It’s hard to imagine the X-Men without the legendary Patrick Stewart in the Professor’s chair, but it turns out the actor needed quite a bit of convincing before saying yes to the role.
Speaking to Observer for the 20th anniversary of the original X-Men movie, scriptwriter David Hayter shared that the actor originally turned down the role. “It took a long time to convince him,” he said.
"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.'"
Had Stewart not been convinced, it turns out there were quite a few stars with their eyes on the role. Casting X-Men meant turning down the likes of Michael Jackson and Mariah Carey. “Every day I was surprised by the faces coming in,” Hayter recalled. “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.”
Hayter and director Bryan Singer even flew to Vancouver and offered the role of Jean Grey specifically to Charlize Theron. Theron turned it down, and the cast ultimately comprised of Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry, Famke Janssen, and James Marsden – and we wouldn’t have it any other way.
Stewart also spoke recently to Digital Spy regarding whether he would reprise the iconic role in the MCU. “If we had not made Logan, then yes, I would probably be ready to get into that wheelchair one more time and be Charles Xavier. But Logan changed all that.”
While it’s not yet confirmed if or how mutantkind will be making their way into the MCU, we still have Fox’ swan song The New Mutants to look forward to this August. The movie, which takes place in a mutant conversion facility where five young teens are battling with their abilities, is slated for August 28. Check out more upcoming superhero movies in 2020 and beyond.