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Now that I am a little more confident, I try and challenge myself: Hugh Jackman

At the Singapore premiere of 'X-Men: Days of Future Past', Shubha Shetty-Saha caught up with Hugh Jackman. Excerpts from the interview...

So are you planning to take some gifts for family from Singapore?
Hugh Jackman: I bought these little pots for my wife to keep condiments. Tomorrow is my son’s 14th birthday. So I have been looking to buy something for him. Apart from these small things, I bought a jar of amazing coco jam. Have you tasted kaya toast here? You must. It is soft poached egg on toast with butter and coconut jam, and I know it sounds weird, but it tastes really good.

Hugh Jackman, seen here sporting a bandage on his nose, had a surgery to remove a cancerous growth before his film’s Singapore premiere. Pic/AFP
Hugh Jackman, seen here sporting a bandage on his nose, had a surgery to remove a cancerous growth before his film’s Singapore premiere. Pic/AFP

Is Wolverine any different in this one, compared to his character in the earlier films?
Jackman: Yeah, he’s a little different in this film, in the sense that he is sort of a mediator here. He is more diplomatic and patient, calm and understanding, which is tough for him. He is a good guy, but he is not a nice guy. He is the last person in the world to have patience. He is always has this ferocity in him and he means business.

Nicholas Hoult, James McAvoy and Hugh Jackman in a still from 'X-Men: Days of Future Past'
Nicholas Hoult, James McAvoy and Hugh Jackman in a still from 'X-Men: Days of Future Past'

What was it like coming together with the team again, along with director Brian Singer?
Jackman: You know I woke up at 3.30 this morning and I felt this moment of real gratitude. This film looks fresher than ever; it’s like it is the beginning. I am lucky to have worked with such talented bunch of people for so many years. I have been around long enough to recognise good talent when I see it. It was like a huge reunion for us. I am so impressed with James McAvoy. I watched him do this three-page scene opposite Patrick Stewart, they play the same characters and I was amazed. I find that the younger cast had the same bond that we shared, they laugh together a lot, which is good.

In this film, there are two parallel universes. Was it more of a challenge fitting into both worlds?
Jackman: I think this future and past thing was more challenging for the writer. The more you look into it, more things unravel and it could become really complicated. Dotting your i’s and crossing the t’s becomes really important. It is like cleaning the slate for some of the X Men movies. It is a very fresh storyline, rather than just a reboot. After seeing this film, I feel fresher, like we have come a full circle. I have too much respect for the character and the audience to do something just for the heck of it.

Your character in this film goes back to the past to change some things. If you could go back into your past, what would you like to change?
Jackman: Oh, a lot of things. Right now in my life, I am at ease and blessed to have what I have. Yes, I do wish I could go back to my high school days and take things more easily. At that time, everything seemed like the end of the world. When a girl dumped me, I took it so seriously that I thought I am never going to love anyone again. Everything was so important at that time. I remember people telling me not to take things so seriously but everything was end of the world for me. I wish I had a little more fun with my life.

You are said to be one of the nicest guys in Hollywood. Is it tough to be kind when you are always in the limelight?
Jackman: Please tell my kids about me being a nice man (laughs). You know I was brought up in a particular manner. If my dad were here, he would ask me to first get the elbows off the table. He taught us to be respectful and polite. You always end up being how you are brought up, even if you try to deviate and rebel. I have never heard my dad say a bad thing to or about anyone and he has always been kind to everyone, including his family. So it is natural for me to be like that. To be anything but like that would take a lot of hard work.

I remember at the beginning of my career, I had this publicist who would tell me to not move my hands too much while talking. I was told that if you want to be a star, keep a mystery about you. I couldn’t do that. I need to be myself. If I spend all my energy being someone else on screen,
I can’t possibly do that off screen too.

You are playing the same character for the seventh time. Is there any fear of feeling jaded?
Jackman: Jaded? No. If I had ever felt that, I would have the courage and also enough respect for the audience to walk away. Just the other day, a friend was dining with me and he told me that he wonders how I have managed to keep the excitement alive. That is probably because I love my job, I love it all the more now. Now that I am a little more confident, I try and challenge myself. I want things to be a little uncomfortable. It is not easy to be there and host an Oscar show, one slip and you could fall on your face and ruin your entire career. That’s when it becomes exciting.

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