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May 2006
X-MEN: The Last Stand: An Interview with Hugh Jackman

X-MEN: The Last Stand: An Interview with Hugh Jackman
By Wilson Morales
May 22, 2006

Since making his first American appearance with the first X-Men film, Hugh Jackman has become quite the international star. Not only has he dazzled his fans with romantic films such as "Kate and Leopold" and "Someone Like You", but he has done his fair share of sci-fi/ fantasy films like the X-Men films, "Van Helsing" and the upcoming film "The Fountain". Jackman has also found success off-screen as well winning a Tony for his performance as Peter Allen in "The Boy from Oz". As one of the main characters of the X-Men, Jackman's performance as Logan/ Wolverine is what holds the film together. Back again to complete the trilogy in "X-Men: The Last Stand", Jackman spoke to blackfilm.com about his character's growth, his reaction to the change in directors, and his upcoming projects.

How does Wolverine evolve or change in this movie?

Hugh Jackman: He starts the movie and I think it's fair to say that he's part of the team of some kind. I wouldn't say he's a card-carrying X-Man or that he has a permanent suite at the mansion but really in this movie his journey is about more what role he will take. He has to take on more responsibility as you guys know and it goes against his grain. So at the start of the movie he's obviously hurting from the whole thing with Jean and in this movie it goes to another level. I love that subplot. Though it's hard to call it a subplot. It's really how far would he go for the woman he loved. Even though, in his case, it's unrequited love.

If that's so why, when he had his chance with Jean in the laboratory, did he turn her away?

HJ: Because he knows what everyone else knows or senses what everyone else knows; that it's all a little off. Something's wrong here. He loves her. He really loves her though.

What was your reaction when you heard Bryan Singer wouldn't be returning to direct X3?

HJ: I was upset. It was so long before we were shooting the movie and for me at that point, I hadn't committed to the movie. I committed to looking at the script. So I instinctually felt that really regardless of who's directing we have to have a great script. And I thought what we came up with - and, by the way, Matthew Vaughn needs to be credited because he helped to develop that script and he did a great job - in terms of a starting script was the best. And Brett did a great job and smartly didn't try to recreate the wheel. I don't think people who are not very au fait with film will really be able to tell the difference stylistically. And yet Brett's a really emotional guy, a real passionate guy. In some ways Bryan's more cerebral where Brett was a little bit more suited to this script, which was more emotional and, even by the end, more melodramatic. I think it worked but it should be that big because it's the end of the trilogy.

Do you feel any pressure that the Wolverine character has increasingly become the focus of these films?

HJ: I wouldn't call it pressure but I suppose I had increasing as the movie has gone on, a little more say in how the movie and script pans out. I have to share a little more of the responsibility ultimately and I quite like being in that position as an actor. I'm probably more comfortable being in that position than say someone coming in and doing a great character role. I've always felt more comfortable being in the middle of it from the beginning to the end. I like working every day and being there. In this movie there's a whole subplot with Ian McKellan's character that I wasn't in and there was about three weeks where I didn't shoot and it felt really weird. I would visit on set ocassionally and just sort of pop in and I came back to work and felt like, "Alright, I gotta get my legs back here."

Have you gone back to the comics in between the three movies to do any continued research on how to evolve your characterization of Wolverine?

HJ: Oh yes. Of course I'm getting into it at the moment because we're writing, or David Benioff is writing, a movie version of Wolverine, which is gonna be a prequel. It's gonna deal with the origins of him so I'm into it a lot. In this movie actually we were lucky to have [Second Unit Director] Simon Crane who did SAVING PRIVATE RYAN, MR. AND MRS. SMITH and he's amazing. I think a lot of the action pieces are well done and he's phenomenal with what he brought to it. Simon came to me and said, "I've got an idea," and showed me some comic books that had some things we could do stylistically that was a bit different. I always saw Wolverine - like watching old Mike Tyson videos - as a street fighter. Nothing pretty just going for it. Simon said, "If you look in the comic book he has some really cool moves." So we did put a couple of those things into this. That's something that some fans might recognize.

What would you say Brett's greatest strengths as a director are?

HJ: He's passionate about life. He's happy as a guy. He loves what he does. His passion comes out on the film. He's not shy. If you look at all his films, he's not shy with emotion. And I don't think it's ever on the nose either. I don't feel like it's sentimental. I think he's a very passionate and that comes easy to him. So he has good taste, like I'll see film and we shot 30 takes and he picked the best one. He's got good taste ultimately but he's instinctual and passionate. I would say those are his greatest strengths. And great fun by the way.

Is the WOLVERINE movie something that you plan on doing soon?

HJ: We've got two drafts and David is gonna do another draft and then we'll find a director.

Are you involved as a producer on that film?

HJ: Yeah.

Will you be involved in selecting the cast and director for this too?

HJ: Oh yeah.

What about Brett?

HJ: Definitely I'd look at Brett. I'm not gonna make any decisions until we get the script locked. We've got to work out what movie we're gonna make. I don't want, by the way, Wolverine to appear to be X-MEN 4 in disguise. I don't want to make it stylistically the same. I want to do something different. But there's been a lot of interest from some really amazing directors. I'm really excited.

Were you pleased that you and Halle were able to work together more on this film as Wolverine and Storm became closer?

HJ: Well I feel very close to Halle. This is my fourth movie with Halle. I really think she's an amazing person and actress and I'm really proud of what she's achieved. Yes we are closer but we were already close. When you're friends, you're friends. It was great for me to have more to do with Halle and I had been asking for that on the first two. It's a good dynamic as well cause they're both strong characters.

With the younger actors on the set did you ever feel like a mentor to them?

HJ: Well my character gives them a hard time. But am I a mentor? I don't think so. I was very happy for that young guy Kelsey Grammer (laughs)... He's really good. I actually became really good friends with Kelsey. The truth of the matter is that he makes me laugh so there's more footage on the cutting room floor of me laughing cause Kelsey just has a look in his eye that is so wicked. I really loved working with Kelsey. But Ellen Page? I think she's an extraordinary actress. Brilliantly cast. By the way, Brett is brilliant at casting. The little boy that plays Leech? Cameron Bright. He's so brilliant. I didn't actually work with him one day but I saw him on set and he's just perfect for that role. It's quite haunting. I saw him in BIRTH and he was great in that. In this movie you can't get him out of your head. I thought Ben Foster was terrific as Angel. It's a tough role to pull off and I really believed his dilemma. I would've liked for him to have more to do. But Ellen did a good job. And Vinnie...(laughs). Vinnie is so much fun to have around. He was great. He really popped in the film too. He has a few great lines. Dania [Ramirez] was terrific...

As an actor, how has your career evolved since the first X-MEN film?

HJ: I know seem to be on the radar of directors that I really admire. That really means a lot to me. I'm thrilled about that. It happened in a weird way. For example with Darren Aronofsky, I don't think I was really in his radar at all until I saw him in "The Boy From Oz" and THE FOUNTAIN is nothing like Peter Allen. But he saw me on stage and actually that happened quite a bit. So that changed things for me. So I'm very, very happy. After X-MEN came out I made choices where I realized I still had a lot to learn about film coming from the theatre. I didn't want to be put in situation where I was front and center all the time. "This is my film and if it works I'm going up and if it doesn't I'm out." I thought I really wanted to get some more experience so I worked with some great directors like Jim Mangold and Tony Goldwyn and Steve Sommers who's a very assured director as well. I felt like I'm very happy. It hasn't all be planned this way but the loose plan I've had has worked out.

Have you had a chance to actually see THE FOUNTAIN yet?

HJ: No, I haven't seen it yet. Darren [Aronofsky] doesn't want me to see it without an audience and yet he had a screening the other night because he said, "I don't want you to change the atmosphere." So Darren is very protective but an extraordinary director.

When you saw the finished film was there anything about it that surprised you?

HJ: As we were filming it we were all very aware that it was pretty heavy. I saw it and I thought it was a lot of fun. I really enjoyed it. It was a fun moviegoing experience. I think it's satisfying emotionally as well. There's mini-scenes and character plots I had seen on the page that I hadn't been on set for filming. I thought the whole thing with Kitty, Rogue and Bobby worked so well. I loved all the stuff with Patrick Stewart's character and you really got to see the ambiguity of his character early on. His world was a little gray and he was unsure of some of the things he was doing and some people were questioning him. When I think about it, there were many things that I saw on film where I said, "This is great!" I really enjoyed the complexity and it was great fun. Visually it's always a shock and a great thrill. It's one of the great joys of doing a film like this. It's a blast. It's one type of filmmaking that you can watch a film as though you haven't been in it. Because so many elements aren't there as you're filming.

How does THE PRESTIGE, your upcoming film with Christian Bale and director Christopher Nolan, compare to something like X3?

HJ: I think it's a very complete movie but it's style is much smaller and more MEMENTOish than X-MEN or BATMAN.

What's next for you this summer?

HJ: I'm doing "The Boy From Oz" in Australia. Over the summer I'm an arena version of that. It's a cast of 160 and we'll be doing it in an arena for 10,000 people. So I'm gonna have my rock star season.

What show would you come back to Broadway for?

HJ: I'm looking at a few right now but I don't know exactly what that is. But I want to come back.

How about to host the Tony Awards?

HJ: I'm not doing it this year because it's my father's 70th birthday in Australia and it clashes. But hopefully if they have me I'll be back next year.

Do you have a Woody Allen anecdote you can share from working with him on SCOOP?

HJ: Woody is...incredibly personable, fun and easy to work with. He's very relaxed. We were in this stately house and he'd set up a shot in 10 minutes with 15 minutes to light it. And after those 10 minutes you'd hear this noise and think, "Where's that music coming from?" And he'd be out there playing his clarinet. He'd set up the shop and just play his clarinet and then he'd come back and we'd shoot.

What's you're role in that film?

HJ: I play a modern day aristocrat who they have an anonymous tip on is a serial killer. And I'm a very much Hello! magazine bachelor-slash-aspiring politician. So I'm the opposite of a serial killer.

X-MEN: THE LAST STAND opens on May 26th, 2006


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