This weekend Hugh Jackman was on hand in Los Angeles to discuss his robot boxing movie, “Real Steel,” which hits theaters October 7th. Early buzz on that flick is good and the studio has enough faith that they’ve already begun development on a sequel. But before that sequel, Jackman will sing alongside Russell Crowe in “Les Miserables” and, once again, return to the role that made him for “The Wolverine,” the much-discussed, long in-development sequel to 2009’s “X-Men Origins: Wolverine.” Scripted by Christopher McQuarrie, the story is based on Frank Miller’s beloved ‘80s Japanese saga from the comics.
During our discussion with Jackman, we peppered in as much Wolverine talk as we could muster and he was a good sport. It’s clear that after four features and a cameo as everyone’s favorite foul-mouthed, mutton-chopped curmudgeon, he’s not quite ready to hang up the adamantium claws just yet.
Here’s what we learned about Wolverine’s future.
1. “The Wolverine” will go next for Jackman after he finishes “Les Miserables.”
“If it wasn’t for ‘Les Mis,’ we’re ready now,” Jackman told the gathered press. “Now that Jim [Mangold]’s on board, we’re ready to go. For ‘Les Mis’ to work, we would have had to start “Wolverine,” basically, yesterday. So when we needed to press the button, we weren’t quite ready. So it will happen straight after."
2. What happened to Darren Aronofsky?
“His personal life precluded him from making the movie,” explains Jackman. “I asked him to do ‘X-Men 3,’ I asked him to do ‘Wolverine’ one and he said, ‘It’s not so much for me.’ And then he read this and said, ‘Man, I’m in. This is the best comic movie script I’ve ever read’ and he’s been dying to do one for a long time.”
3. What made James Mangold the right choice?
Jackman says there was no shortage of directors willing to throw their hats into the pool as Aronofsky’s replacement. But it was Mangold who had the best handle on the material. “Many directors wanted to do this film, I’m happy to say, because of the strength of the script. When he came in he just had such a clear vision of where this movie should go. He had the best take. He’s done many, many genres. I look at ‘3:10 to Yuma,’ and when he started talking about ‘The Outlaw Josey Wales’ I was like, ‘Okay, now we’re on the right track.” He had a couple of things which, I think, even in Darren’s version of the script, hadn’t been solved that he just knew he had the key.”
4. Mark Bomback’s recent re-write work is not an overhaul, but more of a polish on McQuarrie’s script.
“When a director takes over any script,” says Jackman, “they need to make it their movie. So Jim hired Mark to help him make the movie his own. Darren had worked on the script himself and taken it in a certain direction that was right for him. And that would have been a great version of the movie. I’ve seen Jim’s version now and, you know, Jim saw things that weren’t working for him that were working for Darren. And I’ve got to hand it to Fox and to Jim, it’s easy when you start with the best script we’ve had from Chris McQuarrie. Which is why Darren signed on. So once you have that, that’s 80, 85 percent of your movie.
5. ‘The Wolverine’ is based on Miller’s Japanese saga, but it will not be an exact translation.
“It’s a little darker and, I think, a little more true to the character," Jackman stressed. "If you read all of [the Japanese saga] there is a lot of it that is a little disparate and some of it’s got X-Men in it. There’s a wedding and all that. So we take license with that.”
6. Jackman’s cameo in “X-Men: First Class” was all about the F-bomb.
“They asked me to do that cameo a year before I did it and I said, ‘All right, pitch me the concept,’ " Jackman recalled. "They did and I liked it. I said, ‘Is anyone else swearing in the movie?’ and they said, ‘We don’t think so.’ I said, ‘Promise me no one else swears in the movie and I’m in.’ 50 percent of Wolverine’s dialogue should be ‘fuck.’ That feels right for me. And actually that particular take was an ad-lib I did at the end. There was more secrecy to shooting that than I have ever known. I actually checked into the hotel and they had no reservation under Jackman. I was under some comic book name I had never even heard of.”
So might Jackman pop up in a ‘First Class’ sequel? “If they come up with as good of an idea as last time,” Jackman says with a big smile, “Yeah, I could see it.”
7. He isn’t tired of Wolvy just yet.
“I love that character," he said. "It was the first film I did in America and somehow I lucked upon the greatest of all the superhero roles. His human dilemmas and demons and battles feel more real. I don’t feel like a guy with claws and ridiculous hair. I feel like a guy battling against life.”
8. “X-Men 4” probably won’t happen, but “The Wolverine” might not be the character’s swan song.
“I don’t see it. I can only see one movie ahead," he said deflating hopes of a 4th "X-Men" film, despite talk in recent years by the producers of making one more. "I’m pretty sure I’m well into the second half of this match. I don’t know exactly when the end is, but I only go one at a time. If this is the last one, fingers crossed, man, I just hope we finally get that hole in one."