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Friday April 28th 2017

Interview: Hugh Jackman

Interview: Hugh Jackman

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Known for his role as Wolverine, this real life dad and all around nice guy can also sing and dance like nobody’s business.  We sat down with the 42-year-old actor to talk about his life, his work and his recent sci-fi flick Real Steel.

How are you?

I am great. I love [Toronto]. I have a connection to this town. My first movie, X-Men, was shot here and then last July I brought my one man show here.

I read that you had a toy for your son -- who was in your play – and he was scared of it because it had your voice.

Not quite. It was more frightening than that because he loved the toy. The toy… I didn’t know… the first X-Men movie, I remember some guy coming knocking on my trailer door with a sheet of paper and a microphone and said “Hey, man. Can you just say these phrases? If we make toys, they will say that.” I didn’t have a lawyer so I was like ‘whatever.’ “This kick will take you down… I’m gonna slice you in half.” Next thing you know, the movie comes out and it’s a huge hit and there are these toys with my voice on them and one of them is this soft toy that if you press the bellybutton these voices come out and my son just loved the feel of it. It was almost the size of him, actually. So he would sleep with it every night and from my room I could just randomly hear “I’m gonna slice you in half,” while he is asleep rolling over on it and I thought, ‘subliminally I am completely screwing up my son.’ So it frightened me, not him.

This is a different role for you considering some of the parts you have played before…

No, there’s not much action for me; which is nice.

And I’m told you were brought into this because it is a touching father/son story. How hard was it to bring that into a film about fighting robots?

When I heard the pitch for the movie, I kind of thought that this wasn’t going to be for me. I thought, this is going to be cool but it’s not the particular kind of movie I would line up to see. It’s nice and great to see big special effects but…  then I read it and started feeling for these robots -- just reading it, not seeing it-- cheering for these robots, welling up and I’m really moved by the story. More importantly, when I was growing up, I wasn’t into robots I was into sports; I’m a sports nut -- so all the rocky movies, chariots of fire, all these movies -- and I thought “one day I would like to make a movie like that.”  When I read this I was like, “my god, this is like Rocky for a new generation. This is Rocky meets Transformers. This is one of those get out of your seat, rousing underdog stories that I loved growing up.”  

Charlie seems like a difficult character to play. He’s not particularly likeable for most of the film. Is that a difficult balance for a film like this?

I’m glad you asked that question because it was probably the biggest thing that Shawn and I had to negotiate through the movie and we sort of took it a little further than what was in the script. I was fully expecting to be reshooting -- you know, the studio and everybody sees the dailies. So I thought they would say “it’s good and all but people just hate the character so in the end they are not rooting for him.” But in the end they didn’t.  They said it kind of works and I think the movie in general offers a little more than people expect and I think one of those reasons is that we had to go that extra mile on that. I innately always had a great empathy for Charlie. I think it is clear and is made clear. And Dakota is so good in this movie in that he is just someone who has had too many knockdowns in his life and has lost belief in the world around him so it is just easy not to feel anything and as the movie goes on you see him start to open up.

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