Hugh Jackman, once attached to star as a successful make-up salesman in the 20th Century Fox comedy Avon Man, has dropped out to reprise his role as X-Men's Wolverine, Deadline reports. Although Jackman will remain on board to produce Avon Man, sources say the Australian has decided to spend this coming fall rebuilding his muscled physique in order to star as Logan in an upcoming sequel to X-Men Origins: Wolverine, which "tells a samurai story set in Japan." That means Fox's Wolverine 2 could go into production early next year, if Jackman is beginning his training now. Although no director is yet attached to the pic, Christopher McQuarrie (The Usual Suspects, Valkyrie) will be writing the screenplay.
Avon Man, the Full Monty-like story of an unemployed car dealer who falls back on his charm and good looks to sell cosmetics door-to-door, is still set to begin production this October, though director Kevin Lima (Enchanted, Tarzan) and producer Hugh Jackman (along with producing partners John Palermo and Gary Foster) will have to find a new star before then - perhaps lookalike Gerard Butler?
Although the first X-Men Origins: Wolverine movie was pretty disappointing, the superhero pic grossed some $373 million worldwide, so I'm hardly surprised that Fox has a sequel in the works. And I'm excited to see a terrific actor like Jackman reprise his iconic role as Logan, even if I have justifiable reservations about the film itself.
Still, the idea of a Wolverine sequel set in Japan is intriguing - and Jackson's obvious enthusiasm for the project is reassuring as well. "There are so many areas of that Japanese story," Jackman recently told MTV News. "I love the idea of this kind of anarchic character, the outsider, being in this world -- I can see it aesthetically, too -- full of honor and tradition and customs and someone who's really anti-all of that, and trying to negotiate his way. The idea of the samurai, too -- and the tradition there. It's really great. In the comic book he gets his ass kicked by a couple of samurai -- not even mutants. He's shocked by that at first."
Time to start doing some push-ups, Jackman. Those pecs won't build themselves.