Despite what you might read in the tabloids there are nice people in Hollywood. And then, there’s Hugh Jackman.
He’s so nice that he actually makes everyone else around him look as though they need anger management classes. For example, during a weekend press conference to discuss his new film, “X-Man Origins: Wolverine,” when reporters virtually ignored Lynn Collins who plays Wolverine’s love interest Kayla Silverfox, the Australian native made it a point to acknowledge her performance.
“Lynn plays a character here and fills a role that was so vital to this movie,” he said. “Anyone who knows acting and knows film structure, you’ll know that what Lynn had to pull off in the film was probably one of the most difficult things to do. She did an amazing job and I was really, really proud of what she did.”
He’s so down to earth that he was actually strolling around the Fox lot by himself greeting the press about an hour before he was scheduled.
And on top of all that, Jackman has a heart as big as his native land and an ego the size of a pin. That was especially evident as he continually gave props to his co-stars and director Gavin Hood (whose film “Tsotsi” won a best foreign film Oscar) or when he talked about the body apparently built by free weights and God.
“This is a little embarrassing but I’m a little more of a wuss in real life — obviously (more) than my character,” Jackman said earnestly. “There’s a moment in your training when you just want to give up. But I used to imagine that I was really Wolverine and somehow my trainer got two or three more reps out of me.”
Seated in a black tent with flatscreen monitors behind him, Jackman, dressed casually in a form-fitting Navy blue polo shirt and matching trousers, was at his most attractive when he was poking fun at himself. Last year’s Sexiest Man Alive has been riding high for the past 12 months. Late last year he starred opposite fellow Aussie Nicole Kidman in the epic drama “Australia.” In February he received rave reviews after hosting the Academy Awards.
And now he’s back as Wolverine — the mutant with the steel claws and gnarly sideburns in the latest installment of the X-Men franchise that hits theaters on Friday. “Wolverine” explores the evolution of a man who appears to be constantly at war with himself, his brother Victor/Sabertooth (Liev Schreiber), his leader William Stryker (Danny Huston) and his Team X comrades, all of whom aren’t willing to let Wolverine/Logan distance himself from his past.
‘Everything was new and fresh’Slipping back into a familiar role can be redundant for some actors, but this was actually the first time Jackman, who is also a producer on the film, was the featured mutant.
“Everything was new and fresh,” said Jackman, dressed casually in a navy blue polo shirt with matching trousers. “It was important to me and Gav to move ahead in a fresh direction. Let’s face it I was going through 100 years of this guy’s life. In a way it was sort of acting the long way around. I have to say I loved it and that it was really, really challenging and I had a great time with these guys and all the others involved. It felt brand new.”
And it is. This time Jackman is working with a fresh crew of mutants including: Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds), John Wraith (will.i.am) and Gambit (Taylor Kitsch). For Black Eyed Peas frontman will.i.am, working with Jackman on his first feature film was especially gratifying.
“He’s the real deal,” said will.i.am. “It was really cool for me — being that this was my first big thing. I could look across the set and see Hugh and he’s like, whatever you need, let me know. He’s gets down like that. This movie is all about his character but Hugh will tell you in a minute that it’s not all about him.”
Being the man, however, did make Jackman a little nervous. “I found myself asking people if they like the movie and just hoping that they did,” he said. “It feels more personal and that’s the difference.”
Despite the fact that an unfinished version of the film was leaked on the Internet weeks ago, it appears that, like Wolverine, nothing can keep Jackman down for long. If the married father of two can continually laugh off the rumors about his sexuality, he can certainly deal with whatever fallout might arise from the “Wolverine” bootleg. At the end of the day he’s just a guy who’s happy to be doing what he does.
Sing. Dance. Act. Laugh. And obsess about the return of Halle Berry to the X-Men franchise. “It took me a little while to get used to Halle Berry not being on set most days — sorry, I jest,” he said with a grin.
And although he might be the reigning People magazine sex god, Jackman feels that he just might be the luckiest man alive, too.
“I have to say being up here with all these guys I feel incredibly lucky,” he said. “To be honest when I was 28 I was at the National Theatre in London doing a production of ‘Oklahoma’ and I was about as far as I had ever dreamed I could go being an actor. Everything since then has been so surreal and there’s really never a day that goes by that I don’t thank my lucky stars.
“The sexy thing, I’ve known that a long time. It’s more of a relief than anything.”
Miki Turner can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.