Hugh Jackman had a real life fighter in mind when he was first developing his Wolverine character. He thought his mutant anti-hero and iconic boxer Mike Tyson should’ve had one significant trait in common.
How Hugh Jackman wanted to model Wolverine after Mike Tyson
Jackman had little to no knowledge of the X-Men‘s Wolverine prior to being cast as the comic character. The actor originally didn’t even think Wolverines were real, and prepared for his X-Men audition by channeling a wolf.
“Embarrassingly, I didn’t know what a wolverine was…. And I presumed it was a made-up name for the comic book,” Jackman once said on Late Night with Stephen Colbert. “I’d never read an X-Men comic. I’d never seen a wolverine… So I presumed it was a wolf.”
After acquiring the part, Jackman would get to know his Wolverine very well. In the beginning, the actor had a few ideas on how he wanted his character to fight. He used Mike Tyson’s boxing style as a frame of reference.
“I was very adamant at the beginning in 1 and 2— I used to watch tapes of Mike Tyson — and I was like, I don’t want it to be pretty. I don’t want it to be martial arts. I don’t want him to be anything other than, like, a street fighter. He doesn’t fight for the sake of fighting. If he can take someone’s head off in the first punch, he’ll take it off,” Jackman once told Entertainment Weekly.
Hugh Jackman felt Wolverine was the spine of his career
In a 2014 interview with Collider, Jackman confided how significant the Wolverine role was to his career. It wasn’t only Jackman’s breakthrough role, but it was a character he’d find himself attached to for more than a decade. The character has also been a window for Jackman to see the growth he’s experienced as an actor over the years.
“And this character is very much the foundation, the spine of my career, so I can easily see how I’ve changed. I’d say I’m more confident- I was very much an actor based in the theatre when I got the job and I’d done some TV and film but I was more comfortable on the stage and I think that’s equaled out for me as much, I’ve been lucky enough to have a number of shots at being in films,” Jackman said.
Even back then, however, Jackman knew that eventually he’d have to hand the character off to another actor. But this made him more protective over Wolverine.
“I’ve been doing it for 14 years, so of course at some point I’m going to have to pass it on, so I guard it more jealously, I appreciate it more and I’m enjoying it more than ever,” he said.
Hugh Jackman didn’t want Wolverine to lose his edge as he became more trusting
Jackman noted how his Wolverine experienced his own evolution over the course of the X-Men films. His character arc led to Wolverine becoming more open with his new friends and family.
“He’s someone who lives with a lot of regret and pain and, weirdly, vulnerability underneath. His natural thing, which I think is the same for a lot of people, is to retreat, to be a loner, to not rely, to not trust, to actually close off from the world. His journey has been, probably because he’s been encouraged by Professor X and maybe Jean and others, his journey has been to actually open up and to actually trust and learn to rely on other people, which is not in his DNA,” he once told First Showing.
As glad as he was to see his character heal, Jackman still wanted Wolverine to be rough around the edges.
“I don’t want him to completely do that because I don’t want him to lose his badass kinda quality. I think it’s a great thing to learn, that idea that, yeah, everybody finds it hard to trust and relate. That’s just one side. There are so many different sides to him,” he said.
Source: Cheat Sheet
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