Miss Congeniality Could Have Made Hugh Jackman The Love Interest For Sandra Bullock

Over 20 years later, it's next to impossible not to hear Sandra Bullock's singsong teasing of "You think I'm gorgeous, you want to kiiiiiiss me, you want to huuuuug me, you want to looooove me, you want to smoooch me," and not immediately picture the bashful face of Benjamin Bratt. The romantic crime comedy, "Miss Congeniality," helped solidify Sandy's place as America's Sweetheart, when she starred as Gracie Hart, a tomboy agent the FBI gives a makeover to in order for her to go undercover as a contestant in the Miss United States pageant after a domestic terrorist makes a bomb threat.

The film was a huge success at the box office, and spawned the sequel, "Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous." While Bullock teams up with a pageant coach played by Michael Caine, she starts to develop a romance with fellow FBI agent Eric Matthews, played to perfection by Benjamin Bratt. Imagining anyone else in the role at this point feels sacrilegious, but a recent interview with Variety revealed that Agent Matthews was almost played by Hugh Jackman.

At the time of production, Jackman was still a relative unknown. He said he didn't actually want to be in "Miss Congeniality," but his agent encouraged him to go out for the role in the hopes that he'd get it, and then they'd be able to use the production as a bargaining chip for a film he'd already been offered, "Someone Like You" starring Ashley Judd. "No one knew 'X-Men' yet," Jackman said. "I was a nobody." Obviously, that "nobody" status is a thing of the past.

Jackman bombed his audition

Jackman had a storied career on stage at the time of his audition but hadn't yet had his breakthrough role. It's hard to believe, but Jackman had only appeared in two indie films and a handful of TV episodes before becoming Wolverine in "X-Men." When Jackman showed up to audition for "Miss Congeniality," he was stunned to see Sandra Bullock there, ready to read as his scene partner. As he tells it, she blew him away, and he was woefully unprepared. "Holy s***! She's amazing and so quick and fast," Jackman recalled. "I was pedaling as fast as I could, but I didn't know the script well enough." Jackman said it was the first time he had ever tested with another actor, and was "impressed" that Bullock was there in the first place. "I didn't expect her to be in there," he said.

Ultimately, Jackman couldn't keep up with Bullock and she acted circles around him in the audition room, with the role rightfully going to Bratt. He said he found the loss of the role tough even though he didn't want it in the first place, because it meant he was disappointing his agent. "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. Fortunately, he had already wrapped filming on "X-Men" at the time of his audition, and the film was released the same year as "Miss Congeniality." I think it's safe to say he recovered from the humiliation just fine.