The X Factor: Hugh Jackman

From his musical stage work to his role in the 'X-Men' franchise, the actor refuses to be type cast

Every actor has his coulda-woulda-shoulda moments, but few are as tantalizing as Hugh Jackman's.

He coulda starred in "Chicago," but turned it down only to see it win the 2003 best picture Oscar; he woulda played James Bond, but producers opted for Daniel Craig instead; and he shoulda passed on playing Wolverine in Fox's "X-Men" franchise -- at least if he'd followed his wife's advice.

Mercifully, he didn't. The mutant superhero character has propelled Jackman to the upper ranks of international stardom, after a series of notable performances in pictures that disappointed at the boxoffice. Such movies as 2001's "Swordfish" and "Kate & Leopold" and 2004's "Van Helsing" didn't quite cement Jackman in the public's mind, even though he held his own opposite such co-stars as Halle Berry, Meg Ryan and Kate Beckinsale. With 2006's "The Fountain" and "The Prestige," Jackman worked with acclaimed helmers Darren Aronofsky and Christopher Nolan, but superstardom still eluded the charming Aussie.

Nothing quite clicked until "X-Men." The question is why?

One reason is that Jackman -- who will print his hands and feet at Hollywood's Grauman's Chinese Theatre today -- had the bad luck to catch Aronofsky just before 2008's "The Wrestler" and Nolan in between Batman stints. (We can only imagine what Jackman's track record would be if Nolan had flipped his "Prestige" stars and cast Jackman as the Dark Knight instead of Christian Bale.)

Another reason has to do with Jackman himself. In some ways, he's the anti-movie star: He sings, dances, hosts, produces, acts in TV and theater -- and he also does tentpole feature films. He's a man of many skills, a protean creature whose diversity of talents defy a cookie-cutter career track.

In the wake of his well-received hosting performance at this year's Academy Awards ceremony, we've glimpsed how varied Jackman's talents are. What remains to be seen is which one he'll be remembered for.