Facetime with Hugh Jack­man

Variety - - Contents -

Some stars play it safe, but not Hugh Jack­man, who keeps push­ing him­self in new di­rec­tions. Af­ter a string of widerang­ing roles (“Pris­on­ers,”“the Great­est Show­man,”“lo­gan”), he again shows his ver­sa­til­ity by play­ing politi­cian Gary Hart in Sony’s “The Front Run­ner,” which opens wide Nov. 21.

Do you seek out chal­leng­ing roles?

Yep. I was as scared of this as any­thing I’ve done. The weight of play­ing some­one who could have been pres­i­dent — and who was mer­cu­rial and enig­matic, and who I knew would see the film — all made this very frightening. But I’ve learned if you’re go­ing to be scared, make sure you’re work­ing with great peo­ple who will catch you, like [di­rec­tor] Ja­son Reit­man.

Part of the com­plex­ity is that Gary Hart didn’t open up.

I made five bound books of re­search about him, his back­ground and pol­i­tics. I also spoke with those who worked with him; they said Gary would draw you in, but just as you’re get­ting close, the shut­ters would close. I re­lated him to my fa­ther, who’s very smart, very eth­i­cal, prin­ci­pled, but a hard man to get to know. That’s partly the gen­er­a­tion, partly per­son­al­ity. Also, my brother, who’s a Rhodes scholar, is a dizzy­ing in­tel­lect. I fig­ured be­ing around Gary must be like be­ing around my brother, where you’ve got to gal­lop just to keep up.

You’ve been a star for al­most 20 years. Have the bound­aries of pri­vacy changed?

The big­gest sin­gle change is that ev­ery­body now car­ries a cam­era. There used to be a sense of “I prob­a­bly shouldn’t bother him.” Now it’s “Sure, I’m go­ing to talk with him.” For me, it doesn’t feel like a bur­den, and the ben­e­fits far out­weigh the neg­a­tives in what I get to do for a liv­ing. For Gary, it’s re­ally dif­fi­cult; he was al­ways strug­gling with it.

The movie seems to be say­ing that in 1987, pol­i­tics sud­denly be­came more show­biz.

As an ac­tor, you’re a brand; your film is a brand. We un­der­stand that in show busi­ness. Gary re­jected that idea. At that mo­ment in 1987, pol­i­tics changed for­ever.

In­ter­view by TIM GRAY Pho­to­graph by MAARTEN DE BOER

Things You Didn’t Know About Hugh Jack­manAGE: 50 BIRTH­PLACE: Syd­ney FA­VORITE CHAR­I­TIES: Global Cit­i­zens Fes­ti­val, Laugh­ing Man Cof­fee, MPTF TWIT­TERFOL­LOW­ERS: 12.8 mil­lion OM RUN: Prac­tic­ing T.M. since age 20 FIRST JOB: Gas sta­tion at­ten­dant, grave­yard shift

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