Don McAlpine: X-Men Origins Wolverine was a political minefield

12 February, 2013 by Brendan Swift

Cinematographer Don McAlpine says production on X-Men Origins: Wolverine became a “political minefield” between director Gavin Hood and 20th Century Fox.

Wolverine was plagued by rumours of problems, centred on disagreements between Hood and studio boss Tom Rothman, during its Sydney-based shoot in 2008. An unfinished print of the Hugh Jackman-vehicle was also leaked although the official Wolverine theatrical release went on to gross a respectable $US370 million worldwide.


McAlpine, who recently finished his second feature with Hood, sci-fi drama Ender’s Game, said he first formed a tight friendship with the South African director on the set of Wolverine.

“And I think basically one of my main functions on that film was to help Gavin through the political minefield that he’d found himself in the midst of,” he told AC Magazine (Issue #56 December 2012). “You know, a first-time director at any of the major studios is just considered ‘game’ [laughs].”

“And so we had an endless struggle to try and make the film that he wanted. I mean they actually asked him to do this Wolverine as more of an adult drama. And of course, after the first week, they realised they didn’t want that, and they wanted it to be just the classic kiddies’ action movie. So, to still make a presentable movie and stay employed by the studios was quite an interesting battle.”

Hood addressed some of the rumours just before the film’s release, telling The Wrap that, at times, he “wanted to make perhaps a more earthy movie than Tom was expecting” although the two were able to compromise.

A sequel, The Wolverine, was directed by James Mangold and recently wrapped its shoot in Sydney.   

X-Men Origins: Wolverine features in a new documentary about McAlpine, Show Me The Magic – The Adventures of Don McAlpine ASC, along with his last Australian film, Mental.

In 2009, McAlpine received the American Society of Cinematographers' International Cinematographer of the Year Award and in 2012 the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts highest honour, the Raymond Longford Award.

Show Me The Magic's Sydney premiere will be held at the Chauvel Cinema, Paddington, on Wednesday February 13, at 6:30pm. For more information, and other screening times, visit or

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