Updated: Dec 29, 2017 1:21 pm
Let's face it, any guide to Hugh Jackman movies is going to bring to mind the Wolverine movies and/or the X-Men movies. The bottom line is that no matter what, you're going to think about Hugh Jackman as Wolverine. But as he's proving in his latest film, The Greatest Showman, there's a hell of a lot more to him than than claws. Like playing P.T. Barnum in that film, he is, at heart, an entertainer, who has easily managed to shift back and forth between movies and the stage, from drama to musicals.
Born October 12, 1968 in Sydney, Australia, Hugh's first role was in a grammar school production of My Fair Lady in 1985. Although he eventually majored in Communications, to make up some additional credits he took a drama course that changed his life. He fell in love with the idea of acting, and dancing — though the latter was something that he spent a great deal of time purposely avoiding, which is something he regrets.
“I understand the pressures to follow the crowd,” he admits. “To fit in, to be a certain way. I truly love dance, but there were eight years of my life that I didn’t do it, just because I wanted to fit in. So now it resonates with me, and I think with most people on the planet, that to be authentically you is the only path that can bring you true happiness. Otherwise you’re putting on a mask to make other people happy. And as the father of two teenagers, I talk to them constantly about the idea that no matter who you are, no matter how you’re different from supermodels and football players, it’s irrelevant. Love yourself exactly the way you were born.”
Take those words to heart, bub!
Lead image via Getty.
Scroll down to check out the definitive guide to Hugh Jackman movies over the past 19 years.
The Prestige (2006)
After a tragic accident two stage magicians — Hugh as Robert Angier and Christian Bale as Alfred Borden — become locked in battle to create the ultimate illusion whilst sacrificing everything they have to outwit the other. Upon reading the script, Hugh was hooked. He was drawn to Angier's journey —
which takes him from the bright lights of success to the darkest shadows of the human soul. "At the beginning of the story, Angier is very optimistic, hopeful and energetic," he observes. "His main strength as a magician is as a performer. He simply loves being in front of a crowd. He has an ease and a panache and a great sort of way with the audience. In fact, to be somewhat critical of him, you could say that his style is sometimes far greater than his content. But then Angier meets Alfred Borden and everything in his life changes. My character can sell a trick to an audience with far more skill, but Borden is a kind of inventive genius. When things go wrong between them, Angier has two conflicting responses. On the one hand, he begins to loathe Borden, but on the other, he is driven by a competitive obsession to be better than Borden.
"Magicians were essentially the rock stars of their day," he adds. "It was very different from today in that a lot of the magic back then seemed truly death-defying to audiences and it seemed there was a lot of danger, because something could go wrong at any moment. It was a fantastic time for that new kind of shocking theater which preceded modern entertainment."
X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009)
A prequel to the previous X-Men films, this is a look at Wolverine's early life, in particular the time he spent as part of the government squad Team X and the impact it will have on his later years. "I had more fun playing Wolverine in this film than ever before," he says. Adding to this excitement is the fact that he served as producer as well: "I was trained in theater, where you're involved with everything. By the time you go onstage opening night, you know a lot about not only your role, but about the set design, costume design, story development... everything. That excitement, knowledge and preparation are a key part of the experience. The other thing was, of course, the character. With the previous X-Men films, I never had Logan looking exactly as I wanted him to look. For this one, I wanted Logan to look animalistic, veins popping out, and coiled like a spring. I wanted audiences to say, 'Okay, this guy is frightening; this guy could easily rip someone's head off.'"
Les Miserables (2012)
The adaptation of the Broadway musical, and a film in which virtually everything is sun. In 19th-century France, Jean Valjean (Hugh), who for decades has been hunted by the ruthless policeman Javert (Russell Crowe) after breaking parole, agrees to care for a factory worker's daughter. The decision changes their lives forever. Of his audition, Hugh recalls, "It lasted three hours. It was director Tom Hooper's first working session with the material, and it turned into a workshop. It was undoubtedly the most exhilarating audition of my life, but I eventually had to tell Tom I needed to go home and put my kids to bed."
Already a fan of the show, Hugh had seen it three times and had, in fact,sung "Stars" during one of his first auditions just out of drama school. "Valjean is one of the greatest literary characters of all time," he notes. "You follow him for a 20-year span, having been released on parole as an ex-convict, to becoming mayor of a town, to becoming an outcast again. Throughout that time, you see all the ups and downs, the pain and the ecstasy that life brings. He is incredibly human, remarkably stoic and powerful and, ultimately, completely inspiring. His life is truly epic."
The Wolverine (2013)
When Wolverine is summoned to Japan by an old acquaintance, he is embroiled in a conflict that forces him to confront his own demons. Though this marked the sixth time that Hugh Jackman had donned the persona of Logan, it was like nothing that had come before. For one thing, as the film starts, Logan is unsure of what direction to turn as he heads to Japan. "He's someone who has always marched to the beat of his own drum, but at the beginning of our movie he's probably more isolated than you've ever seen Wolverine," explains Hugh. "He's disaffected with the world, because he was created as a weapon and he's rebelling against that — and he feels that he is a danger to society.
"You see Logan more vulnerable, more at risk, and more of a monster than you've ever seen him before. He's struggling with identity, he's struggling with his reason to exist, and now he faces the choice of whether to embrace his true nature or not."
In the near future, crime is patrolled by a mechanized police force. When one police droid, Chappie, is stolen and given new programming, he becomes the first robot with sentience and, in turn, the ability to think and feel for himself. Hugh is Vincent Moore, the film's villain and a guy who is fervently against the idea of artificial intelligence. "I don't think I've ever had as much fun playing a character as Vincent Moore," he says. "He's an Australian, so it was nice to use my own accent. The key to understanding Vincent is he will not lose. Even when the odds are against him, even when all the signs are pointing in another direction, that's when he fights harder. He feels what he is doing is so important, that he can't accept anybody else's direction or even the fact that anyone else can win. He brings a genuine argument to the table, and he's convinced that what he's doing is right and necessary. What makes him a villain is his inability to lose. That trumps everything and he becomes very destructive, very angry and vengeful."
An origin story for Peter Pan, who comes to Neverland for the first time and finds himself going up against Hugh's pirate, Blackbeard. "I've played bad guys before, but I don't think I've ever played one quite this bad," he notes. "Not only is he dastardly, but he loves to hear himself talk, to make speeches and use big words. He thinks he's very important, and he is scary, but he's having a good time and that made him a fun character to play. I also knew that I'd never get to do this again, play a pirate that sees himself almost as a rock star, and actually get to sing a rock song as a pirate. We — me, the other pirates, the kids — we sang Nirvana, we sang some Ramones, all together, in unison. It was quite spectacular."