How would you describe your new fantasy film, Pan?
Hugh Jackman: I’m really excited about Pan. This is the prequel to Peter Pan; it’s an original story. It’s a very smart film with a lot of heart. Joe Wright is a fabulous English director who’s done films like Anna Karenina and Atonement, and he has a brilliant visual sense. He’s a great storyteller.
Why do you gravitate towards larger-than-life characters like Blackbeard, Wolverine and soon-to-be Barnum?
Oh, it’s the natural showman in me. I grew up falling in love with musical theatre and once you have that in your blood you love playing roles that have this theatrical quality. It’s a chance to let yourself go completely and step into these fantastic characters who transport you and the audience into a different reality. I love the sense of spectacle and wonder of all that.
You seem to have such a natural gift as an actor and as a song-and-dance man. Where does that spirit come from?
Some people have a gift for that and I think that was always part of me. There’s this side of me that likes putting myself out there as a showman and being able to entertain people. Performing is in my blood and there’s nothing better than the feeling of being able to connect with an audience and realise that you’ve been able to transport them to where you’re both in the same place, where the outside world kind of disappears and time stands still.
You’re known for being easy-going. Does it get tiring to be seen as a nice guy all the time?
I’ve always valued the notion of being a gentleman and treating people with respect. My father is a very proper Englishman and he taught me the value of respect and chivalry and having a sense of honour. I find it so much more enjoyable to try to embrace the kinder and gentler sides of one’s personality. I lose my temper very rarely and, when I do, I really feel miserable afterwards. But never with my wife Deb and never with my kids. Although when they misbehave, you learn to control your emotions and exercise as much self-control and reason as you possibly can. It’s better to tell your kids that they are driving you crazy and being impossible than to yell at them. Repressing the urge to yell at your kids when they’re driving you crazy – that’s where my greatest acting skills come into play! (Laughs)
We know you’ve been asked this before, but being married for 20 years as a film star is quite a rarity. What’s the secret for such longevity in a marriage?
The biggest thing is to find the right person with whom you can be happy and evolve together in life. If you get that part wrong, nothing is going to change that over the long run. I was pretty insecure in many ways when I met Deb, but she’s been blessed with a natural kind of confidence that was beyond anything I could imagine. I just felt that about her immediately and I knew that I wanted to be with her. But she wasn’t attracted to me as fast as I was [to her]. It took a while before I convinced her I was the man for her. It’s been a beautiful journey together ever since.
You’ve managed to keep your personal life private despite being a global celebrity. How do you manage that?
I’m lucky that I’m a fairly boring person in real life. When I’m not working, I’m with my family. That’s my life. Deb deserves a lot of credit because she tries to make sure I don’t talk too much about our family life in public. She knows that I can be pretty talkative and it’s impossible for me to keep a secret! (Laughs)
You come from a large family. Are you very competitive?
Not as an actor. I look on acting and film-making as a very collaborative process and I don’t look at films strictly from my character’s viewpoint. I’ve never wanted to be the biggest star on earth. I love acting and I’m interested in the work and the kind of stories I’m able to help bring to audiences. But, if we’re talking about sport, then I’m the most competitive guy around. I like winning! (Laughs)
Is it fun or annoying being considered a sex symbol?
Oh, it’s not annoying at all! [Laughs again.] I don’t mind it. But I think if people knew me, they would know that the one thing that I would like to be remembered for is being the most loving and caring husband and father. I work very hard, but everything I do is to provide the best possible life for Deb and our kids.
Pan is out today in the UK and Ireland. Watch the trailer here:
Words: Interview Hub