You’re the only famous Australian not to have been in Neighbours. Were you an ugly teenager?
Well, I was actually offered a part in Neighbours for two years playing this guy called Cameron. But I turned it down to finish drama school…
Cameron? Lou Carpenter’s lodger?
That’s him – he ended up playing the trumpet, I think. I was going to do it until the last minute. Then every day I’d see Neighbours, and there was this guy playing my role, playing my trumpet, while all I could afford to eat was Pot Noodles. I thought I’d made the biggest mistake of my life.
But now you’re Wolverine!
Yeah, I hated that Cameron guy for years, but I guess it turned out alright.
What’s the most lunatic Wolverine fan you’ve ever encountered?
The most intense guy was a man named Vinnie. He works in a restaurant owned by Robert De Niro called Bubby’s in Tribeca, New York. It’s a pretty well known hideout for people in the movies, so you don’t expect much attention when you go there. But when I went, I saw this weird thing in the corner of my eye. This guy kept bobbing up, and then every time I turned around he’d duck underneath a table. I started getting nervy about it so I asked the waiter what was going on…
A mentalist with a gun was about to kill you?
Not quite. He said, “Oh that’s our manager Vinnie, he’s a bit obsessed with Wolverine, so he’s a little nervous about you dining here.” I told him to send this “Vinnie” over. So, Vinnie comes to our table and the poor guy is sweating and shaking like you wouldn’t believe. I try and calm him down, and say, “Soooo, you like Wolverine, hey?…” He looks at me, doesn’t say a word, takes his shirt off in the middle of his restaurant and turns around…
Then he pulls out the gun?
No! No guns! He turns around and has this full-colour tattoo of Wolverine covering his entire back. I just thought it was unbelievable, which was a mistake. My enthusiasm made him go hyper. For about 12 minutes I had to pretend to be Wolverine for him, as he ran around the restaurant, climbing on tables, doing his best Wolverine impression with his shirt off. It was a pretty intense meal.
Has that been your strangest Hollywood moment?
Well, no… I did do a film called The Fountain where I had to make out with Rachel Weisz. That wouldn’t normally be that weird, but the film was being directed by her fiancé so it was just all a bit wrong, you know…
Oh God. Well, in the script it said we just make out for a bit, and then leave it at that because her character was supposed to be sick. So Rachel Weisz is in the bath utterly naked, and she pulls me in fully clothed to get it on. So she was naked, I was wet, and we start really going for it for the cameras. It’s getting passionate, we’d gone as far as the script had told us to, but nobody’s calling, “Cut!” Her fiancé is holding a camera five feet away from me egging me on to go further with his naked girlfriend…
Exactly. So she starts pulling off my top and starts grabbing towards, you know… there. Then I hear this voice go, “Rip off his pants!” At this point ?I get a bit freaked out, her director/fiancé calls cut and shouts at Rachel, “Why didn’t you take his pants off?” She goes, “I don’t know… I felt a bit shy.” I was like, “You’re kind of kinky, aren’t you mate?” He didn’t laugh too much at that, so I figured it best not to say anything else. At any moment, I was thinking he’s either going to hit me or go, “Keep doing it to her, man.”
And weren’t you also involved in Halle Berry’s infamous tit scene in Swordfish…
Yes, yes, I was. Actually, there’s a good story about that day. My wife had flown back from Australia and we were meant to have finished all the nude scenes. I thought we were done – and she was coming to the set. Then the director comes up to me and says we’ve got to re-do it all because there was “a negative” problem. So the point when I had to get my blow-job under the table is the point my wife walks onto the set!
Did she spaz out?
Well no, she’s done 25 movies, so she knows the nature of the beast. And you know, I’ve still been naked in showers with more guys than beautiful women. She just bowled straight up to the actress under my table and said, “I believe you just gave my husband a blow-job!” The poor girl went to pieces, so she told her, “Oh relax, you’re getting paid to give him head… enjoy it.”
How nice. Back to X-Men for a minute. Have you ever forgotten that you’re made up as Wolverine and scared yourself in a mirror?
Absolutely, and it scares you right up every time, mate. Sometimes you’ll start shooting at eight in the morning and finish at nine the following morning, so you just kind of forget that you’re all dolled up and just do regular things dressed as Wolverine while you wait for your scene.
Where’s the strangest place you’ve ever wondered off to dressed as Wolverine? Woolworths?
Yeah, done that. But it’s only when your head’s on that you forget about it. If you’re in the full “X-suit” you know about it. It’s like a giant corset and I sweat like a pig in that thing.
Did people start screaming?
Oh yeah, but people are normally quite calm actually. The funniest time I went out on the street as Wolverine was on Halloween. I went trick or treating in the full outfit. My little kid was dressed as Wolverine, too, and only one person noticed us. Nobody gave a shit – they were like, “Oh, we’ve seen 18 Wolverines already tonight. Make a bit more effort with the outfit, loser.”
We hear after X-Men: The Last Stand you’re going solo to do a film just about Wolverine…
Well, I just love the character and I thought there was enough there to warrant a film on its own. Typical actor of course, but the studio were into it, so it’s a goer. But I think he’s a hugely popular, bread and butter Hollywood character. I kind of see him as a Dirty Harry or a Mad Max – that kind of thing.
It’s not going to be like Joey is it?
Ha! Hopefully not. You know I don’t think we’ll be able to make something quite that quality, but we’ll give it a shot.
Do luvvies like Sir Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart run off to their trailers to play “Shakespeare” between scenes on X-Men?
No. But I tell you what – Ian McKellen has these very famous “soirées” as he likes to call them. Everyone goes and drinks and gets wild. He loves to get everyone pissed, and then someone will get on the piano and start playing him a song. They all then get up and start singing. I tell you, it’s really funny to see those guys singing like lunatics. It’s a great leveller.
Finally, is it true that you’re chums with Mr and Mrs Rupert Murdoch?
Yeah, our kids are big friends with theirs, so we’re big pals with the family. We get on really well. It’s pretty great, I have to tell you. Rupe and Wendy are very cool people.
Yeah. They’re very relaxed. I’ve been in the pool with him and our kids. He’s just lounging out in the middle there with his terry-towelling hat on. He’s a pretty normal guy…
Don’t your kids get jealous of the billion dollar toys at chez Murdoch?
Well, we had a party for our kids that we thought was great. And then about a week later it was Chinese New Year, and because Wendy’s Chinese, they threw a party, too. It was exactly the same party except they had one extra bouncy castle. Who has two bouncy castles? It was noted by my son, and his one bouncy castle no longer seemed cool.
Original interview by Lee Coan in the June 2006 issue of FHM UK magazine