Meeting and interviewing Hugh Jackman was surreal. Not 5 feet in front of me was a man who I’ve watched in numerous movies and who I’ve always had a bit of a crush on. I’ve always heard good things about Mr. Jackman both in the press and from other actors, directors, etc. and I can truly say he was a kind man who gave off such a good energy and lust for life that I was giddy for hours after talking with him. A bit of the interview is below:
Q: Everybody that’s been in the room has just had amazing things to say about you. Is that important to you — your reputation with your crew?
HJ : Yeah. I think it — I think it — that’s a good question. It probably is. I think in a way the leader of the film is the director, alright. But I come up with a little bit of the old school like if the actor’s gonna be snobby or and that filters around everybody — I don’t know. I think your job is to bring people together. Like it’s a team — acting, filmmaking is the definitely of a team effort. So if you can’t be that kind of guy that enjoys being around other people, then don’t turn out. Like don’t be in the film, you know.
Q : And you worked with those guys before?
HJ : I’ve never worked with before. However I actually only worked with one of them before. But i– it’s a weird thing on film. Like you guys have been together how long?
Blogger : Today
HJ : So imagine your life is for four months every day. About four– fourteen hours a day. And you go out and like you do the — you become like an instant family. It’s really amazing how quickly you bond, you know.
So, uh, yeah, it’s — it’s weird. And like a lot of them have only just like Shawn has become one of my closest friends, you know.
Q : He said you called his daughter on her birthday.
HJ : Oh. I’ve had a crush on her daughter. Charlie. Same name as my character. And she’s three. And then most of the — well she’s in the movie. She’s young but she’s such a cutie. And she wrote me a little love letter. She has no idea by the way. She just thinks that, you know, daddy’s friend at work is cute. She has no idea who she is writing this letter to.
HJ : She has no idea. Are you trying to say this is not real?
Q : Have your kids seen the movie yet?
HJ : They — oh my gosh. So I have an eleven year old boy and a six year old girl– I’m gonna take you back a little ’cause when I read the script, I — I’m not proud of this moment. But I had the script for three days. And I was busy. You know, what it’s like. Leave home. So you get it mom’s and dad’s. And so I was busy and then my agent rang and said, “Shawn’s actually flying into New York for another thing and wants to meet with you in the morning for breakfast to discuss the script.”
And I was like, “No problem.” And I was just about to read to my son. I had just read to my daughter. And, uh, he was writing to Tin-Tin. He loves Tin-Tin. He goes, “Dad, can we read Tin-Tin?” And I said, “Oh, how about we read this real…. story.
It’s called “Real Steel” about robots. And he was like, “Really?” A script — like he was — he’s not interested in my job at all, right. So I said, “Well I’ll read a few pages.” And he goes, “Alright.” So my son always draws while I read.
So I’m reading. I’m getting into the script and I went, oh, Oscar. And I looked up. He’s like, “Go on, go on, go on, go on.” Like he was so into it. And then he made me read the script to him every night for like ten night — at least ten nights in a row. And he goes, “You keep reading more. Read more. And then can we get back to the beginning [UNINTELLIGIBLE]. And what about the [UNINTELLIGIBLE].” He loved this script. And he sat next to me in the film. And it’s the first time I’ve ever taken my kids to a film, right ’cause none of my films have really been applicable I thought for them.
And, uh, so he was there. My daughter who’s only six. Um, and I just knew she would love it. My daughter — I’m giving you background here. But my daughter since she was two like i– if we drive — if you played soft rock, she’s be like, “Uhhhh,”. But the moment you put on heavy metal she was [OVERLAP] like literally like this. (at this point Hugh Jackman is rocking out.)
She’s a [UNINTELLIGIBLE] girl, right? [OVERLAP] So I thought, “She’s gonna love this movie.” I knew it. So she [LAUGHS] I said to her, “Are you enjoying it?”
And she goes, “Yeah”.
I said, “Really? What about Ann?” And she goes, “No, I love [UNINTELLIGIBLE].” So [UNINTELLIGIBLE]? And she says, “Because he understands Dakota.”
Q : (all the bloggers go) Awwww.
HJ : So anyway, yes, is the very long answer to that. And they loved it. And I saw the movie with my mother in law who’s 75 and my wife and my two kids. And all of them were cheering and they were like crying and they just — they just loved it.
It was a really great moment for me, you know, to genuinely have all those three generations loving it. You guys I feel like you’re sitting on the reserve bench here. Come sit here.
Q : They want to be able to see you. If they’re sitting next to you A few blogger move to sit next to Hugh Jackman.
HJ : So there was one funny moment. One funny moment when Evangeline Lily and I kiss in the movie. And I saw my wife was sitting here. So my wife’s here, my son is here. And my wife looked past me. I mean she’s — she’s an actress too. She’s used to it. And so she looked past me to look at Oscar. And Oscar goes, “You’re gonna be in trouble.” And I lost it. It was really funny.
Q : I’ve interviewed you in the past and I asked if you let your kids do you know, watch the movies, read the comics. And you said, “No.” This was two years ago. You were like, “No.” They — and your exact answer was, ‘They don’t need to see their dad ripping people up.’
HJ : [LAUGHS]
Q : Did you think that for your six year old this movie was appropriate because I also have a six year old and I wouldn’t let him see it.
HJ : I understand [UNINTELLIGIBLE OVERLAPPING DIALOGUE] [INTERVIEWER INTERRUPTS]
Q : He’s a boy.
HJ : I understand that. Like my son to this day is terrified to “Harry Potter”, right? He — he — the music. He’s very sensi– like I just know for him I wouldn’t let him see it. My daughter was shown “Harry Potter” by a babysitter. Like I came home and a babysitter had shown it. I was like, “You kidding? Harry Potter.” And my daughter’s like, “I love Harry Potter!”
I said, “Are you scared?” And she goes, “Scared? What?” I knew [INTERVIEWER INTERRUPTS]
Q : Ava’s a firecracker. [LAUGHS]
HJ : I just knew if I — that she would love it. I think as a parent and all parents know — I mean I had a father who would if it’s PG-13, you could watch that movie when you turned 13.And — and his thing was, “I don’t know movies. I don’t know. If that’s what they’re saying, that’s what I’m gonna do.” And that was his — I — I was the only kid — I think I’m older than the rest of you guys.
I was the only kid not to see “Star Wars”, right? Until I was 13. That movie came out when I was seven. I saw that movie like six years later like I think you guys know “Star Wars”.
Q : Yeah.
HJ : From my age it was pure obsession. And I would beg my father. And he goes, “No. 13. 13.” I, uh, my friends had birthday parties where they all went to see “Star Wars”. And I couldn’t So and I was like right from then I was like I think you have to take it on a movie by movie basis. I think you have to really look at it.And you just have to do as a parent what you feel comfortable with and [INTERVIEWER INTERRUPTS]
Q : Do you let them do “X-Men” now?
HJ : No.
Q : Still no. OK. Good to know.
HJ : I still think it’s a little [INTERVIEWER INTERRUPTS]
HJ :Look, if I wasn’t in — if I wasn’t in it [INTERVIEWER INTERRUPTS]
Q : That’s what I was gonna say. If it wasn’t you . . .
HJ : Maybe. I still think that certain elements which are just a little — I mean [OVERLAPPING DIALOGUE] they see me getting very angry and yelling and screaming. And I still am slicing and dicing.
But I can tell you many people have come up to me and says, “Oh my God, will you sign this for my four year old. He loves….” And I’m like, “Alright.”
Q : [LAUGHS] [UNINTELLIGIBLE OVERLAPPING DIALOGUE] In one you’re ripping people up and the other one you’re a mean dad. That’s [INAUDIBLE].
HJ : Yes, it’s interesting. The movie — what I realized plays on different levels for different audiences. So my son — he’s say, “Oh, so I can have sodas for breakfast now?” But apart from that he didn’t really talk about it — the — the father/son thing. They — he really gets into the relationship between the boy and the robot.
Q : Yeah.
HJ : And my daughter gets into the — the robot stuff. And they love that. Um, but the father/son story is strange son — that whole thing. If they do get into it, they don’t talk to me about it. I — I don’t think they really, uh, that hits home. For me that hits home. I think for you guys that’s what hits home. And that’s what’s, uh, good [UNINTELLIGIBLE].
Q : You’re talking about your dad. Your dad used to box. Did you go
HJ : You guys did your research.
Q : [OVERLAPPING DIALOGUE] Is that connected to this movie [UNINTELLIGIBLE OVERLAPPING DIALOGUE]?
HJ : Um, OK, so on the thing of what parents will allow their kids to do, you understand my father is pretty strict and just followed by — my father never told me he was a boxer. I found out from my uncle, his brother. He said, “You didn’t even know your dad was a champion. Oh, he [UNINTELLIGIBLE] box.
My dad was an accountant.
Champion. I guess, uh, he was the army champion — the boxing champion. I was like, “B– boxing? Are you kidding me?”
And so I was probably 15 or 16 when I found that out. My father — and I asked him. And he says, “Look, you and your brother used to fight every day. And I thought if I told you I was a boxing champion, it was just gonna be like a green light.you guys you can just go to town on each other. And I’d come home and you would be beating each other up. I’d never let you watch — well, uh, we weren’t allowed to watch the wrestling. Um, we weren’t allowed to watch boxing ’cause he thought it was gonna give us — see he’s — he’s like a — he — no.
He thought the wrestling were like we’d practice the moves at home, right? Now [INTERVIEWER INTERRUPTS]
Q : We used to do it anyway.
HJ : The truth be told we did everything [OVERLAPPING DIALOGUE] anyway.
Q : But he wasn’t responsible.
HJ : Exactly.
Q : Did you watch a lot of TV growing up? ‘Cause actors are always like, “I wasn’t even allowed to watch TV. I didn’t even have a television.”
HJ : Yeah, no. Uh, you know, my mom left when I was eight so I was brought up by my father. His five kids. So pretty much we w– I could watch TV.
Q : You were brought up by TV?
HJ : Yeah. But my mom and my dad [STAMMER] I was an expert. I — I could — I knew it was 17 seconds from the tires on the gravel on the driveway to the door opening, right? And I knew that was enough time for me to hide the ice cream I’d been eating, turn off the TV, make my bed, do whatever I needed to do. “Hey, dad. Welcome home.” You know, But I used to watch a lot of TV.
Q : You have a reputation as being a hands-on great dad. You know, was it hard not being that guy?
HJ : I gotta say I think I know but, uh, Shawn had to keep prodding both me and Dakota. ‘Cause Dakota is a very well-brought up, polite boy like, “Hi, Mr. Jackman. It’s a great honor to be in a movie with you.” And I was like, It was cute, but I’m like, “We’re gonna have to break this down.” So I was playing practical jokes on him. And — and I had to be mean to him and Shawn encouraged me to go for it.
Look, you guys, I — I — you guys I can tell this to. Sometimes I tell this to the journalists. They’re like, “Really?” When you have kids, there are times lines come to your head. Like you wanna say something when they frustrate you. And sometimes you do let it slip and you feel bad for like a week. Right? But almost every day there’s something you wanna say that you shove deep down. I’ve walked out of rooms before I’ve been so frustrated. I remember going out and like punching a pillow on my bed, like I’m so frustrated, you know.
Like sometimes if you don’t wanna show them. So for three months every day I got to say it.
Q : [LAUGHS]
HJ : Whatever I was feeling, you know.
Q : As a dad watching the show like watching your character on screen I just really looked at Charlie and I was like — I just connected with him and the way you looked — that your character looked at Dakota. I was like, “Wow.” Is it easy to just let that genuine father emotion come out that you have? ‘Cause, uh, normally in other roles you’re either hunting [UNINTELLIGIBLE OVERLAPPING DIALOGUE] or having
HJ : Yeah, you know, I hope — first of all I played a father on screen and I found all the emotions very easy to access– like real easy. You know, it’s when you have a kid l– like the [SIGH] to this day when I see that scene where I say to Dakota I’m like, “Uh, I’m doing the best I can. What do you want from me, you know?” And he says, “I want you to fight for me. That’s all I’ve ever wanted.” And it kind of slays me. I mean just watching that scene and I think if you actually heard that from your kid. If your kid really believed you weren’t in their corner.
Right? I mean when your kid says, “Yeah, you’re the worst dad in the world. I wish I had another family life.” But if your kid actually said to you, “I never thought you were there for me,” like [INTERVIEWER INTERRUPTS]
HJ : You know, there’s one scene actually I remember I said to Shawn it wasn’t in the script per se. But, you know, my character’s fighting you know, this is a good question.
Shawn’s said to me at one point that sa– that same scene where I said, “What do you want from me?” And — and there’s that dialogue. And he says, “I think you should be angry.” And I said, “How can I be angry with him? I’m giving him up already back to Deborah.” He says, “You’re angry because this kid is making you feel.” You don’t wanna like Charlie’s somebody who doesn’t wanna feel that. He doesn’t believe in himself enough to be a father. He doesn’t wanna — he doesn’t wanna have those feelings. That’s complicated. It’s hard. It’s difficult. He doesn’t wanna fall in love with the kid because he feels he doesn’t deserve it.
He feels he can’t do that. So he kept giving me right direction. There was one scene I said, “Shawn,” I said, “When I save him from that cliff,” I said, “This is the first moment you really see him melt — a little bit.” And I said, “I think it — we should really show it. I want you to be — have that camera in there because I wanna see two months. I wanna see him instinctually just like — when I think about it I thank God that’s my boy. And I was just, you know, I thought I lost you, right? And I think that is the first thing that really cracks him.
And I said, “Then I want you to see the moment where he goes, uh-oh, alright, enough of that, right? So I said, “And soon after that I’m gonna be mad with him.” And I go [UNINTELLIGIBLE] on that thing because he’s — he’s mad that he’s felt that. Like it’s like [UNINTELLIGIBLE OVERLAPPING DIALOGUE] Yeah, I don’t wanna feel this. I don’t wanna have that, you know, ’cause it’s — we’ve all got them. It’s the most vulnerable feeling in the world being a parent. Because you just — you want nothing more than to protect these little beings from everything that life can throw at them. But, you know, to a certain degree you can only do so much, you know. And it’s — it’s hard. And anyway, you guys know all that.
Q : Did you feel, um, I said this to the director. And I kinda felt like he was kinda like, alright. But I felt there was a strong parallel between the relationship between Logan and Marie. And in this relationship between Charlie and Max.
HJ : Yeah.
Q : Because when you meet Rogue in “X-Men”, you’re like, “Get away from me! I don’t like you.” And then you get into that little accident and you’re all like a little worried about her. Then by the end you’re willing to give your life to save her.
HJ : Yeah.
Q : And then in this it’s kinda the same way and you’re like, “I don’t want you. Uh.” And then at the end you’re kinda like, “OK, now I like you.”
HJ : Look, uh, yes, there is something in that. I mean it — it comes from a different [INTERVIEWER INTERRUPTS]
Q : This is like a [UNINTELLIGIBLE] question. [LAUGHS]
HJ : [UNINTELLIGIBLE OVERLAPPING DIALOGUE] Coming from a different background I think what I like about this movie and probably what is similar is that people– that characters for different reasons who don’t wanna connect. They don’t — it’s hard. Charlie wants to stay turned off because when you open yourself up to life, when you fall in love, when you have children, you are vulnerable.
That’s — that’s the definition of it. You’re vulnerable. You are open. You feel everything. You get frustrated. You feel unbelievable love. You feel warmth. You feel everything. And if things go badly, like, you know, I don’t even wanna go there. But if things go badly, how do you recover from that? It’s sometimes easier to actually not be in a relationship. I g– I got mates like that. Never really been in a relationship.
And I know it’s just they’re terrified of what would happen if they get hurt like to get — or don’t want kids. Oh, it’s better to not have kids. You know, look at the world around us. Let’s not bring kids into it. I know they’re just terrified, right. So Wolverine is the same. He’s — doesn’t want to, but he gets kind of drawn in by the innocence of the kid. So if anyone breaks him down it’s — it’s those kids. And for slowly here you see like on the cliff edge.
That’s a kid, you know. And he — he They’re vulnerable and th– they need you. And that’s that kind of is what breaks him down. That’s it. I get the parallel.
Q : Good. Thank you.
HJ : Shawn just — Shawn just doesn’t like hearing about [UNINTELLIGIBLE OVERLAPPING DIALOGUE].
Q : Were you say more intimidated with the father/son aspect or the boxing and getting in shape?
HJ : The father/son.
Q : Father/son?
HJ : Yeah. You know, I’ve done a lot of action movies. And if you think about it in this movie, uh, it’s an action movie I suppose on one level where I don’t really do any action. So, you know, it’s — it’s although I love that last scene. And I worked very hard at the boxing with Sugar Ray Leonard and with his — not only was it important that I looked like a boxer, but more important you see the emotion come through. You see someone — I love that moment of Dakota looking at his father coming to life.
You know, and I’ve had a couple of friends who back in Australia they’re like, “Oh, you know, I really wanna do x-y-z. But I got the mortgage to pay and I’ve got this. And I — I hate what I do, but I need to kinda do that.” And I’m like, “Look. Sure, you’ve gotta put food on the table for your kid. You gotta pay the mortgage. We understand that. But what greater gift can you give to your kid then showing them that you love what you do?” Is there anything even if you earn half of what you earn.Your kid is gonna — that’s way better to show your kid. They’re gonna prefer that than to have the latest Nikes, you know.
Q : Right.
HJ : So I love that scene where you see someone thinking it’s over, right. And he loves boxing. No one’s interested. It’s over. Coming to life again. Like it’s like a rebirth. You know, so that was — scene was really important to me. But overall the father and son and how do we — I mean this — this movie — I mean it’s a Dreamworks movie. It’s — it’s distributed by Disney and he sells his son in the first ten minutes. [LAUGHS]
Whoa. This is — this is not gonna be easy, you know. I wo– I wonder how this is gonna — how do we kind of it’s a redemption. So you have to take him this far. In order to redeem him. But how — you just don’t wanna go over the edge where audiences go, “You know what? I’m checked out. I hate this guy and I’m never gonna like him.” You know.
Q : What did you wanna be when you were growing up?
HJ : [LAUGHS] The first thing I wanted to be was like my dad, an accountant. I didn’t know what an accountant was, but I’m — I knew my dad was — he had his own secretary. And more importantly, he had, uh, he had a pretty — I thought a pretty important office. And there was this little room down the hall which had chocolate biscuits in it. You know what I mean? Dad say You can go in there whenever you want and grab it. I said, “You just grab biscuits whenever you want?”
I thought, “This is the best job in the world. Plus he traveled — my dad traveled a lot for his business. So I kind of thought this was — that’s what I wanted to be. Then I went on my very first plane trip when I was 12. And my brother and I were — we went to New Zealand for a holiday with my dad and family. Uh, my dad we went in a camper van. Uh, what do you call a camper van here?
Q :You mean like an R.V.? An R.V. — yeah.
HJ : Small R.V. Trust me — in a camper van. It was five kids and my father. And we averaged six hours of driving a day ’cause my dad’s just like an animal. Let’s go. It was brutal on that trip. But on the plane trip they came down with these trolleys. And out came this hot food. I was like, “Who’s cooking this food?”
I was like, “Maybe I could do that.” I wanna be a chef on a plane.I cooked from when I was eight. So there was five kids. So once a week you cooked the dinner and once a week you did the school lunches, once a week you cooked the breakfast right? And did — so it was very simple. We all had to cook. So I — I was competent as a cook by then. And I was like, “Awesome. I’m gonna travel and cook.”
I was very disappointed to find out there was a microwave [UNINTELLIGIBLE OVERLAPPING DIALOGUE].
Q : So if you don’t mind they would love to take a group photo with you.
HJ : Yes, of course. Yeah, let’s do it!
***Disclosure: I attend the #DisneyDreamWorksEvent and Disney paid for my flight, hotel, and expenses, but my thoughts and opinions are my own.***