Prestige, The–Hugh Jackman

In this time when magicians were the great entertainers of their age, no one else can rivet an audience with the charm and pizzazz of the consummate showman Robert Angier. But when a stage tragedy strikes close to Angiers heart, it pushes him to invent his greatest trick ever, one that will take him into realms of scientific discovery and magical deception no one could have imagined. To play Angier, Christopher Nolan immediately thought of Hugh Jackman, the multitalented Australian who has become a major star of both stage and screen. Jackman is known to millions of young fans for his screen portrayal of the hugely popular superhero Wolverinean angst-filled mutant with animal-keen sensesbut he is also a Tony Award winner for his showstopping performance as songwriter Peter Allen in The Boy From Oz and an Emmy Award winner for his hosting of the televised Tony Awards show.

It was Jackmans unique mix of innate cool along with his sophisticated showmanship that convinced Nolan he was the only person who could bring out both the theatrical brilliance and the thirst for vengeance at the heart of Angier. He also seemed like the perfect persona to create a chain reaction of fierce competition and rivalry with Christian Bale.

Says Nolan: When Hugh gets on stage, he truly comes to life. Hes extraordinarily comfortable being up there and so knowledgeable about his relationship with the audience. Thats exactly what this character neededand Hugh presents Angier with a sincerity thats extremely winning.

Upon reading the script, Jackman was hooked. He was drawn to Angiers journeywhich takes him from the bright lights of success to the darkest shadows of the human soul. At the beginning of the story, Angier is very optimistic, hopeful and energetic, he observes. His main strength as a magician is as a performer. He simply loves being in front of a crowd. He has an ease and a panache and a great sort of way with the audience. In fact, to be somewhat critical of him, you could say that his style is sometimes far greater than his content.

But then Angier meets Alfred Borden and everything in his life changes. It irks me to even say this, but Borden is technically a much better magician, Jackman begrudgingly admits. My character can sell a trick to an audience with far more skill, but Borden is a kind of inventive genius. When things go wrong between them, Angier has two conflicting responses. On the one hand, he begins to loathe Borden, to hate him, to want vengeance for what he has done, but on the other, he is driven by a competitive obsession to be better than Borden. So all of Angiers anger and hate, all his darkness and sadness become focused on one thingfinding out Bordens secrets.

To prepare to play Angier, Jackman conducted his own research into the colorful history of magic, from its creative heyday in the early 1900s till now. I found it to be an incredibly mysterious and interesting world, he says. There is something about magicians that makes them different from non-magicians. They do everything alone, because they dont want to share their secrets, and they are intensely competitive. Theyre fascinating people, which makes them great characters.

The more he learned, the more Jackman began to see that magicians share elements in common with both conmen and scientists, two mainstays of contemporary society. Great magic is all about misdirection and illusion, the same skills a conman needs, he says. But just as scientists are obsessed with the things humans cant yet understand, magicians tap into that. Whats great about THE PRESTIGE is that it melds the mystical, the magical and the idea of the impossible with elements of science and reality.

As for Angier, Jackman believes he is addicted to the audiences stunned reactions. He loves seeing that look in their faces of being fooled. For him, it taps into that human quality of hope and faith, that feeling that the impossible can actually happen. He is driven by that power, the actor says.

Watching Jackman bring Angier, and his many different sides, to life was a revelation for Nolan, one that would be echoed again with Christian Bales performance. It was really interesting to see how both Hugh and Christian took the ideas behind the way magicians really think and work, and each made these their own, reconciling them with their own way of looking at the world, he summarizes.

Hugh Jackman's Career

Hugh Jackman's most recently reprised his role as Logan/Wolverine in X-Men: The Last Stand, the third installment of the X-Men franchise. He made his first major U.S. film appearance in the first X-Men movieand this stellar debut led to leading roles in Someone Like You, Swordfish and Kate and Leopold, for which he received a 2002 Golden Globe nomination.

Jackman reprised his role as Logan/Wolverine in X2 and went on to star in the blockbuster Van Helsing. In addition to THE PRESTIGE, he stars this year in Woody Allens Scoop and Darren Aronofskys The Fountain. On stage, for his portrayal of the 1970s singer-songwriter Peter Allen in The Boy From Oz, Jackman received the 2004 Tony Award for Best Actor in a musical as well as Drama Desk, Drama League, Outer Critics Circle and Theatre World awards. His previous theater credits include: Carousel at Carnegie Hall, Oklahoma! at the National Theater in London (Olivier Award nomination), Sunset Boulevard (MO AwardAustralias Tony Award) and Disneys Beauty and the Beast (MO Award nomination). Jackmans career began in Australia in the independent films Paperback Hero and Erskineville Kings (Australian Film Critics Circle Best Actor award and The Australian Film Institute Best Actor nomination). In 1999, he was named Australian Star of the Year at the Australian Movie Convention.