How Jack­man beat his fears

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - GOODMOVIES - MAR­GARET GAR­DINER

HUGH Jack­man is a bear of a man. Im­pres­sive in height and physique, sure; but the most im­pres­sive thing is his per­son­al­ity: warm-hearted, af­fa­ble and de­void of even a hint of star phoni­ness.

I’ve seen him sur­prised at a pri­vate din­ner with his wife, over­look­ing the Acrop­o­lis, I’ve watched him film in hor­ri­ble cir­cum­stances. I’ve seen him on the red car­pet. Each en­counter is with a man who goes out of his way to treat ev­ery­one with re­spect – not a given in Hol­ly­wood. He’s mar­ried to an “older woman”, De­borra- Lee Fur­ness, whom he met when the two starred to­gether in a TV show in Aus­tralia. They have two chil­dren, Os­car and Ava. Jack­man was raised by his dad, his mother hav­ing left the fam­ily of five to re­turn to Eng­land. He’s hosted the Os­cars, dances, sings, has been nom­i­nated for an Acad­emy Award for his per­for­mance in Les Mis­er­ables, and has a Golden Globe for the same per­for­mance.

In his new film, The Wolver­ine, out on Fri­day in South Africa, he plays the ti­tle char­ac­ter for the sixth time. The film sees Jack­man’s char­ac­ter in mod­ern-day Ja­pan, af­ter the events of X-Men: The Last Stand. Out of his depth in an un­known world, he faces his neme­sis in a life-or-death bat­tle that will leave him for­ever changed. Vul­ner­a­ble for the first time and pushed to his lim­its, he con­fronts lethal samu­rai steel and his in­ner You are play­ing a su­per­hero again, but this time he has a phys­i­cal vul­ner­a­bil­ity: This is the sixth time I’ve played Wolver­ine, and there’s been a weird in­fla­tion of his in­vul­ner­a­bil­ity. It got to the point where you had to throw him off a build­ing, chop off his head, pul­verise it, and he’d still come back. There was also his lack of mem­ory about his past, or be­ing haunted by things. In this film, we

‘I used to be very fear­ful as a kid. I was scared of the dark, of heights, of a lot of things’

ex­plore liv­ing in­def­i­nitely with re­gret and pain. It opens with him at his low­est point… he’s lost. Ev­ery time he tries to con­nect, ev­ery­one he loves dies. In a way he just wants out. I thought it was a won­der­ful theme to ex­plore; to see his vul­ner­a­bil­ity. All of us want to con­nect. That’s en­demic of be­ing hu­man. For him con­nec­tion means de­struc­tion and fail­ure. Add to it that he’s be­ing of­fered what he de­sires on some level, to end it. When some­one of­fers you that, what do you do? To see him bat­tle with mor­tal­ity, to un­der­stand that the mere act of chop­ping wood tires him, and it feels good. If you could re­gen­er­ate all the time it might ac­tu­ally feel good to have a What toll does it take from film to film to go phys­i­cally from big, to nor­mal and back again? I’m train­ing and I’m fit and healthy, but I eat too much meat, too much an­i­mal pro­tein. I want to change that. Los­ing and gain­ing weight rapidly is not very good. My friend who’s a doc­tor said I need reg­u­lar check-ups if I change like that. So far the num­bers seem okay. I do watch it more care­fully than I used to. But, you know, I get up at 4am and train and com­plain to my wife and she goes, “You love it”. I do. How fa­mil­iar were you with Ja­panese cul­ture? I’ve been there maybe 11 times, and close to ob­sessed with it. To shoot there for this film was a great joy. There’s a lot of the Ja­panese cul­ture I ad­mire. We were on the bul­let train, it’s four hours, and ev­ery­one had their bento boxes per­fectly laid out. They’d taken off their shoes and placed them neatly, and slipped on slip­pers and it was quiet. An hour into the trip some­one came up and asked us to be quiet. I didn’t think we were loud. We were just talk­ing and re­alised how much space we take up. I ad­mire the eco­nom­i­cal, re­spect­ful way the Ja­panese treat their per­sonal space, fam­ily and tra­di­tions. I al­ways find it ex­cit­ing to go there. I al­ways feel sloppy and hap­haz­ard, like a bull in a china shop, when I’m in Ja­pan. Does De­borra- Lee make you wear the slip­pers? She wants me to wear all that stuff, the dress­ing-gowns, the ki­monos. All of that stuff. Wolver­ine is afraid of fly­ing; what are you afraid of ? I used to be very fear­ful as a kid. I was scared of the dark, of heights, of a lot of things. In Aus­tralia ev­ery week at school we were rock climb­ing or ab­seilling or jumping down things or at a theme park. I was afraid of roller-coast­ers. I just made my­self get over it. There was a high board at our school pool and I spent one month go­ing off the top board un­til I was no longer scared. That was it. I was no longer scared of any­thing. When you are 14, in Aus­tralia, you have to go out into the bush and sleep for two nights. When you’ve done that you are no longer scared of any­thing. That’s when I got it. You are al­ways go­ing to be scared of some­thing in your life, I don’t care who you are, but you need to face it, be­cause if you don’t, it be­comes a weight on your shoul­der. To this day if I’m afraid of some­thing I go: “Al­right, got to do that.”

GOOD GUY: Hugh Jack­man is mod­est de­spite his enor­mous suc­cess.

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