Hugh Jackman got on the phone Monday to talk to our Geoff Boucher about his upcoming projects. Here’s what he had to say about his return to the metal-clawed mutant persona that has been the signature role of his Hollywood career.
Geoff Boucher: I remember coming by your office back in the summer of 2009, and you were already talking about your hopes of making a movie out of Marvel’s 1982 “Wolverine” miniseries, the classic by Chris Claremont and Frank Miller. And now you’re doing just that — and with director Darren Aronofsky, of all people. You must be thrilled.
Hugh Jackman: I’m really, really pumped about it. I feel like all the planets are finally aligned to make a great movie. We finally have the character and with this mythology — ever since [the 2000 Bryan Singer film] “X-Men,” when I was kind of hanging around and reading all these comics, because I was cast before I ever read any X-Men comics, so I was trying to get my hands on everything. I remember saying to [producer] Lauren Shuler Donner, “Lauren, I don’t know about you, but I’ve seen this Japanese story, and I think it’s so good. It’s just genius, it’s brilliant.” And we kind of always talked about it from there on. I sort of even wanted to do that in the third X-Men movie at first, but we thought, no, we really need to establish who he is at first, and we did that [with “X-Men Origins: Wolverine“], and now this is sort of the cherry on top, to finally do it and have Darren Aronofsky direct it. I love his gung-ho attitude toward it and great vision. Straight off, it’s not a sequel, it’s a stand-alone, and I think we’re going to make one that people will describe as the best of the bunch.
GB: Well, it better be, right? I mean with that revered source material and the director of “Black Swan” and “The Wrestler” — not to mention a script by Christopher McQuarrie, who wrote “The Usual Suspects” — the expectations are going to be pretty high for this one.
HJ: Right, absolutely, and Chris McQuarrie has done a script that is just phenomenal. I read a story once that said that he wrote “The Usual Suspects” in 15 days, and with this one he said to me, “I just knew what I wanted, and it came out real easy.” And he’s done an unbelievable job with it, and with Darren it’s just really exciting. I’m as excited as anybody to see what we come up with. I know we’re going to be met with huge expectations. The expectations will be high, but he’s one of the great filmmakers out there. I worked with him before [on “The Fountain“], and I knew as soon as I met him that he should be doing movies like this. He’s been looking a long time, and I’ve asked him to do other ones, and this time it worked out. I’m beyond thrilled.
GB: Are you going to have to go back to that intense diet, eating whole chickens so you can get that muscle mass back up?
HJ: I’m on it right now, mate, already doing it. It’s 6,000 calories a day, it’s rough.
GB: How much you weighing?
HJ: Right now, I’m at 210.
GB: Wow, so you’re going to be bigger this time? Last time, you looked about, what, 190?
HJ: Yeah, right, I was 190, something like that. I don’t know how much I want to give away about it, but Darren said with the last one, ‘Hey you looked great, but you’re so tall that in those long shots you looked kind of like Clint Eastwood, and that’s not Wolverine.” He said that Wolverine, in the comics, is powerful, stocky, you know, he’s short and thick. So he said, ‘I want you to go there, get bigger.’ He’s going to come down after he gets done with all the black-tie events over and done with.
GB: That’s interesting because in comics, sure, Wolverine is quite short and almost hunched over at times, a sort of feral posture, and he’s bulky up high — he’s like the nasty bulldog of superheroes.
HJ: Yeah, he’s thick and it’s chunky and it’s powerful. I always think of Mike Tyson when he first came on the scene. Sometimes, he was a full foot shorter than his opponents and bent over [with this] massive build. There’s real power. You said bulldog, and that’s it exactly. Exactly. That’s what I’m going for, and if I have a massive heart attack first, well, you tell everyone what I was going for.
GB: Well, if you die that’s not really an issue, they can just use CG these days.
HJ: That’s right, just take the four movies and the Oscars hosting and mix them together and they should have enough.
— Geoff Boucher
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