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X3: Hugh Jackman on the evolution of Wolverine

By Chris Brown     May 18, 2006

Comics2Film's thechrisbrown had a chance to visit the 'X-Men: The Last Stand' press roundtables in NY this past weekend and sit down with Hugh Jackman to talk, and not talk about the Wolverine prequel, Batman rumors, and, of course, all things X-Men 3. It is mostly spoiler-free, unlike the discussion with Patrick Stewart, but there is a warning before a major plot point is discussed.

HJ: So you guys all saw the movie right?

Q: Yes

HJ: Alright, just checking.

Q: When did you see it?

HJ: I haven't seen the finished, finished, I saw it probably a month ago, so what I've seen is essentially the same thing but there were many effects coming in so ...

Q: Did you know about the little tag they put in at the end about...Well I don't want to spoil it but...

HJ: I've heard, yea, everyone stayed for the credits?

Q: yes.

HJ: I heard about it and I said Brett, no one sits through credits.

Q: They said we had to, they locked the doors.

Q: So how do you feel about this stage in Wolverine's evolution as a member of the team, is he more comfortable now with the responsibility?

HJ: Yes, the second part, becoming part of a team is pretty much a given at the front. I said to the guys, like after the first script I got, he had a room at the mansion, I said, I just can never see him having a room there, it may have happened in the comic book but, I'm like, I think that' always going to be a bridge too far for him to cross. But, it's a given that he's part of the team, so this movie is really about what role does he take. And as you know there is a huge shake up, you know, in the team fairly early on so will he step up or won't he? Because he is essentially a loner and essentially if something needs to be done he just does it himself and doesn't feel comfortable relying on anybody else.

Q: There's been talk about the Wolverine prequel. How soon is that gonna get going or do you think there will be an X-Men 4 before that?

HJ: No I don't think there will be an X-Men 4, we have a second draft in from David Danioff, who is an amazing writer and a huge fan, and I'm very excited about it. I would say Wolverine is going to be next, as for when that happens, I don't know. It's looking very exciting.

Q: Are we going to see familiar villains from the X-Men Universe or are we just gonna ..?

HJ: Too early to say, too early to say, it's even a little ...no ... it's fair to say it's probably going to be a prequel, but it's too early to say exactly who will be in it ... basically I wouldn't tell you in other words (laughing) but I thought it would be nice to say it's too early. (smiling).

Q: So where would you like to see, if they stick with the X-Men franchise, where would you like to see the character of Wolverine go next, in terms of the future?

HJ: I don't know, I haven't thought of it, I think at the end, it's pretty enormous what happens in this movie it's very unsure, even though there's this, I think a fairly good place in terms of the world where humans and mutants stand it's pretty unsure of what is going to happen next.

SPOILER WARNING: The next segment reveals significant plot details and has been "whited out" for your protection. If you wish to read this passage, please swipe the text with your mouse cursor to make it visibile.

Q: The fact that he basically kills the woman he loves for the greater good, what do you think, just for the sake of speculation how do you think he would progress from that point on?

HJ: Well it's the ultimate heroic act. What he has done, it's really one of the themes of this movie, how far would you go for the woman you love or the person you love? And it's a complicated love, as you know, it's unrequited and even in this ... so it's really, I love that about the film, I think at the end of this he's going to be as tortured and conflicted internally as he has ever been. Even though he has, kind of, heroically continually crossed that line of doing the greater good. So personally, I don't know, a lot of therapy I guess. It would be like Tony Soprano's version. (laughing)

END SPOILER

Q: Can you talk about the difference between Bryan's and Brett's styles?

HJ: Bryan, I think, both are great filmmakers, Brett has done an amazing job for this film. I think he's put his mark on it. It's a more emotional film. He's a very visceral, passionate guy, you know exactly what he is thinking at all times, he can't hold stuff in. He's a very happy guy, he loves what he does and I feel that comes across. Emotional as this movie is, there is still a sense of fun about it and there's some good laughs, and I think people are going to watch this movie and even fans, will be a bit shocked and even a bit angry at some of the turns of events are still going to have a good, fun time. Bryan is quite cerebral, very intelligent, a great filmmaker with a great eye and, ultimately, what Brett did smartly was he didn't try and reinvent the wheel. I don't think someone who's not really (inaudible) with movies will hugely be able to tell the difference in terms of style, I don't think he tried to reinvent it as I said but I think he's managed to kind of elevate emotionally, the characters.

Q: There was talk, there was a rumor going around, that when you visited the Superman set, that you filmed a cameo. Is that true?

HJ: No. I went out to dinner with Bryan, in fact I heard it many times for the last month. It's really not true.

Q: Was X-Men 3 a happier set, there were stories on X-Men 2, there were reports that Halle and Bryan Singer had clashes.

HJ: Well I'll speak from my point of view because that's all I can, and I've loved making all three. Bryan is a different director than Brett. Bryan is intense at times and he's a friend and I loved working with him so I can't speak for the others but my perspective was that we were a pretty close-knit family. Before, when we were all meeting and there's no sense of this is Hollywood and (uncomfortable) "Hi, how you doin'," trust me, everyone is very friendly and no one had to do the third one and we all came on board. I thought the script was the strongest of the three. For me I had a blast. Brett has a very different style to Bryan, and Brett's on three cell phones at once during a take and you have to say, Brett, we can hear you from here mate! (laughing) You know. But it's all, both of them kind of love what they do, both of them are very intense and passionate so there's always gonna be a little bit of this.

Q: Has Bryan called you up said, 'Hey we got the Logan's Run movie moving forward and we want to see you somewhere in Logan's Run?'

HJ: Well I hear it's, the age cut off is 23, that's going to be a stretch.

Q: Well you could be the old man.

HJ: I could, but the answer is no, no calls yet (laughing).

Q: You're pretty busy, finished doing The Prestige, can you talk about that?

HJ: The Prestige, I'm very excited about, is a movie Chris Nolan directed with Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Scarlett Johanson and Bowie. How awesome is that working with him. The movie is extraordinary, it was an amazing script, I can't wait to see it and I loved working with Chris.

Q: There were rumors that you'd like a role in the next Batman film that Christopher Nolan is doing, anything going on with that or is that just more fanboy stuff?

HJ: It's just more fanboy stuff, you know there was a lot of joking around on set, I mean there was Christian and I, there was one scene in the movie, I don't want to tell any details, Chris hates any kind of, there's a scene where if we were both superheroes we would have leapt in and done something but and both of us are standing there doing absolutely nothing. We were kind of laughing, here you've got Wolverine and Batman kind of twiddling their thumbs, there this potentially very heroic situation and we're like (whistling) and we joked a little bit but I mean I'll be honest with you if Chris rang me to do something I'd do it, that's not a, I'm not laying down a 'I want to be in this movie or that movie,' but he's an amazing director.

Q: Did you and Bale talk about your respective experiences being part of these huge things?

HJ: Absolutely

Q: Were you both like, 'How did we end up with these iconic mantles that we have to...'

HJ: Well I really respected that movie and I really respected what Christian did and I thought that man was similar to what we were trying to do with X-Men in making these characters believable and understanding them so as fantastical as they are you can kind of relate to them. We talked a little bit about that, you know actors talk things like, "what did ya get in the deal?" A little more that than philosophy generally (laughing).

Q: Are there any interesting outtakes and do you still have the same muscles?

HJ: The second answer is no (laughing).

Q: Did you have to do a lot ...

HJ: Yeah, I am probably 15 or 20 pounds bigger than I am now, this is how I am naturally, I work out every day. I eat a ridiculous amount of food probably 4000 calories a day and I train like a bastard, like we say in Australia. I train every morning for about an hour and a half and hit it pretty hard. And I use it as a time to get into character so I play Godsmack and Metallica, really the angriest full-on music because if anyone's done any weight lifting there's a moment almost in every set, which is similar to that moment when you become berzerker rage or you just start crying. Now, Wolverine always goes into berzerker rage, he never cries, he never has that breaking point, but when you have the heaviest weight possible above you in every set there's that moment, so I crank up the music and I get as angry as I can and, daily, it's like a great warm-up for playing the character. The first answer is there are many funny takes that you will never see, there is a gag reel that I'll tell you is the best gag reel I have ever seen. If you ever get your hands on it you will not stop laughing, but you won't get your hands on it.

Q: Ratner in the suit? As Wolverine?

HJ: Yeah, yeah, yeah, I got a little tap on the shoulder, like action, like a tap, and I was like (laughing) well that's probably, like, the height he [Wolverine] is supposed to be so I just sat out and he walks down and I couldn't see him because I was behind the corridor wall and the next thing I hear is this hysterical laughter from Halle Berry and Brett was fully seriously into it, he'd learned the whole scene and it was a long scene, like 2 pages and he'd learned the whole thing and Halle never stopped laughing from beginning to end. I think he was a little miffed about that, I think he was seriously like, "I was pretty much as good as you...right?" And Halle...anyway... (laughing)

Q: How was adding Kelsey Grammer as a new [character]?

HJ: I love Kelsey, I mean if you saw the pictures you would never recognize him but Kelsey is, I can't imagine anyone else playing the role, physically what he is doing is amazing and I thought the look was amazing but if you ever needed proof of why Kelsey Grammer is the only person who could play it, that moment when his hand goes from blue to his normal color and it cuts to his eyes, to me that is one of the best moments in the film. I think that kind of says everything.

Q: Going to Marvel, it seems like Marvel had more input on 1 and 2 compared to 3, or was it pretty much the same?

HJ: Same input I think. Well the guy who is second, I don't know his official title but Kevin Feige, was working full-time on the movie and now he's working for Marvel, so his influence was great and he's very clever but he was always in there at every script meeting ... every meeting, you mean how the plot differs from the comic book or?

Q: Just overall, was there anything that Marvel kind of objected to?

HJ: I honestly don't know, I hadn't thought that there was a difference in input. I mean there was a new writer and new director so everyone got to be respectful of giving the movie to them making it their movie so by 2, you know 1 and 2 we were in a flow so it was kind of the same team but I can't answer, I can't think of any really huge difference.

Q: This kind of deals with the ambiguity of Xavier's approach, is he kind of doing the right thing, even at the end when the brotherhood finally attacks you can kind of understand the reasoning, was that always part of the development of this story, there was going to be greater ambiguity?

HJ: Yeah, I think X-Men only works in its ambiguity, I don't think it works with pure heroes and pure villains. In every character you can see that, I think there's a case for every character wanting to cure themselves as well. That's what makes it good. I think that, I've read, I don't know if you ever read Nelson Mandella's book, but in his last paragraph, you'd have to say he's probably one of the greatest living human beings and his cause was most just, and at the very end of it he says, "I question whether I did the right thing in my life because I sacrificed risking a father of a nation for being a poor father to my children," because he basically was never there for his kids and he knew that when he went into it. So he's lived with that guilt and doubt of whether he did the right thing, now that's Nelson Mandella, and I think if you don't have that feeling about Xavier that he doesn't wrestle with it, or if you looked at Henry V, he walks around the camp disguised, hearing if he is, and wondering if he is doing the right thing, he's sending people to die no matter how just the cause and I think Xavier knows what's going to happen, he knows what's at stake and you have to feel his weariness. Is clamping Jean down doing the right thing? He's going against nature effectively, you know. That's what I love about the movies.

Q: What was your favorite stunt?

HJ: Flying back through the trees, I got up to like 80 miles an hour going through there. The first three takes are unusable because it's like I am on that new Katsu ride, when I go on those rides I'm like giggling the whole time, those first three takes were just me giggling, I couldn't help it. 80 miles an hour from a standing start, I was at 80 miles an hour in like 4 seconds, so, the stunt guys with me and they are saying alright Hugh, we are going at 60 percent, and I know that means 100 percent they are just saying that for everyone, like take 4 they went to 110 percent.

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