Jackman keeps claws on top role

By Keeley Bolger

Actor loves the bad-ass Wolverine character he’s played for over a decade but he never takes it for granted.

Hugh Jackman is still brimming with enthusiasm for his impressively sideburned alter ego. Photo / AP
Hugh Jackman is still brimming with enthusiasm for his impressively sideburned alter ego. Photo / AP

After 14 years in the role, Hugh Jackman practically is Wolverine.

After playing the claw-wielding superhero seven times on the big screen, it's no surprise that the Australian actor has become something of an X-Men oracle on set.

But, as the actor points out, being your colleagues go-to man for all things X-Men can be a little trying, even if the colleagues in question happen to be acting legends.

"It's kind of annoying, because Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart constantly come up and have to ask me things," says the 45-year-old, laughing.

"Not just about X-Men but about acting tips and stuff like that. It sort of gets old after a while," he adds with a mischievous smile.

Jackman is joking, of course, but you can imagine that if anyone was in need of a refresher on the film franchise, he'd be a safe bet to approach.

He's a very familiar face among the cast, having worked on the series, based on the popular Marvel comics, for the last 14 years.

For the latest film, X-Men: Days Of Future Past, which sees Wolverine and fellow characters from the original trilogy sent back in time to reunite with their younger selves in a bid to change history, he'll be reunited with Jennifer Lawrence, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender and Nicholas Hoult, his co-stars from X-Men: First Class, as well as Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen and Halle Berry.

Despite having played Wolverine for almost a decade and a half, Jackman, who started his career in musical theatre, is still brimming with enthusiasm for his impressively sideburned alter ego.

"If you go to the comic books, there's a lot of very strong character points about Wolverine," he explains.

"He's the loner. That tough, bad ass, cool guy who does what he wants and doesn't follow anyone else's lead. Hes a good guy, but not a nice guy. Those are some of the things that I love about him.

"Each person who takes him on gives him slightly different colour, and hopefully over the 14 years, I've given him different colours."

By the sounds of it, Jackman's Wolverine journey isn't over yet, either.

"I haven't officially signed on to anything else," says the Sydney-born actor who, pre-Hollywood, actually considered a career in journalism.

"But I am also part of the process of developing another Wolverine movie and also X-Men: Apocalypse, which is the follow-up to this movie. I don't know what role I'll play in that.

"If I was a betting man, I'd say this X-Men is not the last [for me], but there has to be a very compelling reason for me to do it," he adds. "I love the character. I love the series. [But] I would never take it for granted or do it for the hell of it.

"I have to feel like I really have something to offer and were going to take Wolverine on a slightly different journey," he says.

"Otherwise it'll be time to hand over the claws to someone else, and I'm sure there will be many lining up to do it."

Father-of-two Jackman, who trained at Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts and has been married to fellow Australian Deborra-Lee Furness for 18 years, has added other credits to his CV in recent years.

Baz Luhrmann's 2008 movie Australia, alongside fellow Aussie Nicole Kidman, and 2012's Hollywood adaptation of long-running musical Les Miserables spring to mind.

Jackman starred as Les Mis protagonist Jean Valjean and his performance earned rave reviews, as well as a Best Actor nod at the Oscars.

"Although Daniel Day-Lewis took home the trophy for his role in Lincoln, being nominated was one of the great honours of my life," he notes.

"Among Hollywood, to win an Oscar is, of course, amazing. But to be nominated - it sounds like a cliche - but within the business, I can tell you that's a mark of honour," Jackman reflects.

"I don't ever expect it [award nominations], and I don't think anyone ever should or could," adds the brawny actor, who hosted the 81st Academy Awards in 2009.

"I certainly wouldn't turn it [an Oscar] down if it came my way, but at the same time, I remember being scared playing that role [Les Miserables], and the last thing on my mind was, 'Oh, I hope I win an Oscar'.

"As an actor, I was just hoping I didn't fall flat on my face, you know?" he continues, smiling.

"The nomination was something I will never forget, and if you're ever going to be in a group where Daniel Day-Lewis is the winner, I mean, I don't think I could pick anyone more fitting, he's a huge inspiration and hero for me."

The Lincoln star isn't the only fellow actor who's inspired Jackman along the way.

"I saw Sir John Mills on stage, aged 90, doing a kind of one-man-show retrospective. I always remember seeing that and thinking Id love to still be able to do that when I'm 90. First of all, lets see if I get to 90. I'm halfway there!"

Movie profile
Who: Hugh Jackman, back yet again as Wolverine.
What: X-Men: Days of Future Past.
When: Opens at cinemas on Thursday

-AAP

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