Hugh Jackman cover story - ELLE Men China
Writer / Producer: Dana Poblete
Photographer: Warwick Saint
Stylist: Anna Bingemann
Co-Producer: Ashley Heaton
We comb through the racks of Louis Vuitton, Prada, and Burberry and Hugh Jackman shows up casually bundled in a quilted down coat and toting a backpack. At 6’2”, and with that movie-star handsomeness, I already know that he’s going to carry off the debonair looks we’ve chosen. His energy is palpable and contagious. He knows everyone’s name, and the mood is constantly convivial. The man is a pure entertainer, but with a very rare down-to-earth charm. One moment he looks to the camera with the gritty, enraged look of Wolverine in his eyes, and the next those eyes quint in genuine laughter as he reveals his panache with Fred Astaire–style dance moves to “Happy” by Pharrell Williams. Hugh Jackman is definitely much closer to the latter, personality-wise. When you hear that he’s the nicest guy in the world, it’s no exaggeration. .
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DP: Did you ever scare yourself having to play Wolverine or other characters that were seemingly so different from you, personality-wise?
HJ: No. My belief is what happens in life is we narrow ourselves. We start to work out, ‘I don’t want to be like that. This isn’t how I want to project myself. This isn’t how I want to be.’ But we do change ourselves all the time. We’re acting all the time. We think we’re limited, but it’s just our choice. I have to believe that any range of emotion is possible. If I didn’t believe that, I’d find it hard to act in the first place. Some [emotions] are going to be easier for me than others, but I have to think that anything is possible and all of that is about staying open.
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DP: What was it like to adapt a Broadway musical, “Les Miserables” to the screen?
HJ: It’s so iconic. It’s daunting to play Jean Valjean because he’s one of the most—in literary terms—iconic characters; but in musical theater terms, uber-iconic. First audition I ever did I sang a song from “Les Mis.” So in that way it’s daunting because you know what it means to so many people because I know what it means to me. What was challenging, was we were singing live so there was no chance to go back the day after and sing the song again that you had to perform on that day. I’d wake up in the morning and for three or four of those days I remember very clearly thinking when I get back to bed tonight and I put my head on that pillow again, I may never sing that song again. And it’s that excitement of the big day, but also the pressure.
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DP: What is something very few people know about you?
HJ: That I literally run marathons in my sleep. I’m like a guppy out of the water, flopping around. My wife just kicks me back sometimes. Thankfully, she’s the heaviest sleeper.
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