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X-Men '97's Cal Dodd says Hugh Jackman prepped for Wolverine by listening to his voice

Ahead of the actor's return to the claws in Disney+'s X-Men '97, Dodd recounted the story of his chat with the live-action Logan

Image credit: 20th Century Fox

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Few voices from the '90s are as iconic to a certain generation as that of Cal Dodd, the actor behind Wolverine in X-Men: The Animated Series. For six years, the Canadian actor provided a growly, gravely interpretation of the X-Men’s breakout star that continues to loom over interpretations of the character to this day, and even returns to the role in the just-dropped X-Men '97. But even beyond becoming memorable for fans, Dodd’s voice served as an inspiration for another iconic Wolverine actor, providing grist for Hugh Jackman as he prepared to take on the part in 2000’s X-Men feature film. And, as Dodd recently recalled, it led to a memorable first encounter between the two actors.

"[The producers] gave me a line…and said, 'a little bit of Clint Eastwood,'" Dodd told the crowd at an X-Men cast reunion panel at the C2E2 convention in Chicago in 2023. "And they mentioned some other names – Steve McQueen, which I like, because he’s very quiet and shorter, and very into himself. And then I put in a little bit of a 'Wolfman Jack, baby.'" Dodd’s throaty growl proved to be exactly what both producers and audiences were looking for.

Eight years later, Dodd found himself at the other end of the casting call, as actor Hugh Jackman underwent preparation to find his own voice as Wolverine ahead of 2000’s live action X-Men film.

"They were in Toronto shooting that first movie, and they had a wine and cheese party and they wanted the two Wolverines to meet," Dodd remembered. "And [Jackman] was told when he was prepping for the role, 'You should listen to Cal Dodd from the X-Men series, because it’s the only voice people know as Wolverine.' So when we were introduced, I said, 'Nice to meet you,' and he said, 'Pleasure to meet you, too, mate, but I’m sick and tired of listening to your voice!'"

"So I shot him," Dodd added in a deadpan tone to audience laughter.

Both Dodd and Jackman would later confess to some initial bewilderment as to just what sort of character they were expected to play. During the C2E2 panel, Dodd recalled his first recording session trying out for the role: "They gave me this line, and I still didn’t know what the cartoon was about," he remembered. "I said – and this is not a lie – 'Is this an animal cartoon?'"

Jackman, for his part, has admitted that he initially didn’t even realize wolverines were real animals, thinking instead that the character was supposed to be a mutant wolf: "I literally, embarrassingly did about two weeks of research on wolves. I was rehearsing for three weeks and I was shooting, so I was kind of on my own," Jackman said in 2017.

As fate would have it, both actors have the chance to reprise their trademark role. Dodd is returning as Wolverine alongside the rest of his X-Men: The Animated Series castmates now that X-Men ’97 is on Disney+, while Jackman will be returning to the part opposite Ryan Reynolds in this summer’s Deadpool & Wolverine.

Think Cal Dodd's inspiration paid off? One way to find out is by watching all the Wolverine movies in order.

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