Few actors get the opportunity that Hugh Jackman was afforded back in 2000’s X-Men, when a controversial (from the fans’ perspective) casting decision landed the then-largely unknown Australian actor the prime role of Wolverine. Over the course of nine films, Jackman has covered nearly every aspect of this character, wholly inhabiting the role to the point that the name “Wolverine” is now synonymous with Hugh Jackman. This all culminated with this spring’s Logan, Jackman’s final go-around as the character and his most ambitious turn yet. Working with director James Mangold, they crafted an unflinching, R-rated, Western-tinged drama about mortality, regret, and family all under the guise of a “superhero movie.” Audiences and critics responded warmly, and you really couldn’t have asked for a better send-off.
With Logan now available on Digital HD and hitting Blu-ray and DVD on May 23rd, I recently got the chance to chat with Jackman about the film—spoilers and all. During the course of the conversation we discussed the initial story idea that subsequently evolved into Logan, whether Logan dying was always part of the plan, and ideas that didn’t make it into the final Wolverine movie. We also discussed Jackman’s cameo in X-Men: Apocalypse, his thoughts on an eventual reboot of the character—and how Dafne Keene’s X-23 is really the best route there—and what most surprised him about the audience reaction to Logan. It was a wide-ranging and refreshingly candid conversation, and I’m thankful Jackman took the time to dig back into talking about this movie one last time. He put so much energy and passion into this character that it’s great to see him get to ride off into the sunset on such a high note.
Check out the full conversation below.
COLLIDER: Congrats on the movie, it’s fantastic. I kind of wanted to jump in and kind of ask, you said that you had a specific idea in mind for a final Wolverine movie for a while now. What was that initial story nugget that you’d been holding onto that expanded into Logan?
HUGH JACKMAN: Jim Mangold had mentioned to me not long after we did The Wolverine, the idea of Charles, the most powerful brain on the planet, what happens when that goes awry, and then them being on the run. So that was Jim, and he started with that. And I was constantly seeing The Wrestler, Unforgiven, that kind of tone. I really was interested in things like – I did a voice memo way back when and sent it to Jim two or three years ago and I said I’m more interested in keeping the camera rolling in the minute after a fight, not just the fight itself. And what is the effect on someone like Logan, from this lifetime of battling and the adrenaline and what happens. I really wanted to get inside that character I suppose, and really just explore it in a deeper way than we had before. I didn’t want it to feel like a victory lap or a final chapter, I wanted it to feel fresh and new and reveal things we hadn’t seen before.
Well I think you nailed it, and one of the interesting things about Logan is by going that route and going all out, making this the final one, now everyone wants to see more because this is so fresh and different.
JACKMAN: I must admit, before doing this one, I was like, this is it. This is the only idea I have, I don’t know what else to do, to do it any other way. And then when I saw this, I was like “Oh, this does feel fresh.” [Laughs] But all good things come to an end, man.
When you and James Mangold signed on to return after The Wolverine, did you always plan on having Logan die or was that something that sort of arose as you were developing it?
JACKMAN: No, it was talked about from the beginning. But I was personally, and Jim felt the same way, that we wanted the ending to be earned and be poignant and powerful. It was more powerful than I even thought when I read it on the page. I love the bit that Jim wrote, the part about the cross becoming the “X”, but somehow that moment on film was so powerful. I can’t think of any other way to finish it. But for me, one of the big influences was Unforgiven, and what makes that so powerful is that he doesn’t die, that he’s now in some kind of purgatory. That having done this heroic thing, he’s also now damned. And to see him walk out, and everyone with guns but they just don’t shoot him. That was more powerful than having him die. So I was always just open to whatever the ending would bring us.
I wanted to talk about that death scene for just a minute. James has confirmed that shot of Logan holding Laura’s hand, which is crushing, is straight from Yukio’s premonition in The Wolverine. How did that connection come about?
JACKMAN: That’s just Jim. He’s just brilliant in so many subtle ways. I’m so glad we’ve been able to discover all the things he thought about. He comes up with some really radical, out of the box ideas and colors it in such subtle ways. I remember when he rang me, the script was already written when he came up with the meta aspect of the comic books existing, and I was like, “Wow, that’s an interesting idea, that’s potentially dangerous, is it going to take people out of the emotion of the story? Is it too much?” I had a lot of questions. And Jim just ended up being right on all of them, honestly.
I mean, you guys signed up to make this thing in 2013, so this has been in development for quite a long time, and you’ve been candid in saying that there were a few heated discussions along the way due to your passion for really nailing this one. What were some of the biggest points of contention?
JACKMAN: I was very skeptical of having X-24 being played by me. I understood what it represented and thematically the idea of battling himself, which of course is right at the core of this character that we never fully got to, so I kind of loved the externalization of that. But I also know that myself as an actor and fans of Wolverine come up to me in the street every day and go, “We wanna see that full berserker animalistic crazy off-the-wall Wolverine,” right? That we don’t feel we’ve fully seen it, so I was like, “Jim if we introduced halfway or near the end of the movie that full berserker animalistic crazy Wolverine and he’s somehow fighting our hero, audiences won’t know what to feel.” And I remember him saying, “Trust me, trust me, trust me.” And I was a bit of a pain in the ass on that one, I was like, “I’m just not sure. Let’s keep exploring it and exploring it.” When I saw the movie it’s just clear, for some reason I think because he skewers Patrick Stewart in that moment the audience just sort of hates him. We did some subtle things, I changed the bridge of my nose, I wore contacts—I just wanted him to look a little different from myself. And I think by that point we’d created already the Wolverine that people wanted to see. So anyway, that was one of my examples of being wrong.