Hugh Jackman Failed to Land Role in Miss Congeniality Amid Contract Negotiations

While he may be known in Hollywood as Mr. Congeniality, Hugh Jackman almost actually starred in 2000 rom-com “Miss Congeniality” opposite Sandra Bullock.

During a Variety cover story, Jackman recalled auditioning for the Miss America spoof spy story while admitting that he actually did not want the role, but his agent wanted him to use the part as leverage in contract negotiations for “Someone Like You,” a different romantic comedy starring Ashley Judd.

“No one knew ‘X-Men’ yet,” Jackman said. “I was a nobody.”

Yet the “Miss Congeniality” audition definitely did not go as planned: Jackman realized he couldn’t keep up with lead star Bullock, saying he remembered thinking, “‘Holy shit! She’s amazing! And so quick and fast. I’m not even vaguely up to speed here.’”

Jackman joked, “I was pedaling as fast as I could, but I didn’t know the script well enough.”

Ultimately, Benjamin Bratt got the role of an FBI agent opposite Bullock. “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,” Jackman said.

Jackman went on to star in 2001 rom-coms “Someone Like You” with Judd and “Kate & Leopold” with Meg Ryan, a film which Bullock produced.

“Miss Congeniality” grossed over $212 million worldwide and earned Bullock a Golden Globe nomination. “Someone Like You” landed at $36.2 million box office, with “Kate & Leopold” earning $76 million worldwide.

While “Miss Congeniality” ranks as one of Bullock’s best films, the “Blind Side” Oscar winner later reprised her role for 2005 sequel “Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Dangerous” which was critically panned. Bullock said that she has a “no sequels rule” due to her follow-up franchise films being “stinkers,” like “Speed 2.”

“I feel like, in my old age, I’m learning to fight for the things that I think would be best onscreen — and I don’t care who comes away from the meeting angry,” Bullock said at 2022 SXSW. Bullock starred in adventure romantic comedy “The Lost City” and action film “Bullet Train” in 2022, while Jackman leads Florian Zeller’s Oscar contender “The Son.” Four-time Tony Awards host and two-time Tony winner Jackman even threw his hat in the ring to host the Academy Awards again after a 2009 emcee stint.

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