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INT: Hugh Jackman


Hugh Jackman is a very busy man. He has appeared in six… yep, SIX films this year alone including X-MEN 3: THE LAST STAND and THE PRESTIGE. He also lent his voice talent to the animated films FLUSHED AWAY and HAPPY FEET. In THE FOUNTAIN, he plays a man desperate to hold on to the love of his life, for an eternity (literally). In what may be his strongest performance to date, he faces eternal life and the death of a loved one.

I got to speak to Mr. Jackman… a couple of weeks ago. And now I got to talk to him about the fountain of youth and working with director Darren Aronofsky, when he stopped by the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills . This is one of the nicest guys in Hollywood . He is sincere, funny as hell and an all around cool guy. I’ve got a feeling this guy make actually go somewhere…

Hugh Jackman

You don’t do much press lately Hugh… [Laughing]

I’m very private. [Laughing] I’m trying to keep the mystery.

Haven’t seen you for a couple weeks…

I’ve gotta tell ya man, about a month ago I thought, “If these movies suck, I’ll never work again.” [Laughing]

At least you’ve had a busy year.

It’s been busy, that’s true.

Is it a coincidence they all kind of collide together…?

Coincidence… The Fountain finished we finished in February almost two years ago. And the animated movies I’ve been working on for three years so…

I’m starting to read into the fact that you have better luck with animated loves that don’t seem to die. [Laughter]

I like to think that in my private life it’s all perfect so I can play with it in my work.

I think people are going to see you in this film doing stuff you’ve never done before.


I’m curious as to where did that all come from and how did you get there? I mean some of those scenes are so raw.

Well, yeah they were raw. But we worked a lot on them and I think I had a great relationship with Rachel [Weisz] and with the director [Darren Aronofsky] and he wanted me to be… this is a guy dealing with the death of his wife I mean, it’s pretty full on, you know. And the script was very weighty so I thought finally I had a script which took me emotionally to my limit. And the script was equal to that, you know what I mean? There’s no point in putting it all out there on a script that really doesn’t demand it and this one did.

That’s really what this character is about, in every way, he fights till the end, that conquistador mentality, nothing will stop him. And so ah… I don’t know; it was… there were a couple of scenes in there that were pretty full on and I find it uncomfortable watching them. Well, when you’re in there and you’re doing it and you create an atmosphere, helping Darren create an atmosphere which is very private which is how a film should always be. Then all of a sudden the cameras and people all go away… it’s private. Like tonight I’ll see it at Mann’s Chinese Theatre and I’m sure I’ll be like ehhh [Grimacing].

You’re pretty out there…

Yeah it’s pretty out there. Darren said to me - he was watching the dailies, “Oh, I’ve got this great daily I don’t think I can use.” I said, “What?” and he said, “You’re crying so much that you have snot coming out of your nose and it goes into this bubble.” [Laughing] And I said, “You’re really happy about that?” “Yeah, it’s awesome. It’s never been seen on film before!” [Laughter] “Snot bubbles!” It didn’t make the film luckily.

You could say this is basically a two character movie, basically about you and Rachel…

It’s a love story.

What’s different? Was it more like a play in that sense?

No, because if you think of… almost a third of the movie I’m on my own. For a lot of it, you know, like in the spaceship. It’s very unlike a play, in structure or even in dialogue. It’s not… it’s fairly sparse in dialogue in fact and we repeat a lot of the same scenes. It is, your right, ultimately a two [character]… it’s a love story. It’s very romantic and I think it’s a very romantic movie between these two. And it’s ah… I don’t know, I love it and when I finished filming it I [hoped] when people see it, when they leave the theatre, whoever their with, whether they go home with their wife or partner or kid or dog, whatever it is, whatever matters to them, that they think more about that connection… connecting. Which is a lot of what the films about; we don’t always connect and see the real person.

You know, Darren mentioned that you were the person that said to him that Rachel should be in the movie… that he hadn’t really considered her once that part was being re-cast. What made you suggest her over the other actresses?

She seemed perfect for me. And proved to be, I’d meet her a few times, I’d seen a lot of her work on film, on stage as well and she… I think she could just do anything. I remember at the time, it was before THE CONSTANT GARDENER, I just thought people hadn’t seen all the things she could do yet. She is very much a “heart” based person, she’s very caring.

As you interviewed her, she’s very present and very there. I always saw that part having a lot of weight to it – please don’t transpose that literally, she’s a very [slim] woman [Laughing]. She’s the emotional core of that movie. She’s the heart of that movie. And the movie would not work unless she… which she did pull off, that feeling of being okay with dying. I mean this is not easy stuff to pull off for an actor and I just knew she would do it and I…

We were talking about names for quite awhile, for two or three days we were talking about names and finally I said, “Darren, what about Rachel?” and he kind of said, well I didn’t even wanna go there because we’re together. I didn’t want you to think, Oh, he’s just gonna cast his, you know, I didn’t want the people at the studio to think, oh, you know… this, us two had to have such a connection and closeness on-screen that he didn’t want me to freak out, you know, how am I gonna do that when her boyfriend’s right there… but he said that was fine and I knew that was fine so…

But you actually suggesting it sort of opened the door for him to consider it.

Yeah. I mean, I think in his heart of hearts he’d always thought she’d be right but probably thought, well that’s never gonna fly.

In terms of preparing for the role, in addition to the script Darren had also made this graphic novel version of the story. Did you look at it at all or did you look at it after you played the part?

It wasn’t finished. I’d seen the artwork but the actual book was finished after we finished the film. He told you why he did that book right? If the movie fell over at least I’ll have the novel. And when he was approached – the graphic novel is beautiful, if you look at the graphic novel you can see how the script evolved over the time when Brad Pitt fell out of it, you know, three years it evolved a lot.

You’ve done films that require a lot of physicality, this is really significant… great emotional moments. When you go through the day working on physical and emotional moments, does one drain you more than the other?

Oh, by the way, this was probably the most physical role I’ve ever done. I know it probably looks easy but I don’t know if you’d tried to get into the lotus position [Laughing]… And tai chi, I did tai chi for a year in order to pull off what is ultimately about ten seconds of film. And the last three days of shooting I was in the lotus position, twenty feet under water, locked into this bar, I was underwater for eight hours a day.

And the lotus position took me fourteen months to get. I did an hour and a half a day of yoga to be able to get there without… cause you know, you could easily injure yourself, you’re knee can just go like that [Snap]. It took me a long time to do it, however getting back to your question. There were some, I remember one day going to my trailer at lunchtime, so tired I couldn’t even eat just falling asleep, just lying down on the floor. And I didn’t have my family with me because I get home and I just go straight to bed. And I’ll be up, whatever four doing yoga for an hour and a half then go to work. It was a very sort of monastic life during the film, it was very sort of monk like.

About a month ago, we spoke last; you said that you might have some news on who you would prefer to direct WOLVERINE…


Recently Bryan [Singer] said that he’s been offered to do WOLVERINE and doing some more research I’m hearing that it’s been you hoping to get Bryan to direct, is that accurate?

Well the… [Uncomfortable pause, then laughing] the thing is, it’s all in negotiation, I can’t really – there’s a list of, you know, Bryan ’s sort of at the beginning of, so you know of course he’s in the loop. So, it is too early for me to say.

The fact that he’s talking about it, is that kind of…

I think it’s great, you know, so we’ll see the way we go. Now we have the script, now we really need to work out who’s the best person for it. You know, Bryan ’s always been in the loop, for us.

Is the plan still to shoot mid-year, next year?

No… I meant to finish Baz’s [Luhrmann] movie end of August. My guess is that my… you know, Baz might just go… but who knows. I think we’ll go for beginning of 08. That way, I need to have my idea for Wolverine, I wanna have four months cleared before I start shooting because I wanna be in the shape, the physical shape that I’ve never been before for that movie.

Does Baz’s movie have a title yet?

No. I read a script yesterday, UNTITLED AUSTRALIAN EPIC [Laughing]. So, no.

So the Baz film will start shooting in February?

We start shooting in March. And we work together… there’s a name he calls it, it’s not workshop, it’s not rehearsals, I don’t even… but anyway, that period is about four, five, six weeks we’ll all be working together.

You’re character in THE FOUNTAIN, he obviously, you have in the two different periods, the present and the future; he’s gone through a lot between those two different periods. Did you do the present sequence before the scenes in the future?

Yeah, present, [the] conquistador and then the future because of the look. We really had to create very different looks… It was a shame because I was growing a beard because I remember seeing all these pictures of Brad and I thought, well that’s great, have that beard and not have a piece. And of course we had to shoot the present so it gave me, like, ten days to grow a beard. I was like, “Oh no, I can’t do that.” [Laughing]

You dropped quite a bit of weight for the future scenes.

Yeah, well I dropped quite a lot of weight for the whole thing. But particularly the future, yeah I was pretty lean. Darren really wanted for me to be lean, as lean as I could be. I was working so hard I wasn’t that hungry. But, I didn’t answer your question.

Just in terms of the sequence, how you played them, did that give you time to sort of think about how the later performance would be different than you played him in the present?

Oh, we’d already… I said we had a year. We were going to physically work out all the characters. I knew when we started filming, all those characters and physically I wanted to make a statement with them all like, Tommy’s a bit like a question mark, always hunched over, always working underground his lab is underground – that feeling of weight, always sort of looking down, the world on his shoulders.

And conquistador physically is very upright but his head is forward like the blinkers are on, nothing will stop him. Whereas, Tom in the future is much more Zen like. He’s worked out; even though he’s still haunted by all of this… he’s still motivated. He’s got the same motivations in a way but he’s worked out how to maintain his body at the optimum level. He does Tai chi, yoga, he meditates, he’s more Zen’d out. He’s still fighting.

Do mind if we ask about the rings? [In reference to the rings he wears on his fingers]

Yeah... it’s so funny, I was joking with my wife, I really don’t like jewelry but all of a sudden I’ve become like… [Showing off his rings to laughter]

Ring man.

Literally in the last month I’ve acquired these three things. I lost three wedding rings in three different oceans all over the world and I got this for my birthday [Showing off his wedding ring], that’s my wedding ring… that’s my fourth. I got this [bracelet] because my wife is sick of buying me wedding rings so she bought me a bracelet that she liked so that it would never come off. And for our production company, the three of us, my wife, John Palermo and I – my partner John gave us, the three of us a ring to wear with an inscription which means unity but it’s just our production company. I have all these badges on.

Going back to the physical part… when you start doing a role do you start with creating the physical look of the character or does that come after?

When I started acting we effectively followed, I learned the Stanislavski method, which is by the way very different from the Strausberg which is an off shoot of a famous Stanislavski book which is all about the internal, building a character from the inside, understanding emotions and psychological aspect of the person. Twenty years later, because of the difference in the countries, twenty years later in America , another book of Stanislavski was published called “Building a Character” which is literally, putting on funny noses, having a cane… And so Stanislavski was in fact a proponent of two methods, from the inside out, and from the outside in. And I’ve used both methods in varying degrees and always use both. But, it’s funny, when I see a lot of this method acting, which is… they say it’s all Stanislavski, and I’m like, you’ve only got half of it. You know it’s much more effective to use both. And each character you do has a different mix.

Let me know what you think. Send questions and comments to [email protected].

Source: JoBlo.com



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