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Aussie Jackman jumps into Singer’s ‘X-Men’ pic

Thesp to play Wolverine

Twentieth Century Fox has tapped Australian thesp Hugh Jackman to fill the razor claws of Wolverine in the Bryan Singer-helmed Marvel Comics actioner “X-Men.”

Jackman, who recently toplined Trevor Nunn’s London revival of “Oklahoma!” (for which he received an Olivier Award nomination for his role as Curly), takes over the role formerly held by Dougray Scott.

Fox was forced to replace Scott when it became apparent last week that he wouldn’t be able to extricate himself from Paramount’s “Mission: Impossible 2” in time to don his tights as Wolverine.

Impossible ‘Mission’

Even though “X-Men” had begun production late last month, Fox was holding out hope until the last minute that Par would be able to give a stop date for Scott on “Mission” so he could join the cast in Toronto this week.

In the whirlwind casting change, Jackman’s deal was finalized late last week so he could be fitted for his claws over the weekend. He will begin rehearsals and action choreography today.

20th prexy Tom Rothman and exec VP Peter Rice are overseeing the production for the studio. Lauren Shuler Donner is producing with Ralph Winter.

Up-and-comer Down Under

For Jackman, Wolverine is a high-profile, potential breakout role for the up-and-coming thesp whose film credits include the Aussie indie pics “Erskineville Kings” and “Paperback Hero.” Although virtually unknown in the U.S., Jackman was named Australian star of 1999 at this year’s Australian Movie Convention, the annual confab for distributors, exhibitors and service companies. His other credits include Oz television shows “Corelli” and “Halifax f.p.” as well as lead roles in legit productions of “Walt Disney’s Beauty and the Beast” and “Sunset Boulevard.”

Jackman joins an ensemble cast that includes Ian McKellan (Magneto) and Patrick Stewart (Professor X).

Jackman is repped in the States by Creative Artists Agency.

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