Hugh Jackman: 'I'm sexier than Michael'

Done with Asia Pacific promotional duties for X-Men: Days Of Future Past, Hugh Jackman is home in New York to celebrate his son's 14th birthday.

But his presence here last week left a deep impression, especially for this reporter, who scored a photograph with the Aussie hunk.

Jackman is a huge contributor to the success of the X- franchise. Perhaps it's a sense of gratitude to the series which made him a superstar 14 years ago that fuelled his dedication to his claw-brandishing alter-ego - Wolverine.

He's the only actor in the franchise to have appeared in all the movies, the latest being his seventh outing.

"I've definitely been in more movies than the other (actors), but I don't feel that I'm the gel to the franchise," said Jackman when we met at The Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore last week.

"I may know the franchise a little bit better, but it certainly didn't feel like there was any difference between the experienced ones like Ian (McKellen) and Patrick (Stewart), and the younger cast like Jennifer (Lawrence), Michael (Fassbender) and James (McAvoy).

"They have done as many movies as I've done. I'm no more experienced or accomplished than them."

Indeed, Days contains a number of Oscar and Golden Globe winners and nominees.

Opening here tomorrow, the sequel/prequel unites the cast of the X-Men trilogy and 2011's X-Men: First Classwith a time travel plot.

Wolverine is sent back in time to prevent a dystopian future from being created. This means he needs the help younger Professor X and Magneto to stop Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage) from unleashing his army of robot Sentinels.

While Jackman humbly stated his equal standing with his cast-mates, the one-time Sexiest Man Alive did say he had an edge over a fellow cast member - in terms of sex appeal.

"Oh I'm definitely sexier than Michael!" Jackman professed when asked about facing off with the incredibly sexy Fassbender.

"I don't want to be mean to Michael but you know, there's no real competition!"

Jackman added, laughing: "Well, not really. A lot of women think Michael is a very sexy man, and that's fine with me.

"Anyone who can be sexy with a helmet like that on his head deserves the prize!"

Dinklage attested to Jackman's reputation of the nicest man in Hollywood.

"He's always so respectful to everyone and is always looking out for us. Certainly it's not because of his age - it's just the way he lives his life," said the 44-year-old who found fame on Game Of Thrones.

"He's a true gentleman and I've never been around an actor who has such tremendous sense of discipline. It shows. You don't get to have his career and play these characters without a lot of skill and discipline."

Shooting the movie's future scenes with Stewart, McKellen and Halle Berry had been "an incredible reunion" for Jackman. But Jackman admitted to "being an outsider" when shooting the 70s scenes with the First Class group.

"They're all very tight from working on their movie," said Jackman.

But it turned out that bonding with the young cast came fast and furious, thanks to their penchant for joking around the set and having a wicked game that involves BB guns.

"The number one jokester has to be Nic (Holt , who plays Beast), then Michael, Jennifer, and then McAvoy," said Jackman, laughing.

"All of them have this unbelievable knack of being able to joke and party with each other even when the cameras are rolling. And just as they call 'action', bang, they're right in there.

"I don't quite have that knack. So I'd distance myself a little bit. Those guys have a lot of fun on- and off-set."

For Dinklage, he was welcomed into the X-Men group rather painfully.

"James and Nic bought BB guns, and there was this 'war' going on the set.

"I was shot several times. They hurt. I was a chicken. I would shoot from the protection of my trailer. Josh (Helman) who plays Stryker, has some good welts on his face.

"Basically they played it so much that the make-up department banned it because they were having such a hard time trying to cover up these welts on our faces."

STOP THE GAMES

Dinklage added that Jackman, being the "parental figure", had to step in a few times to stop the games.

For Wolverine fans, it's good to know that Jackman is not too old for his adamantium claws, despite having to wake up every morning at 4am to train and keep the Wolverine physique.

He's already preparing for his third solo Wolverine outing, and there's word that Wolverine may have something to do in the next team instalment, X-Men: Apocalypse.

"I think what I'm most proud about with all these X-Men movies is that it's not just a popcorn movie," said Jackman about the legacy he wanted to leave behind.

"People love the characters. I can see Wolverine means a lot to them and he inspires them.

"Yes, it's spectacular, fun and thrilling, but it has something to say, dealing with discrimination, injustice and tolerance - that's something I'm really proud of."

joannes@sph.com.sg

This article was published on May 21 in The New Paper.

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