Hugh Jackman battles monsters

Associated Press

New York:

Relaxed is a great word to describe Hugh Jackman, even though the roles he’s best known for are intense characters who couldn’t be more different from one other. The 35-year-old Australian actor first became known internationally as the morose, metal-clawed mutant Wolverine in the first ‘X-Men’ movie in 2000, a role he reprised in the 2003 sequel. (In between, he squeezed in a couple of forgettable romantic comedies, ‘Someone Like You’ with Ashley Judd and ‘Kate & Leopold’ with Meg Ryan, and the crime thriller ‘Swordfish’, with Halle Berry’s bare breasts.)

In ‘Van Helsing’, he takes on Dracula, Frankenstein’s monster and the Wolf Man. ‘Van Helsing’ writer-director Stephen Sommers said Jackman was the only actor he wanted to play the lead role. “How many guys out there are that good-looking and that talented?” Sommers said. “It had to be a man, it couldn’t be a boy. A lot of younger actors are really good but Van Helsing’s kind of worldly — he’s been around. He has to have some weight to him, yet he’s not of Harrison Ford’s age. There are not that many great-looking, super-talented guys in their early 30s.”

One role Jackman turned down was Billy Flynn in the movie ‘Chicago’, which earned Richard Gere a Golden Globe and would have given him a chance to do on film what he does so well on stage. “I almost just said, ‘I’m doing it,’ because this might be my only chance to ever do a movie musical, which is a bit of a dream for me. But I kept getting to that line where he says, ‘I’ve seen it all, kid.’ And you could argue, ‘Oh, they could change the line,’ but that’s integral to not only who he is but the balance,” he said. The youngest of five children, raised by their accountant father after their parents divorced and their mother moved to England when he was eight, Jackman initially studied to be a journalist. Then he realised he would have been too easygoing for the craft: “I think with journalism you’ve got to have that grab-onto-the-bone kind of mentality.”