X-Men Origins: Wolverine – Interview with star Hugh Jackman

“X-Men Origins: Wolverine” starring Hugh Jackman and directed by Gavin Hood, is being released on May 1, 2009 by 20th Century Fox.

“I had more fun playing Wolverine in this film than ever before,” says Hugh Jackman. Adding to Jackman's boundless enthusiasm for the character – and for the entire X-Men universe – was his new role as a producer. Along with director Gavin Hood, as well as Jackman's producing partner in Seed Productions, John Palermo, and producers Lauren Shuler Donner and Ralph Winter, Jackman oversaw virtually every aspect of the film's pre-production, production and post-production periods. He relished the new responsibilities. “I was trained in theater, where you're involved with everything,” he explains. “By the time you go onstage opening night, you know a lot about not only your role, but about the set design, costume design, story development…everything. That excitement, knowledge and preparation are a key part of the experience.”

Perhaps the most enjoyable aspect of his duties as producer was casting. “This film has lots of great characters new to the X-Men movies,” says Jackman. “It was particularly rewarding to establish these new characters and find the right actors to play them.”

Jackman the producer certainly put Jackman the actor through his paces, including a grueling physical training regimen that left him in the best shape of his life. Although he trained hard for each of the previous X-Men films, Jackman's mantra to exceed expectations for X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE led him to achieve new levels of physical preparation. “With the previous X-Men films, I never had Logan looking exactly as I wanted him to look,” Jackman explains. “For this one, I wanted Logan to look animalistic, veins popping out, and coiled like a spring. I wanted audiences to say, 'Okay, this guy is frightening; this guy could easily rip someone's head off.”

In addition to spending countless hours in the gym, Jackman upped his protein and caloric intake to levels befitting a professional athlete. A typical day began at 4:00 a.m., when he would awaken to drink a specially prepared protein shake. Then, up for good at 6:00 a.m. for weight training, during which he would sometimes find himself staying in character to maximize his workout. “I lift twenty percent harder, heavier and longer as Wolverine, than if I train as myself,” Jackman explains, with a laugh. “As myself, I could easily say, 'Ah, that's enough [weight] training. But as Wolverine, it'd be: 'Now, I'm loving lifting the extra weight.'”

As physically imposing as Jackman became, he didn't lose the athleticism that he's brought not only to his action film roles, but to his stage work. “The camera loves Hugh,” points out producer Lauren Shuler Donner. “He has a dancer's grace – it's much more than just 'pumping up' for the role.”

“If anyone had told me there would one day be a Wolverine movie, I'd have laughed,” Jackman continues. “I had no idea of the effect that the X-Men movies would have. And I couldn't be more grateful to the fans and to the audiences.”