"For a long time, acting was something I did not consider as a career"

If holding one's own against supermodel turned actor Rebecca Romijn-Stamos and the versatile Meg Ryan is a test for stardom, then Hugh Jackman has passed with flying colours. Yet another of the Australian tribe beginning to make their mark in the film world, Jackman mesmerised as Wolverine in X-Men. He also stars in Paperback Hero, playing a truck driver with a gentle mushy side. The movie airs in Inida on Hallmark Channel on 26 April at 2:30 pm.

In an email interview with indiantelevision.com correspondent Ashwin Pinto Jackman, who got a Golden Globe nomination for Kate & Leopold, candidly held forth on his views on film, the stage, the connection between radio journalism and the acting craft as well as his role model, John Travolta.


Tell me about your character in 'Paperback Hero' and is this the most down to earth character you have played so far?

I would not call the character down to earth, but it was not too 'macho' like my other films. It was great experimenting.

To tell you the truth, the first thing I did after reading the script was to read a romance novel. That was tough going, in fact, I never finished it. So I thought maybe I'll try and write one myself. So I did that too. I tell you it's not easy! And frankly it was awful. One day I'll bring it out for a laugh. Generally, I think you'll find us Aussie blokes all have a soft side - maybe we don't show it that often.


Like Jack Willis, do you also have a feminine, sensitive side and if so, do you conceal it?

Like I said earlier, Aussie men have a soft side, in fact I think most men do. We, however, prefer not to show it off too often. We like to be the tough one, it's better that way. From a very young age, we are made to believe that boys who cry are sissies!


When did you realise that your destiny lay in acting and not in radio journalism? Was it easy for you to make the switch?

Well, I was very idealistic as a student. I pictured myself as a radio stringer for ABC or the BBC somewhere in the Middle East, filing reports, changing the world, all that sort of thing. But I realised I didn't have the passion, or the skill or the personality for it.

I sat back and realised that an actor's job overlaps a great deal with that of a journalist - you know, the love of stories and the quest to understand human nature and report back - it stands true for both.

Once I tried my hand at acting though, there was no turning back for me!

"While men and women do enjoy the freedom today, a lot of times this freedom is over rated and remains restricted"

picture courtesy imdb.com

Growing up, who were your acting role models and what did you learn from them? I am thinking of James Stewart, Gary Cooper.

Well, like I told you, for a long time, acting was something I did not consider as a career. I was always interested in movies and would watch them with great interest.

It's only when I joined the drama school, that I started to dream about being on stage at the National Theatre, and when I finally did that, I was well aware that it was one of my dreams come true. But we used to joke about coming to Hollywood. I mean, I was in Perth. It's the most isolated city in the world, a two-hour flight to anywhere. We used to make up stage names for ourselves that would sound good. My name became Jack Human. We just never thought it was really possible.

My role model and someone I always look up to is John Travolta. He's my all time favourite and I try and pick up as many acting tips from him as possible.

"To tell you the truth I'm a devil in disguise! Jokes apart, yes, I would consider doing a negative role"

What was the experience like working with your idol John Travolta in 'Swordfish' and what is it about his acting technique that you admire the most?

John Travolta is definitely my idol. He is the coolest cat ever. He is also one of the most generous people I have met both on and off screen.

He has been nice enough to share some good feedback with me from time to time. I take all the feedback I receive very seriously and work hard at implementing his recommendations in my work. John gives much thought to what he says, and has. He is such a great actor.

You got your breakthrough in the Australian prison drama 'Corelli'. Was it different from what the Americans are doing in terms of story structure, plot pacing?

Australia movies/dramas have a distinct flavour for two main reasons. The creativity required out of generally tight budgets, and our geographic isolation. This I think gives us an unconsciously unique voice.

You come across as a likeable kind of guy even in 'X-Men'. Would you look at doing a negative role in the near future in a bid to alter your image somewhat? Tom Cruise did something like that with 'Magnolia'.

Well, maybe I am just a likeable guy and hence I come across that way! To tell you the truth I'm a devil in disguise! Jokes apart, yes, I would consider doing a negative role. It's nice to experiment and it will be a good challenge for me as an actor.

The role would have to be substantial and challenging enough for me to take it up. Should I get an offer of that kind, I would love to do it.


How did you physically prepare for the role of Wolverine in 'X Men' and is being a gifted misfit something you can relate to?

There was the training and the reading up that was done. I identified with the role and knew what was expected from me. I hope I have, through my character been able to do a good job.


How is the upcoming summer release 'X2' going to be different from the first film in terms of production scale and your character development?

I'm not going to give away any details on this one! You're just going to have to wait and watch. But I can tell you one thing - it's going to be huge!

"For an actor as long as the role has substance and is challenging enough, I would take it up"

In 'Kate and Leopold' at the end, Meg Ryan decides to join your nobleman character in the 19th century. Don't you think that it is cynical considering the freedom that men and women enjoy today?

Well, while you might look at it as cynical, it's what the character was required to do, and I think the role was very well played. While men and women do enjoy the freedom today, a lot of times this freedom is over rated and remains restricted.

In any case, we were going back to the 19th century and the character would not have raised an eyebrow then!


One of last year's best films, the retrospective 'Far From Heaven' borrows the acting style used in the 1950s Douglas Sirk films. Would you take up such a challenge if it came your way?

Of course I would. Far from Heaven was an excellent movie.

For an actor, as long as the role has substance and is challenging enough, I would take it up. If the actor is sure the movie is going to 'stand out', there is even more reason to take up the film.


What were some of the high points during your career as a stage actor? Have you ever embarrassed yourself on stage accidentally and do you still get time for stage work?

There were loads of small shows we put up when at theatre school. Well, I am shooting Van Helsing for Universal, directed by Steven Summers. In July, I will play Peter Allen on Broadway in the Australian musical The Boy from Oz, which has kept me busy and with no free time.

It's a different feeling to face the audience and know that there are going to be no retakes, that's the fun of stage acting and I would love to do some more of it!


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