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Hugh Jackman Discusses "The Fountain"


Hugh Jackman Discusses "The Fountain"

Hugh Jackman stars in "The Fountain."

© Warner Bros Pictures

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A Truly Emotional Part: Hugh Jackman admits tackling his first big emotionally-charged role was a tad scary. “Well, listen, I had never felt up until this movie that I had had a script that warranted that. It’s a little frightening. It should be a little frightening for every actor, I think, otherwise it’s not challenging. But I knew it was a kind of rawness that he wanted, that would be difficult to get to. But at the same time, I felt like some of the challenges I’ve had - even at drama school, like doing plays - were bigger than the movies that I’ve been getting.

I was waiting to get a role of this [sort]. ...Erskineville Kings, the first film I ever did, had an emotional intensity, a rawness to it similar to this. But in between, there were like six, seven years where nothing had really demanded that. At the same time, you can’t just go, ‘I’ve got to do a role where I’m really emotionally pushed.’ That’s not a reason to do it. So finally I felt like I had a script that really had a lot of potential.”

Bald is Beautiful: Jackman shaved off his hair to play the Tom of the future in The Fountain. “I’d always wanted to do it because I’d always wanted to swim with a bald head,” explained Jackman, “See what it felt like. Is it weird? But I really have no attachment to my hair at all. I’ve never had the same hair once. For the last 15 years, I’ve dyed it this color, that, chopped it off. I’ve never been completely bald. I just can’t stop laughing when I see myself. I think I look like a character out of Lord of the Rings. I think I look ridiculous. It is, feeling-wise, incredible. To have a shower with a bald head is the best way to wake up. Then I found myself doing this all day long, feeling my head.”

The Audience Response to The Fountain: Jackman says he was surprised by how The Fountain polarized audiences. There’s no middle of the road reaction from viewers. “I was surprised. I shouldn’t have been in a way because it’s a Darren Aronofsky movie. It’s probably always going to polarize. I was surprised that people would be vehemently against it because I’d think even if you didn’t get it or it’s not your cup of tea, there’s such an artistry even on a technical level that I would have thought people would appreciate that. But then again, this is a movie. It’s a love story, it’s a movie about death, life and love. This is going to touch nerves with people. I remember thinking, ‘Oh, this is actually probably a good thing.’”

Jackman added, “(The Fountain) is probably different to what Darren’s done before, so people were not expecting that. I think there’s a real purity; it’s a very romantic film. And even though it deals with difficult subjects, it’s probably uncomfortable at times. But the best story that never got printed out of Venice, that infamous screening where certain people booed or they whistled, it actually broke into a fight. There were fisticuffs down in the front between two of the people. For a filmmaker, that’s the Holy Grail, right? That’s awesome.”

On Woody Allen, Christopher Nolan and Darren Aronofsky: Jackman worked with Allen on Scoop, Nolan on The Prestige, and, of course, Aronofsky on The Fountain. Commenting on his three recent directors Jackman said, “They’ve all got very different qualities. Woody leaves you alone a lot to do your own thing. He offers just a little bit of direction, and then he just keeps reshooting. If he doesn’t like it, he reshoots it and then says what he wants.

Chris is very low key, in a Woody Allen-ish kind of way. Very laid back, low key. He’s very prepared. He’s a great communicator, Chris. He has a way of telling you one thing that will completely transform a scene for you, and yet leading you to do your own thing.

Darren, we worked together for a year. We were [together] every week, we would meet once or twice and increasingly as we got up to the filming. He was there by the monitor, by the camera, and it worked. He had that film in his head for six years. He knew every shot. He knew everything that was going on. And yet, he loved that moment of creation, seeing what would happen. It was very interesting.

He would run the camera, just put a mag on and roll - never cut. Because he hated that moment, which is true, you call cut, someone comes in to fix the hair, then while someone’s fixing the hair the lighting guy goes, ‘Yeah, I might just change that light.’ All of a sudden, everyone finds something to do so every time you cut, it’s 10 minutes. So he just kept rolling the film. A mag’s about 12 minutes, 10-12 minutes. He’d run it for 10-12 minutes and then put another mag on and just go again. And sometimes you’d be acting… I mean, it took him four weeks, I think, three or four weeks just to view the footage when he finished.”

Next Up – A Romantic Epic with Baz Luhrmann: “Baz is a bit of a Darren sort of school. We’re rehearsing now. We have six weeks of rehearsal before we shoot. We do a workshop in December for a week and we’ve been working on a lot of… I did a lot of horse riding in it. Even though I can ride a horse, I have to go to another level with this which I’m excited about. He’s full on. I really love that. I love working with all of them and it’s really whetted my appetite for working with directors like that, that is auteurs, visionaries, who have very strong opinions of what they want.”

What’s Happening with Wolverine?: No matter what film Jackman’s promoting he always gets asked about the Wolverine movie. And Jackman always graciously responds with updates. “I said I’d give you the director, didn’t I? It is out to directors and no, I haven’t heard anything. It’s hard because you can’t… We’re approaching very A-list directors so you can’t give it to 20 of them at once.”

What about any X-Men cameos? Grinning, Jackman revealed, “It’s a prequel, so there won’t be many. There will be other new characters.”

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