DINKUM AUSSIE CHAP­PIE

Hugh Jackman had to re­learn his na­tive lingo for his star­ring role in a new sci-fi movie, which fol­lows the story of a robot who has feel­ings

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - MOVIES - NEALA JOHN­SON

Re­ports of the death of Hugh Jackman’s Aus­tralian ac­cent are greatly ex­ag­ger­ated. The ar­rival of Jackman’s new film, Chap­pie, has brought with it sto­ries that direc­tor Neill Blomkamp com­plained Jackman’s ac­cent wasn’t Aussie enough for the role and that the ac­tor was trolling the in­ter­net to find col­lo­qui­alisms he’d for­got af­ter living in New York.

But it was more about turn­ing up the Aussie ac­cent he al­ready has, Jackman re­veals.

“I’ve just come away from do­ing some­thing I’ve never done be­fore – a holo­gram press con­fer­ence,” Jackman mar­vels.

“Me and Neill were holo­grammed into Spain ... I can see the fu­ture of act­ing be­ing all done from the bed­room, ba­si­cally.”

This fu­ture-is-now oc­cur­rence is rather apt, given Chap­pie is a sci-fi thriller set in a not-too-dis­tant fu­ture where the streets of Jo­han­nes­burg are pa­trolled by a ro­botic po­lice force.

The city’s new-found peace is up­set when the droids’ cre­ator Deon (Dev Pa­tel) cracks the se­cret to ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence, bring­ing into the world the first robot that can learn, think and feel.

Jackman plays an­other droid de­vel­oper, Vin­cent: Aus­tralian, for­mer sol­dier, man of God and out for pay­back when his own robo crime fighter is over­looked in favour of Deon’s units.

“It was a lit­tle bit out of the blue,” says Jackman who, even with his de­sire to be a “jack of all trades”, never be­lieved he’d wind up work­ing with the kid who rein­vented sci-fi with Dis­trict 9.

“I got the call when I was on X-Men: Days Of Fu­ture Past, be­cause Simon Kin­berg was a writer/pro­ducer of that and also pro­duced Chap­pie. He said, ‘Neill wants to talk to you’. I pretty much signed up then and there be­cause Neill is a real mav­er­ick and a gen­uine au­teur. I re­ally loved Dis­trict 9 and think he changed the genre. Neill was the one who was like, ‘Man, I see you play­ing a bad guy’. I was like, ‘Cool. I mean, I know my kids think I’m a bad guy but I don’t think any­one else does!’ ”

Blomkamp had very strong ideas of how Vin­cent would look (blond-tipped mul­let, sa­fari shorts, ever-present rugby ball) and sound.

“I re­mem­ber Neill send­ing me script notes say­ing, ‘I re­ally want you to go broad Aus­tralian’,” Jackman re­calls. “He knows some of those exmil­i­tary guys. He came up with (the line) ‘mad as a frog in a sock’ and I was like, ‘Mate, I’ve never heard that and I was born and bred in Australia’. He goes, ‘Nah mate, I’ve seen it, it’s on Google!’ I found my­self Googling Aussie slang – I thought, ‘I’m go­ing to have to match him now’.”

Co-star Sharlto Co­p­ley, who donned a per­for­mance cap­ture suit to por­tray the tit­u­lar AI robot in the film, says his “favourite all-time Hugh Jackman per­for­mance” is the one he gives in Chap­pie. “It’s not a com­edy but his char­ac­ter is so in­ge­niously done and so funny. It’s priceless.”

Blomkamp calls it “hon­est”, say­ing Jackman “didn’t have to ma­nip­u­late or change him­self to fit the char­ac­ter”.

“I saw Vin­cent a bit like Ricky Ger­vais in The Of­fice, the guy who thinks he’s the coolest dude but in ac­tual fact no one likes him: they’re all just a lit­tle bit afraid of him,” Jackman says. “I had this im­age of a guy who changes shirts three times a day just so he can feel fresh and ready. It made me laugh. We had a lot of fun mak­ing the movie.”

Pic­ture: FRANK OCKENFELS

Hugh Jackman in char­ac­ter for Columbia Pic­tures' new sci-fi

Chap­pie.

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