Hugh Jackman

Hugh Jackman was born on 12 October 1968 in Sydney, Australia. He has a Communications degree with a journalism major from the University of Technology Sydney. After graduating, he pursued drama at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts, after which he was offered a starring role in the ABC TV prison drama Correlli (1995), opposite his future wife Deborra-Lee Furness. Several TV guest roles followed. An accomplished singer, Jackman has starred as Gaston in the Australian production of Beauty and the Beast and as Joe Gillis in the Australian production of Sunset Boulevard. In 1998, he was cast as Curly in the Royal National Theatre's production of Trevor Nunn's Oklahoma. The second movie Jackman starred in, Erskineville Kings (1999), earned him an Australian Film Institute nomination for Best Actor in 1999. But it was his role of Logan/Wolverine in the Bryan Singer-directed comic book movie X-Men (2000) that propelled him to wider fame. We caught up with Jackman as X-Men: The Last Stand was due to open in UK cinemas...

ReviewGraveyard: Are you pleased with how X-Men: The Last Stand turned out?

Hugh Jackman: I think it's great. I'd been involved with the script for 18 months and I knew the character and I figured it was going to be a relatively easy shoot and it actually proved to be that. I mean, these movies are wall-to-wall characters so you are not wall-to-wall every day. You go through periods but you get a little bit of time off.

RG: Was it a problem getting the cast back together again?

HJ: It wasn't a problem. It was a problem getting Bryan Singer but he fell out and that was a bit of a pothole and we had Matthew [Vaughn] for a while. And looking back now there were so many times when this movie could have gone disastrously wrong in terms of the process of getting it made. But when they came up with the story idea of this cure [for the mutants] I immediately thought that was brilliant because it cuts into everything that X-Men is about.

The question is, if you had the opportunity to get rid of it, would you do it? This movie is all about yes they are superheroes, but all of them are haunted by it. And the ramifications and the themes, you know. If you were gay and you had the opportunity not to be, or if you were Jewish or any minority or anything that is discriminated against, would you take it? And there's not a person who wouldn't think twice about it no matter how strident they were and ultimately that's the message. It's obviously "no, be yourself, whatever that is." But it makes for a fascinating story and I thought that idea was brilliant.

And the cast all came back - which was great. I think they all realised that the script was the best of the three.

RG: Did you enjoy working with Matthew Vaughn, albeit, briefly?

HJ: With Matthew I only have good things to say about him. He came on board and the script was strong and he had some unbelievably good ideas. I think he has a great contemporary eye and he made it a little edgier and several of the things he put in are still in the script. I hope he gets a credit of some kinds or a special thanks because he developed the script to being 'this is ready to shoot and this is the best of the three.' and when I met with Brett he looked at the script and said 'the first thing I have to say is that, I have to thank Matthew because this film has been developed brilliantly.' He had a few changes himself, of course.

One actually, was a big change, where the whole third act ends up happening in San Francisco and that was a part of act two, and that did change things a lot. And he had several other character ideas that he developed himself. But he inherited the strongest of the three [scripts]. Matthew fell out like three months before we started shooting and the list of directors who could do it, even with more than three months, is not that long. If you have met Brett he is fearless - he is the most positive, fearless, confident guy and he is in his element on those big sets and this is a big show.

RG: He was coming into an established team. Do you think that was hard for him?

HJ: Brett made me immediately comfortable because he came in and said: "OK, here's what I like about the films." And he listed all the things that were the best parts of the films and he said: "I'm not going to change any of them. What's the point? The cast - great." He made it clear he wasn't going to reinvent the wheel but at the same time he has some of his own ideas, which were great, and he just added to the whole thing.

I mean, this movie is the end of a trilogy and there were certain things that had to be resolved and Brett knew that and he wanted to work within that framework. And he said to me: "The thing I feel could be better with X-Men is the emotions. I still don't feel that people watch those movies and they cry at the end. I want that to happen. I want them to laugh, I want it to be sexy, but I want it to be affecting." And it's a character piece and he was absolutely right.

It's the final piece of the puzzle and it needed to be that and Brett is passion - he's a heart guy, it's all from here. Bryan is a brilliant filmmaker and I would say he is more cerebral.

RG: Why did Bryan drop out. Presumably X-Men clashed with Superman?

HJ: Yes. I was never angry with Bryan. I knew he had a passion for Superman from way back. I'll give you an example, in the first X-Men movie I'm at the top of the Statue of Liberty. Rogue has been drained of life and Wolverine picks her up and Bryan's talking to me through the megaphone. And he goes: "Oh, it's just like when Christopher Reeve rips off the door from Lois Lane when she is falling and he pulls her out of the car and screams to the heavens. It's like that moment..."

I said: "Bryan, mate, I haven't seen that movie since I was 12. I don't know what you are talking about." And it's like "Well, let's go and watch it..." We watched it in his trailer. And he said: "I watch this movie 20 times a year. I know every frame..." So I think the chance to direct that was like a childhood dream.

RG: Did you enjoy being reunited with the regulars?

HJ: Oh yeah. We were filming and I remember saying to Patrick after a scene: "That's the best work we've done together." And it was all down to the writing, just fantastic. We had great scenes with things in our character's relationship that had never been explored before. And likewise with Halle, best stuff we have ever done and a scene with Anna Paquin, who plays Rogue, we did this fantastic stuff which kind of rounds out that relationship.

RG: Do you have any of that Wolverine rage in you?

HJ: I'm the youngest of five kids. My oldest brother Ralph drove me nuts [laughs]. I don't mind saying this publicly, but there were times when I thought: "OK, I think I'm going to have to kill him, because if I just knock him out he'll wake up and kill me..." I remember the rage at times. And he was stronger than me. Up until about the age of 11, unbelievable rage and I used to take it out on the sports field, you know, playing rugby. I used to play a lot of rugby and I would get in trouble a lot.

My hero was Jean Pierre Rives [French international rugby player], and if you remember all of those images of him with blood pouring down his face and running like a terrier, that was me! [laughs]. And then you kind of grow up and become civilised and then you get a role like this and you think: "It's all still there!"

RG: Do you do anything to put yourself in that Wolverine kind of mood?

HJ: Yeah, I do. When I do the films I work out to music that I never really listen to at any other time - like Godsmack and Metallica. I start the day at 5am with this driving, angry music while I'm working out and it really helps me. And funnily enough, if I work out and I do it like I'm in character, I can lift 50 per cent more than I can if I'm not. It's interesting, as me I'm like: "Ahh, it's too heavy..." And I'll be whinging and whining and complaining. And I kind of just go: "Come on, just think of Wolverine..." and I do and it's there, instantly.

RG: Do you ever listen to that kind of heavy metal music outside of preparing for Wolverine?

HJ: No, never. My wife hates that music. But for me, it's like therapy (laughs)

RG: How important has Wolverine been to your career?

HJ: I love this character and I'm proud of that role and it is without doubt the foundation of my career. Many doors opened for me as a result of playing him. I love playing him so much that I want to do another movie. Another journalist said to me: "But aren't you worried about being typecast?" And I never think of it like that. I just love playing this character and I love playing him. I think he is a great screen hero.

I watched those movies and think: "He's a cool guy!" And when I do it's a little bit out of body because I go: "That is so not me." It is, obviously, but sometimes I can't remember how I did it. But it's so much fun to play and I love the cast I'm working with.

RG: So you're looking forward to doing a Wolverine movie?

HJ: Yes. I think he is an interesting enough character and mysterious enough that there's a lot still to be found out about him. And we're going for it; we're up to the second draft [of the script] now. We're coming up with some great stuff and I'm really excited about it.

RG: Presumably it gives you the chance to explore Wolverine's background as Logan?

HJ: Yes, because the X-Men are about the X-Men, understandably. And I've been very lucky because it's a great role and it's wonderful to be part of that ensemble - but it is an ensemble, as it should be. It works very well in that and there is something in those movies for everyone to relate to. But I always thought that there's so much about his past, about who he really is and what makes him tick. We're not sure exactly what we'll do yet, but it will probably be a prequel to the X-Men movies, because that is still the most mysterious part of him, the creation of that character and that is the most exciting thing.

RG: Thank you for your time.

With thanks to Emma Carter at New Media Maze

X-Men: The Last Stand is released in UK cinemas from 25 May 2006.

Click here to view the trailer

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