At this past weekend’s press junket for Real Steel, opening in theaters on October 7th, Collider got the opportunity to speak with the versatile and multi-talented Hugh Jackman, who plays washed-up boxer Charlie Kenton, a man whose sport has been taken over by 8-foot steel robots, forcing him to hustle for robot fights where he can get them and earning just enough money to survive.
While we will post the portion of the interview about what drew him to that role and how much his own kids love the movie, closer to the film’s release date, we did want to post what he had to say about his upcoming projects. When asked about which film he would be doing next, Jackman said he’d be doing a one-man show on Broadway, then playing Jean Valjean in Les Miserables for director Tom Hooper, at the beginning of next year, before doing The Wolverine after that. As far as returning to the Wolverine role goes, the Aussie actor said he’s looking forward to the backdrop of Japan, the rich source material they’re drawing from, and the addition of more ladies this time around. He also shared his enthusiasm for seeing what Eddie Murphy will bring when he hosts the next Oscars. Check out what he had to say after the jump:
HUGH JACKMAN: No, Les Miserables. I’m doing that. Tom Hooper is directing that. That’s going to be at the beginning of next year. Before that, I’m doing a one-man show on Broadway, and then Wolverine. So, it’s an eclectic year.
Are there any aspects of Wolverine that you get to explore this time, that you didn’t get to with the previous films?
JACKMAN: Absolutely. Every time, I feel. This time, more than anything, I think we’ve really nailed down that character. I think the audience and myself and the writers were like, “Enough of the [missing] memory with ‘Who am I? What happened in my past?’” That’s enough. I think we’ve explored that a lot. Now, it’s this great backdrop of Japan, which is going to be fantastic for this character. It’s a very rich source material with the comic book. And, there’s more ladies in this movie, which is a nice change from the last one. It was very testosterone heavy.
JACKMAN: I actually told that story to Tom Hooper, because one of the first scenes actually shows him in the prison camp that he’s in, being punished and whipped, and stuff like that. I said, “I can tell you right now, if you have me with my shirt off, people are going to say, ‘You were just doing what Jackman demanded in his contract.’” And he said, “I don’t think we need to do it without your shirt,” and I said, “Good.” So, when you see the movie, you’ll see.
Is it intimidating to take on something like Les Miserables, or is that the fun of it?
JACKMAN: Yeah, but that is the fun of it, exactly. It’s intimidating, and that’s the fun of it. I feel, you have to be a little bit intimidated or a little bit nervous. The percentage is probably 80/20. If 80% of you is really, really confident you’re going to nail it, and 20% of you is genuinely, really not so sure, that’s the kind of percentage you need to push yourself on, to do better than you’ve ever before. If it’s 100%, then I feel the audience can feel it. I feel like Jean Valjean is one the great literary figures in musical theatre. It’s one of the most famous characters of all time. Whoever is playing it, it should be them at their best, you know? That’s why I’m singing everyday and have been for awhile. And, that’s why I auditioned for the part. I rang Tom Hooper and I said, “Tom, I’m coming in and I’m auditioning for you.” He said, “Well, I actually haven’t made my deal yet.” I said, “I don’t care. I’m coming in now.” That audition was three hours. This was not one where I was going to sit back and wait to see if it came to me or not. I chased it.
JACKMAN: Three times.
Is there a difference in your approach to theatrical work, as opposed to movie work?
JACKMAN: Not really. Obviously, on the day there is a difference. As an actor, you have many tools – your body, your voice, your emotions, mentally. In film, you have your eyes because they communicate your thought process. In fact, generally in film, what you don’t say is more important than what you say. That’s not so much the case for stage. However, if you haven’t done that work and you don’t know what’s going on internally, particularly for a musical, and there’s not real thought behind the song, then no one will feel anything. But, essentially, acting is acting. It’s the same thing. So, I’m forever grateful that I did theater first. I think it’s much easier to be able to distill the technique from theater. It’s not like, “Let’s just add water to film.” There are genuine muscles that you need on the stage, that you don’t develop in film.
JACKMAN: You bet! I have an 18-piece orchestra. I sing. I dance. I tell some stories. I ad-lib a bit. Peter Allen, who I did in The Boy From Oz, makes a comeback. It’s genuinely my idea of a really good time. I figure, if I’m not having a good time, no one else will.
Has Brett Ratner asked you to do any musical numbers for the next Oscars?
JACKMAN: No, but I did email him to congratulate him on what I think was an inspired choice of Eddie Murphy. I said, “I don’t know what you did. I’m sure they’ve asked Eddie for the last 25 years, and I don’t know how you got him across the line.” As an Eddie Murphy fan, particularly with his stand-up, and he’s a big movie star, I can’t wait to see what he does. Nobody knows, and that’s always the most exciting thing about the Oscars. You never really know what’s going to happen, and I think having Eddie will exacerbate that.