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JACKMAN, HUGH: SOMEONE LIKE YOU

SEXY GARBO
He’s called one the sexiest men alive (as per the magazine photo shoots) but Hugh Jackman still takes out the garbage, he tells Jenny Cooney Carrillo, even after co-starring with Ashley Judd, Meg Ryan and John Travolta.

Starring as Wolverine in the 2000 blockbuster hit The X-Men, Jackman was catapulted to immediate stardom and followed up this hugely successful film in the romantic comedy Someone Like You, with Ashley Judd, and Swordfish, in which he stars opposite John Travolta. Next, we’ll see him with Meg Ryan in Kate and Leopold.

What was your first impression of the script for Swordfish?
Funnily enough, I met with the producers at LAX on my way to New York when they were in the middle of scouting. They ran up to the first-class lounge and we sat down and talked about it. I hadn’t read it yet so they handed me the script to read on the plane. I went on the plane, opened it up, and the first three pages included one of the best monologues I have seen in a long time for John Travolta’s character. I turned to my wife and said “I’m doing it” and she said, “but you’re on page three!” And I said “Even if it goes to (expletive) from here, it’s brilliant!” And it didn’t - it just got better so saying yes was a no brainer for me.

Tell us about the character you play in Swordfish.
Well, it is more than just an action movie. It’s kind of an espionage/thriller/suspense/action movie all thrown into one, with the plot revolving around a big heist of money to the tune of ten billion dollars. The plan is to go in through the phone lines via computer and farm it out into a whole lot of very intricate areas which is where my character comes in. I am the best computer hacker in the world so they call me in to do the job. My character, Stan, is very reluctant but he has to get into it because of his personal situation.

He sounds like another dark character with a past, like Wolverine.
No claws and no facial hair! I substitute it for an earring this time but he’s definitely in the reluctant kind of genre of character, so there we go. It’s a lot of fun, though, and this character doesn’t have to arch his eyebrows a lot which is good.

Speaking of which, are you arching the eyebrows again in the future?
I think around a year from now we’ll start filming the sequel to X-Men, so it’ll give me a little break. Give my wife a bit of time with a clean-shaven husband. It’s nice kissing my kid, too, without all that facial hair. But I am really looking forward to starting the next one. I can admit to you now, though I probably wouldn’t have admitted it a year ago, that I was really pretty scared with the first X-Men. The first three or four weeks I was in this seventy million dollar picture and I was playing this central character and no one knew who the hell I was! Now I am looking forward to it because we have established a rapport with the fans. The fans loved it, which was a huge relief for everyone involved. The bonus of course was that it was financially successful so the studio is looking forward to it as opposed to being apprehensive about it. The whole cast is coming back and the director is coming back. I couldn’t be happier.

Since The X-Men, you have been working non-stop, starting with Someone Like You.
I really liked the script for Someone Like You, I thought it was a very contemporary, fun and insightful film about male, female relationships. And the role of Eddie was terrific to play after something like The X-Men. I found it very freeing to play someone like Eddie, the kind of guy who can just say whatever is on his mind and get away with it. I think that in a way all of us would love to feel like we could do that.

Were you specifically looking to do a comedy?
I have done comedy before in stage and on film in Australia so it wasn’t as though I was scared of it. I kind of had a healthy respect for it, put it that way. Working with people like director Tony Goldwyn who, as an actor, has got a lot of experience and is a natural comedian and people like Greg Kinnear, there couldn’t be a funnier guy on the planet - it makes it a lot easier.

Back to your acting days in Australia, you only discovered acting while you were getting your journalism degree in college, right?
I had always done acting as a hobby. Then when I was about twenty-two and I was in my last year of school majoring in journalism, I was doing a show that in the end I was spending a lot more time on than anything else. I became aware of this and thought it was crazy. From that moment I thought I would try acting for a year. A year became four years, and now it has become ten.

Someone Like You explores the dating habits of men and women. What did you learn while you were single and how did your wife stand out?
I was always a very curious single man. If I think back to the people I dated or went out with, not one was like the other. I was not one of those guys that went for the same type of woman all the time. And I never understood why, when a guy is going to get together with a woman, why they would want the woman to come back to their place! I always think what a waste when you could go back to her place, see inside her home, see how she does things. Coming back to your own place seems kind of boring to me, especially when you’re living with four other guys in a silly little place in Chippendale. When I met my wife, I just felt I could be myself completely. When you really meet someone that brings out the best in you it is a really joyous thing.

What made you decide to actually get married and how did that change things?
Things do change when you get married. I remember the day I proposed, it’s a huge leap of faith. No matter how much I thought I knew a hundred percent, you never really know until the moment you ask. When I asked, Deb said something and I just felt a complete sense of relief and joy. It was the best feeling in the world. From that moment on I felt like I had gotten all that dating crap out of the way and we could get on with our lives. Now that I’ve found my partner it doesn’t mean that life is over. There are plenty of ups and downs but you just get to share them with someone. Or as Deb says, it’s a permanent sleep-over!

And when did you decide to become parents?
It’s a natural thing. The moment you fall in love with someone you kind of want to have a kid with them. That was my experience. You are never really ready to have a kid. You are never going to be wise enough. You are never going to have enough energy. You are never ready until you find someone to do it with, that’s my opinion. There are plenty of people that do it on their own and I think they do an amazing job. But it was just one of those natural things. We adopted our son and I can’t think of anything better than to share parenting with my wife.

What can you tell us about your next film, Kate and Leopold, with Meg Ryan?
In this film I play a noble man in the nineteenth century who time travels to modern-day New York and has a relationship with a thoroughly modern woman. I spent some time in England with some etiquette coaches and dialect coaches and the hardest thing to perfect is that sense of poise, that sense of being present and intelligent, yet relaxed. In that period people practiced looking like everything was effortless in order to make the person you were with more relaxed and comfortable. When people spoke, you truly listened. When someone enters a room you stand, not in a patronizing way, and when they sit down you pull a chair out for them so as to make it easier for them to join the group and feel welcomed. I loved getting into what was behind all those customs and rules that have now become mere formalities. What they were really about was taking care of the other person first.

How was it working with Meg Ryan?
Obviously as you know she is a brilliant comedian and a wonderful actor but there could not be a more down to earth person around. One day while we were rehearsing on the sound-stage and there was no one else there, I asked my driver to go and pick up some sushi. Meg came up and said “Sushi, I love sushi - where did you get that from?” I told her I got my driver to go and get it and she said, “You can just go and ask your driver to get your lunch?” She’s one of the biggest movie stars in the world and she’s the most down to earth person you’ll ever meet.

You must pinch yourself working in all these big movies with big stars.
Deb and I often stop and go “Oh my God!” It’s a bit weird when you walk in to do a rehearsal with John Travolta. Your heart skips a beat a little bit because you grow up and he’s a huge idol for you, then you get to meet them, it’s a little odd. While shooting Kate and Leopold, I was sitting watching dailies with one of the other actors and our characters come on at the end of the scene, so we are watching Meg do a scene then all of a sudden we walk on, and we both started laughing as soon as we saw ourselves because it was like one of those CGI moments where you’re watching a Meg Ryan movie and all of a sudden you walk on! I could never have dreamed of all the wonderful things I’ve gotten to do and the people I’ve worked with, so I feel very blessed.

With the world at your feet, how do you keep your feet on the ground?
I have Deb to thank for that. She has me share in all the day-to-day stuff, like changing diapers and helping with chores and I’m thrilled to do it. I just went in for a photo shoot that made Deb and I giggle a lot. It was for the Sexiest Man Alive photo shoot and so I held up the fax and said, “realise who you’re married to here, Deb” and she said, “all right sexy boy, just put the garbage out before you go!”

Published July 12, 2001

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Hugh Jackman at Sydney Press Conference (photo courtesy David Morgan)


Someone Like You - Trailer


See Louise Keller and HUGH JACKMAN talk about his films, life and love...


Swordfish - Trailer


Kate and Leopold - coming in 2002


X-Men - Trailer







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