- RatedPG /GenreFantasy
Van Helsing, Jean Valjean, a singing penguin called Memphis, Robert Angier the magician, Wolverine – his most iconic role – and now a pirate called Blackbeard.
Australian actor Hugh Jackman is perhaps one of those rare few actors who are so difficult to typecast and pigeonhole; and audiences just gets his take on things.
So what is his secret? A can-do attitude.
The 46-year-old actor told inSing Movies that he relishes every role he plays whether it’s the good guy or the bad guy.
Screenwriter Jason Fuchs, actors Garrett Hedlund, Levi Miller, Rooney Mara, Hugh Jackman, and director Joe Wright
“You know how kids play with toys and they play both heroes and villains, and just enjoys it – that is how it is for me,” Jackman quipped.
He added: “When I studied acting in Australia, show-business there is a very small community. There was no luxury in saying that you just want to do action movies because there might be just one action-movie made every few years, and the same goes for theatre, comedy, etc…
“When I studied, no matter what the class was, I always treated it as a job – whether it was clowning, Shakespeare or musical theatre. I figured that I just had to do my best in everything I do. And it turns out that having variety is the one thing that what I love most about my job.”
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After audiences saw a different side to Jackman when he played a villainous robotics engineer in Neill Blomkamp’s ‘Chappie’, he continued his evil streak with the deliciously evil child-snatching pirate Blackbeard in the Peter Pan origin story ‘Pan’.
“It’s every boy’s dream to play a pirate!” said Jackman.
‘Pan’, directed by British director Joe Wright (‘Hanna’, ‘Atonement’), is a live-action prequel to the story of Peter Pan first published in 1911 by J. M. Barrie under the original title ‘Peter and Wendy’.
Jackman said he looks at villains like the Wicked Witch of the West for inspiration for the role | Photo: Warner Bros
It has since seen many adaptations – books, comics, radio shows, plays, TV versions, video games, operas – and, of course, movies.
In the original book, Blackbeard – who is based on a real British pirate who terrorised the islands around the West Indies in the late 1600s and early 1700s – is only mentioned once: that Hook is a “boatswain to Blackbeard”. That, of course, was enough for Jackman to craft the role.
“I kept thinking about the Wicked Witch of the West. I remember as a kid, being terrified and intrigued by that character. Blackbeard is a multi-dimensional character. Sometimes you will find little bit crazy, over the top, funny and at times serious and sinister,” he said.
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In Jackman’s capable hands, Blackbeard is as treacherous as they come – a classic panto villain with a dash of modern Hollywood swagger who has a penchant for singing to Nirvana and The Ramones.
Lest we forget, Jackman is as at home playing the antagonist as a claw-wielding mutant as well as a dashing Casanova (remember 'Kate & Leopold'?). Also. he was nominated for an Oscar for his role in ‘Les Misérables’ in 2013, and won a Tony for ‘The Boy from Oz’.
The versatile actor is set to play master showman P.T. Barnum in musical-biopic ‘The Greatest Showman on Earth’.
“I don’t remember ever being bored as an actor. Ever!” he exclaimed.
Jackman and co-star Levi Miller in 'Pan' | Photo: Warner Bros
‘Pan’ also stars another Australian, newcomer Levi Miller, as 12-year-old orphan Peter, living at a London orphanage when he's whisked away to the fantastical world of Neverland.
“He’s just a natural,” Jackman said of his young co-star. “You never catch him acting; he’s just completely present and relaxed playing this character who is a fish out of water, and very frightened. But you feel the beginning of the Peter Pan chutzpah, that mischievous, cheeky, playful Pan we know,” he observed.
In Neverland, Peter makes a new friend, James Hook (Garrett Hedlund) – yes, that Captain Hook, before they became mortal enemies - and also meets the warrior Tiger Lily (Rooney Mara) as they all come together to save Neverland from the Blackbeard and help young Peter fulfil his destiny to become the great Peter Pan.
While the movie is a family friendly adventure, there is an underlying darkness to it – especially in its earlier orphanage setting and the kidnapping pirates – which Jackman assures parents are all inherent in fairy tales.
“This is a fairy tale and they exist as ways for kids to cope with their fears. Kids – and adults – have real fears. They do think that there is someone under the bed or that they might get snatched when they go to the bathroom. These stories exist for them to reflect their fears through somebody else – Peter, Hansel and Gretel—and then see the hero overcome it.”
He added: “Because children don’t have a way to reason out their fears so they need stories to get through it so you need to have some darkness in them to understand that there’s darkness in all of us.”
‘Pan’ opens 8 October 2015