Forty-four-year-old Australian Hugh Jackman reprises his defining role as the eponymous rage-fuelled mutant in The Wolverine. Just hours before the film’s world premiere in Seoul, the charming star sat down to talk about a possible Bollywood debut, those sharp claws, and an unlikely nude scene.
From your Oscar-hosting gig (in 2009) and your all-singing performance in Les Miserables, it’s quite evident that you’re musically inclined. That makes you perfect for a Bollywood film!
Shah Rukh Khan showed me a few steps when I was in India two years ago (at the FICCI Frames seminar in 2011), and I had a really good time. I can carry a note, I’d just have to learn the language. I’m probably not as good as Shah Rukh at the Bollywood dancing, so I’d need lessons. But I’m open to all offers ... (laughs).
You’ve played Wolverine in six films over the last 13 years. You must have so many memories…
I do! When my son (who’s 13 now) was a year old, I was given a Wolverine soft toy, that if you pressed the stomach of, it had my voice saying things like, I’ll slice you in half. He loved it. He used to sleep with it. In the middle of the night, he’d be sleeping and he’d roll over, and he’d accidentally press it, and in the other room I’d hear my voice going, This kick will take you down. I used to think to myself … I’m not sure this is a really healthy thing for him to be hearing in his sleep (laughs).
Why do you think Wolverine’s such an enduring superhero?
Wolverine’s not got the strongest powers, if you think of it really. He’s got claws, an adamantium skeleton, and he can heal himself. He can’t fly, he can’t jump; if you’re more than 10 yards away from him, he can’t really do anything to you. So in many ways, he’s got the least spectacular powers, and yet he’s the most feared; the most formidable. And that is not a superhuman quality, but a very human quality. This rage within, this slightly animalistic side to him … In the comic books, they call it the beserker rage. And I think that is why he’s so interesting and so cool, that’s why kids love him. Because kids feel that rage, right? We all do. But very few of us actually have a place to give it an outlet.
Have you got used to operating the claws now?
I’m a lot better at it now. I used to nick myself all the time. I stabbed the stunt double for Mystique on the first film. I remember her screaming to everyone on set: “I was stabbed by Wolverine”. After the second film, I kept the claws as a memento. I remember going directly to the airport from the set, and being stopped at security. The guard had never heard of the X-Men movies, so I had to do some serious explaining.