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Hugh Jackman Talks About 'Australia'

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Hugh Jackman Talks About 'Australia'

Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman in 'Australia.'

© 20th Century Fox
This year's Sexiest Man Alive, Hugh Jackman, stars with fellow Aussie Nicole Kidman in Baz Luhrmann's epic tale Australia. Jackman plays a cattle drover (his character's never called by a real name – just 'The Drover') who helps a widowed land owner drive her 2,000 cattle over hundreds of miles through treacherous conditions, all while the continent's wealthiest cattle baron tries to stop them by any means necessary.

But before Jackman could discuss his movie at the film's Los Angeles press conference, that Sexiest Man Alive title had to be addressed. George Clooney says he actively campaigned for the 2007 title winner – Matt Damon - so did Jackman have anyone campaigning for him? "I had Baz and CM [Catherine Martin] on my side, which did help a lot," replied Jackman. "And I think we ran a very strong campaign and I’m not proud of it – I can admit it now. We’re the first campaign to run a negative campaign and we spent years bringing Clooney, Pitt, Damon, McConaughey all down to size. And then I was prepared to do absolutely anything."

Hugh Jackman Australia Press Conference

Did you want The Drover to be shirtless the whole movie?
Hugh Jackman: "There's a kind of great moment when we were shooting the shower scene as it's called now, the Outback Shower, which by the way historically is absolutely accurate. That's exactly the technique they used. But of course, as you know from seeing the movie, Baz was going for many styles and in a way a movie that is a feast, that has high comedy, it has high tragedy, it has romance, swashbuckling moments. It has action and it has adventure, it has everything. And so when we were shooting that scene, I remember saying to Baz, I said, 'Baz, are you sure this is not too much? Are they going to laugh in the right way? They're going to think I'm a wanker here.' And he says, 'If we're strong and we really commit to the moment, the comedy of it will rise.' There were a couple members of the crew who took their shirts off after the first little break, one of which oiled himself up a little bit, so trust me, I got a lot of hell about that scene when we were down there."

"It might've been a lot cooler having my shirt off for a lot of the movie because it was hot. I remember the very first scene we shot…was a scene, the triumphant return, when we bring the cattle to Darwin, so it was the end all of the drove. And I had what's called a dry as a bone, which is an all weather coat. …But inside this coat, it goes down to like your knees, is a lining, a thick padded lining. I had a woolen shirt on and leather pants and I almost fainted that Thursday of filming. Poor CM, who had obviously designed me to be wearing this coat because we're shooting the end of it and I was meant to be wearing it then for the rest of the movie, the whole drove. She beautifully, thank goodness [she] did, decided to adjust my wardrobe for the rest of it. Ice packs. … That was a little bit of my pride and fault, to be honest, because it was the first day on the horse and we're shooting out in Bowen and trust me, we're shooting in a place where it's the real deal out there. As an actor, you don't want to be poncing about with the umbrella above your head and doing this, pounding my Evian and all of this sort of thing. So I sat on the horse and the first AD said, 'Baz'll be ready in about five minutes.' I said, 'No, man, I'm fine. I'll stay on the horse.' A half hour later, 'Listen, it might be another five.' 'No, no problem.' After that half an hour, I felt this hand in my back and I said, 'What are you doing, mate? I'm fine.' And he says, 'No, you're not. You're at a 45 degree angle to the horse. He's kind of holding you like this.' I said, 'Yeah, I might need 10 minutes. CM, can I talk to you about this coat?'"

How was it having to kiss your friend, Nicole Kidman?
Hugh Jackman: "Well, I’ve known Nicole for a long time. To give you some context, when she first came to Hollywood, she lived with my wife. My wife was living here already, so she sort of moved in and until she moved in with Tom [Cruise], she was living with Deb. So they were very, very close friends and still are very close friends. It’s sort of like, 'Oh, my wife is really good mates with her,' so I’ve seen her at a lot of parties and all of that, but it wasn’t until this film that we truly got to know each other and sort of become, independent of my wife, really good friends. Nicole is an amazing person to work with. She has a very mercurial quality and in the best sense of the word, there’s a kind of danger about Nicole where no matter how much you know her, there’s always going to be something surprising. There’s always going to be something a little unpredictable that will keep you on your toes. She’s also very generous, incredibly hard working and a very funny actor."

"And on the kissing thing, Baz quite likes sunsets and kissing, don't you? So we ended up kissing quite a lot. The true answer to that is that it was not the toughest day at the office! However, it’s never particularly comfortable making out with someone in front of 70 people. That’s really not something that turns me on. I know it does for some, but in terms of the intimacy and what was important, Nic and I talked about it separately from Baz. We said, 'Okay, we need to really take this seriously. We need to really portray this romance and the passion and the heat between the two and even though we know each other…' That’s the biggest trap, really. For actors, sometimes you can know someone too well and all of the heat goes out of the room and you’re too familiar. I won’t give you any of the details of that conversation, but it was a really adult and open discussion. And thankfully, when I saw the movie for the first time, my wife was next to me and that very first kiss, which is quite a long, lingering, slow kiss – and just after it, Deb leaned over to me and said, 'That – was – great!' So if your wife can give you the thumbs up, you know you’re on the right track."

Page 2: More on That Kiss and How He Connected with the Film's Horses

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