X-Men yet," the Tony, Emmy and Grammy award winner said of the film that he'd wrapped just before auditioning for Miss Congeniality. "I was a nobody."

Sandra Bullock Hugh Jackman© Photo: Getty Images

Miss Congeniality was one of Sandra's biggest hits

As he read lines with Sandra, 58, for his audition, Hugh was blown away. He remembered thinking, "'Holy [explicit]! She's amazing! And so quick and fast. I'm not even vaguely up to speed here.' I was pedaling as fast as I could, but I didn't know the script well enough."

Sandra Bullock Benjamin Bratt Miss Congeniality© Photo: Alamy

Hugh lost the role in Miss Congeniality to Benjamin Bratt

It was the first time he'd tested with another actor and Hugh told the outlet that he was impressed that Sandra, who was by then a big star, was reading with him. "I didn't expect her to be in there. I'm guessing eight people she tested with," he said.

Even though he hadn't wanted the role of FBI agent Eric Matthews (which went to Benjamin Bratt), Hugh thought it would be an easy part to nab and was embarrassed when he didn't get it.

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"That's humiliating, when your agent says, 'I don't want you to get this job, but just go get it.' And then you don't get it," the Greatest Showman star said.

Both Miss Congeniality and X-Men were released within months of each other in 2000, with Sandra's film bringing in $212 million at the box office, while Hugh's Marvel blockbuster raked in $296 million. He's set to reprise his role as X-Men's Wolverine in a 10th film, Deadpool 3, opposite his pal — and Sandra's former Proposal costar — Ryan Reynolds. It's set to be released in November 2024.

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