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March 30, 2011

Hugh Jackman on ‘Wolverine’ director search: ‘We won’t settle’

Posted in: Movies

John Horn checks in from CinemaCon in Las Vegas …

Hugh Jackman as Wolverine. (20th Century Fox)

Hugh Jackman won’t be playing Wolverine as soon as he wanted, so he’s breaking into song while he looks for a new director.

Darren Aronofsky, who was scheduled to direct Jackman this summer in 20th Century Fox’s The Wolverine,” backed out of the project this month. “He would have made a great film,” Jackman said in an interview Tuesday in Las Vegas, where he was promoting “Real Steel” at the annual  theater owners gathering called CinemaCon. “But it wasn’t the right time for him personally.”

Jackman said the start of photography should only be delayed a matter of weeks. But the film also could need to change its production location, as it was originally set to be shot in Japan, which is still recovering from its catastrophic earthquake. “That’s in limbo as well,” Jackman said of shooting there. “Who knows what the situation is on the ground?”  All of it adds up to a crushing setback for Jackman, who in February was telling fans that “the planets were finally aligned” to make a great film about the most famous Marvel Comics character created in the last 40 years.

With the launch of production pushed back — “All we need to do is find a new director, but we won’t settle for anyone who isn’t as good as Darren,” Jackman said — the Australian actor has backed off his intense physical training for the film just a bit while he exercises another muscle: his vocal cords. He will star in a one-man show at San Francisco’s Curran Theatre May 3-15. “I’ve wanted to do it for a long time,” said Jackman, who is no stranger to singing and dancing, having performed in the Broadway productions of “The Boy From Oz” and “Oklahoma!

In Oct. 7’s “Real Steel,” directed by “A Night at the Museum” filmmaker Shawn Levy, Jackman plays a man looking for salvation. Set nine years in the future, the film centers on the phenomenon of robot boxing, in which 9-foot-tall mechanized beasts are pitted against each other as if “Transformers” were crossed with ultimate fighting. Jackman plays a single dad who might get a second chance in life and with his son if a rusty old robot named Atom can be turned into a champion.

“We wanted to make a movie with machines that is actually humane and human,” Levy said. “The characters are castoffs, and they get a chance for redemption.” Jackman said he was drawn to the film’s blend of “action and naturalism,” but there might have been one other appeal: “I never had to take my shirt off.”

– John Horn

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