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SAN SEBASTIAN, Spain – Hugh Jackman spoke about knowing when to call it quits with a role, the cathartic power of dramas and how his dark role in Prisoners affected his parenting Friday at the 61st San Sebastian International Film Festival.
He also dished about his time spent as Wolverine and a Spider-Man cameo that nearly happened a decade ago.
Speaking to a packed hall of journalists hours before he picked up the festival’s Donostia Award for lifetime achievement, Jackman said he was “humbled and honored” by the award, while stumbling over its pronunciation.
“My wife Deborra-Lee Furness won the Silver Shell here in San Sebastian in 1991 for her role in Waiting, so we’re going to just call it the Jackman-Furness Award if that’s alright with you,” he said.
Jackman is set to receive the award at a special screenings of Prisoners Friday.
Playfully, the actor told journalists he swam at the beach in San Sebastian and rode his bike all around town undisturbed.
“I’m a morning person. The beach reminds me of the beach in the Sydney. I woke up at 8:30 in the morning and I swam. Rode my bike. The moral is, if you want to be left alone in San Sebastian, wake up early,” he said.
But when questions turned to his career and his roles, Jackman got serious.
“Great parts always outgrow the actors that play them. If you forget that, it’s at your own peril,” he said, adding that eventually he will have to leave all his roles, including Wolverine, behind. “They are working on it [X-Men] now, and it would have to be very compelling for me to do it again. I’ve been doing it for 10 years,” he said.
When asked repeatedly about switching comic characters from Wolverine to another superhero or joining in on a dual comic book movie, Jackman said it wasn’t up to him.
“The great thing about comic books is that they threw Batman in with Wolverine or Spiderman. I have people ask me all the time, ‘Do you think Spider-Man can beat Wolverine?’ It’s part of the DNA,” Jackman said. “Marvel wanted me to do a cameo in the first Spider-Man, but I couldn’t find my suit. I could have turned up before it was such a big deal. But I don’t have that kind of power to make it happen.”
In town with Prisoners director Denis Villeneuve, Jackman said playing such a desperate, troubled character made him reflect on his own parenting. “Of course it makes you think about how you are preparing your kids. It’s very difficult as a father. But you want your kids to go out in the world and be fearless,” he said.
The actor said that playing such a grueling role left him fatigued, but comfortable.
“The job is to pretend as convincingly as you can,” he said. ” A lot of people think that means you have to dive into yourself, but I feel it’s diving into the people around you, the other actors and the director. And when I come home, I feel like I’ve played a game of rugby and have a bath and I’m fine. It is cathartic.”
Jackman added: “The question is, why do people go to see dark dramas, or make them? We have collective fears that we push down for day-to-day life. But we go to movies because it allows us to experience the full range of our emotions and exercise the emotions we don’t use all the time. It’s cathartic.”
Jackman joked about staring into the “abyss of fear” just before stepping onstage to host the Oscars, and about being a sex symbol.
“Here’s the thing about being a sex symbol,” he said. “No one was looking at me when I was 16 thinking of me as the sexiest man alive. Why doesn’t it come when you need it, when you’re 20, 21? Not when you’ve been married for 15 years, and you wake up in the morning and say ‘Hey baby,’ and she says, ‘Take out the garbage.'”
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