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.
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
You dont do much press lately Hugh [Laughing]
Im very private. [Laughing] Im trying to keep the mystery.
Havent seen you for a couple weeks
Ive gotta tell ya man, about a month ago I thought, If these movies suck, Ill never work again. [Laughing]
At least youve had a busy year.
Its been busy, thats 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 Ive been working on for three years so
Im starting to read into the fact that you have better luck with animated loves that dont seem to die. [Laughter]
I like to think that in my private life its all perfect so I can play with it in my work.
I think people are going to see you in this film doing stuff youve never done before.
Im 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, its 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? Theres no point in putting it all out there on a script that really doesnt demand it and this one did.
Thats 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 dont 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 youre in there and youre 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 its private. Like tonight Ill see it at Manns Chinese Theatre and Im sure Ill be like ehhh [Grimacing].
Youre pretty out there
Yeah its pretty out there. Darren said to me - he was watching the dailies, Oh, Ive got this great daily I dont think I can use. I said, What? and he said, Youre crying so much that you have snot coming out of your nose and it goes into this bubble. [Laughing] And I said, Youre really happy about that? Yeah, its awesome. Its never been seen on film before! [Laughter] Snot bubbles! It didnt make the film luckily.
You could say this is basically a two character movie, basically about you and Rachel
Its a love story.
Whats different? Was it more like a play in that sense?
No, because if you think of almost a third of the movie Im on my own. For a lot of it, you know, like in the spaceship. Its very unlike a play, in structure or even in dialogue. Its not its fairly sparse in dialogue in fact and we repeat a lot of the same scenes. It is, your right, ultimately a two [character] its a love story. Its very romantic and I think its a very romantic movie between these two. And its ah I dont 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 dont 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 hadnt 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, Id meet her a few times, Id 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 hadnt seen all the things she could do yet. She is very much a heart based person, shes very caring.
As you interviewed her, shes very present and very there. I always saw that part having a lot of weight to it please dont transpose that literally, shes a very [slim] woman [Laughing]. Shes the emotional core of that movie. Shes 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 didnt even wanna go there because were together. I didnt want you to think, Oh, hes just gonna cast his, you know, I didnt 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 didnt want me to freak out, you know, how am I gonna do that when her boyfriends 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 hed always thought shed be right but probably thought, well thats 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 wasnt finished. Id 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 Ill 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.
Youve 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 Ive ever done. I know it probably looks easy but I dont know if youd 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, youre 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 couldnt even eat just falling asleep, just lying down on the floor. And I didnt have my family with me because I get home and I just go straight to bed. And Ill 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
Bryan [Singer] said that hes been offered to do WOLVERINE and
doing some more research Im hearing that its been you hoping
[Uncomfortable pause, then laughing] the thing is, its all
in negotiation, I cant really theres a list of, you know,
The fact that hes talking about it, is that kind of
think its great, you know, so well see the way we go.
Now we have the script, now we really need to work out
whos the best person for it.
Is the plan still to shoot mid-year, next year?
No I meant to finish Bazs [Luhrmann] movie end of August. My guess is that my you know, Baz might just go but who knows. I think well 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 Ive never been before for that movie.
Does Bazs 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 theres a name he calls it, its not workshop, its not rehearsals, I dont even but anyway, that period is about four, five, six weeks well all be working together.
Youre character in THE FOUNTAIN, he obviously, you have in the two different periods, the present and the future; hes 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 thats 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 cant 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 wasnt that hungry. But, I didnt 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, wed 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, Tommys 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. Hes worked out; even though hes still haunted by all of this hes still motivated. Hes got the same motivations in a way but hes worked out how to maintain his body at the optimum level. He does Tai chi, yoga, he meditates, hes more Zend out. Hes still fighting.
Do mind if we ask about the rings? [In reference to the rings he wears on his fingers]
Yeah... its so funny, I was joking with my wife, I really dont like jewelry but all of a sudden Ive become like [Showing off his rings to laughter]
Literally in the last month Ive 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], thats my wedding ring thats 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 its 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?
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
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