Occasionally you run across an actor who seems to have been acting forever, but in reality just hit his defining role early on in his career. Hugh Jackman is just such an actor. Sure, he acted in television in his native Australia, but his first film role was only in 1999. With a few exceptions, he has acted in a film every year since. In fact, most years he’s acted in multiple films. On average, he has appeared in nearly three films every year he has been acting. Of course, his most prolific year was 2006 with six films. And yet, even though his defining role typecast him somewhat, Jackman has used his skills from the stage to earn himself some credibility past the action hero stereotype. Only fifteen years into his career and Hugh Jackman has long since been an A-list actor. This week’s two films look at his diverse talents.
Length: 127 minutes / 2.12 hours
A year after appearing in his first film, Hugh Jackman was cast in the role of a lifetime. In X-Men (2000), Jackman portrayed Logan (nicknamed Wolverine), the cigar chomping, adamantium-infused-claw wielding, and fast healing mutant that made him an instant star. He has acted in this role six more times, two of which were X-Men films revolving entirely around his character (X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009) and The Wolverine (2013)). Although, most of the films pretty heavily revolved around Wolverine, so this distinction is not too impressive. At any rate, this role set him as yet another action hero. As such, he has starred in such action films as Van Helsing (2004), Chappie (2015), and Real Steel (2011), the latter two of this list just coincidentally revolving around robots. When you start your career portraying a man with a metal skeleton, robots are not far off.
Charles “Charlie” Kenton (Hugh Jackman) was once at the top of his game as a boxer. Unfortunately, when his job became obsolete due to the arrival of robotic boxers, he struggled to find his niche. While he might have been a threat in the ring as a man, he just can’t get the hang of controlling these boxing robots. Incredibly in debt, he now finds himself fighting to keep full custody of his child, Max (Dakota Goyo). Fortunately, Max takes an interest in robotic boxing, which leads the two of them to acquire a formerly famous robot to fight for them. Unfortunately, it is destroyed during its first fight. In a junkyard, they find an old, functioning sparring robot that Max convinces Charlie to get into fighting shape due to the robot’s unique ability to mimic its user’s motions. Now Charlie is essentially back in the ring and making his way up the ranks to take on the global champion.
Length: 158 minutes / 2.63 hours
Alongside his action hero persona, Jackman also has a lighter side. On screen, he has been in a few romantic films, including Kate & Leopold (2001), Scoop (2006), and Australia (2008). Simultaneously, he has spent time on the stage, performing in musicals. It’s no wonder that he has used his voice in film as well. He has had a number of voice acting roles in animated fare, including Happy Feet (2006), Flushed Away (2006), and Rise of the Guardians (2012). Of course, the one film that gave him any recognition from the Academy was Les Misérables. This opera based off of the stage musical really gave Hugh Jackman the chance to show his talent as an actor and a singer. For his role as Jean Valjean, he was nominated for the Best Actor Oscar. Even if he didn’t win, the variety of work he has performed means that it might not be too long before his next nomination.
Recently released convict Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman) easily goes back to his thieving ways after nearly 20 years in prison. However, a Bishop shows him kindness, even forgiving him for stealing the clergyman’s silver. The one condition for this gift is for Valjean to do something worthwhile with his life. Years later, Valjean now owns a factory and is mayor of a French town. Unfortunately, his former prison guard, Javert (Russell Crowe) recognizes Valjean when he helps lift a cart from an accident. The cat-and-mouse between them begins just as Valjean picks up an orphaned girl. They both escape to Paris where she grows up and eventually gets romantically involved with the revolution that is forming. Javert finds Valjean in Paris and is confused when he is shown mercy, despite the relentless chase. His adopted daughter’s fiancé is rescued by Valjean, and both are saddened that he cannot be with them at their wedding, as he has since died.
2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 halves of Hugh Jackman
Bacon #: 1 (X-Men: First Class / Kevin Bacon)