Credit: Michael Muller

When Black Swan director Darren Aronofsky backed out of The Wolverine a little over a week ago, it left the promising comic book drama in the lurch.

Part of the anticipation for the film, in which Hugh Jackman’s X-Men character ventures to Japan and encounters a legion of samurai warriors, was having the provocative tendencies of Aronofsky channeled into a commercial action-adventure movie. Jackman himself has been bulking up, gorging on protein and working out to build muscle, in anticipation of the project’s start. Then Aronofsky said he could no longer commit to the project because the Japan shoot would interfere too much with his personal life.

Jackman says he’s not quitting now.

The actor was in Las Vegas for CinemaCon, the annual convention for theater owners, to reveal the first scenes of his upcoming robot-boxing drama Real Steel. (More on that film in an upcoming Inside Movies post.) After the presentation, he told EW that The Wolverine remains very much alive — he’s staying on board, and the script by The Usual Suspects screenwriter Christopher McQuarrie is still in play.

“So now we’re out looking for a director,” Jackman shrugged. “We were pretty much ready to go. The script is fantastic — the best we’ve ever had, which is why it attracted Darren in the first place. His personal situation precludes him from doing it now, and I feel for him. But now we need to find a director.”

Jackman wouldn’t cite any preference, but said the team is aiming for another prestige filmmaker, not just someone to yell “action” and “cut.”

“We’re not going to settle. We’re going to find a director as good as Darren, if not better. Well, as good,” Jackman said. “Everyone is still pushing forward to getting it done.”

The actor did acknowledge a little impatience, especially since he’s growing weary of his protein-powered, muscle-building diet. “I can’t be eating too many more chicken breasts,” he groaned.

Follow Anthony Breznican on Twitter (@Breznican) for more movie news, including updates from Hollywood’s many CinemaCon previews this week.

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