The comic book genre is virtually ubiquitous at this point, making it easy to forget that Bryan Singer’s X-Men was a huge gamble when it was gearing up for release in the summer of 2000. The director was known for his low budget thrillers, the comic book adaptation had spent years trapped in development hell, and the stench of Joel Schumacher’s infamous Batman & Robin was still lurking in the background.
That’s without even mentioning the relative lack of star power and big names among the cast that could sell tickets to more skeptical audiences. Patrick Stewart was arguably the most recognizable to the general public thanks to his stint as Star Trek: The Next Generation‘s Jean-Luc Picard, but nobody had the faintest idea of who this Hugh Jackman dude was, and he was playing the movie’s most iconic character.
Rachel Leigh Cook was in the ascendancy at the turn of the millennium having broken out in She’s All That, but the actress revealed in a new interview that she’d turned down the role of Rogue before Anna Paquin was cast, and it’s something she admitted was a massive mistake.
”It was a huge misstep. As soon as I saw the posters for it, I knew that I’d made a mistake. I really thought what everyone told me was correct when they said, ‘What we need to do now is make sure you’re taken seriously’. I definitely did things for the wrong reasons.”
Rogue is effectively the film’s audience surrogate who leads those unfamiliar with the source material into the mythology, and Paquin would go on to play a substantial part in the original trilogy. Once X-Men hit big at the box office and went on to become one of the biggest and most popular brands in cinema, it must have stung Cook to see a part she was offered go on to bring so much success to somebody else.