Hugh Jackman

He is the most notable actor from Australia acting in the Hollywood of today. Since hanging up his claws as Wolverine he is exploring another type of characters. He plays the presidential candidate Gary Hart in The Front Runner, the last movie from Jason Reitman.


The story follows the three weeks it took Hart’s leading campaign for the Democratic ticket to implode when reports surfaced of an extramarital affair. It was a changing point for American politics, Jackman says, but getting to know the elusive politician proved challenging. In New York we had the opportunity to talk to Jackman about his career, his new movie, politics and his passion for learning.

 Q:  You’re a father too, did you have any reluctance just getting into the mindset of someone who just lost

Hugh:  It’s not easy and you don’t want to go there.  The actor in me loves to go there.  It’s a melodramatic situation in a way but that’s sort of what actors look for, how to bring that down into a real understandable, relatable sort of way.  I was attracted to the part, I was attracted to the story as a moviegoer but it was difficult to read let alone play.  It was not easy.  I think there’s a reason why we go to these movies and why don’t we just go to comedies all the time?  Why don’t we just go and have a laugh or escape.  For thousands of years these kinds of stories have been told as well because whether we like it or not, there are individual and collective fears within us that we push down every day and one of them is a situation like this whether you’re a parent or not.  It’s elemental.  It’s got to do with is there anyone looking out for me.  Is there anyone relying, can I rely on people, can I protect, am I being protected.  All of that exists and collectively you watch a movie like this, sure you are thrilled and gripped by it but at the end it makes you think, it makes you feel and that’s important.  So that was a good reason to make it and the same reason watching it.  When you make a movie like that it is cathartic. 

Q:  It must get very emotional for you to find that anger all the time.  It’s like exhausting in a way.  How do you snap out of that?

Hugh:  It’s sort of like if you’re doing it right, my experience of acting is almost like things are flying through you, the story is flying through you.  If you’re trying to control it, it’s somehow you finish really depleted in a bad way.  It’s hard to explain.  There’s a kind of relaxation you need with acting and it’s a kind of connection you need with the other actors and the director, which sort of feels you up in the end.  Have you ever had a really good cry and you feel fantastic after it and sometimes you cry and you just feel, you’ve got a headache and you feel like, when you’re acting right, it’s like the former and when you’re not acting well it’s like the latter. 

Q:  It’s like therapy in a way.

Hugh:  It sort of is.  You don’t have to act to have that experience.  You can have it by watching too.  You can have it by watching a movie.  We can all think of movies in our lives that have transformed us.  You don’t actually have to just be the actor. 

Q:  This movie deals with complex and serious matter, violence, faith, that whole sense of duty.  If you’re asked to choose one thing that this movie focus on in your opinion, which would it be? 

Hugh:  That’s great.  I think it’s real strength is in its moral ambiguity and I think the treatment and examination of violence, the effects of violence on individuals, on couples, on societies and the police is really to me one of the major things of this movie and how the collateral damage is across the board.  There is no winner out of any of them.  That would be my number one I would think. 

Q:  Do you have a first-aid kit?

Hugh:  No. 

Q:  For emergency or something like that?

Hugh:  I was in my home for a year before I found the fuse box and that was because something went down and I was like I don’t even know where the fuse box is.  This is embarrassing.  It’s so embarrassing, my life is, I get babied as an actor so much.  They tell me what to wear, what to say, when to start, when to stop, they pick me up, they drop me off, they feed me, they put me on a plane, oh, it’s sort of so much is taken care of and the motto pray for the best, prepare for the worst.  I’m very much pray for the best kind of guy.  I think I forget the second part.  Oh my gosh, someone will take care of that.  This movie has probably changed me that way.  Probably made me step up a little bit and realize my family are in situations, there’s paparazzi, things I should be a little more prepared actually. 

Q: How is your Spanish these days?

Hugh: No better than my French. But in both languages I can survive!! But let me tell you I can make a wonderful paella. 

Q: Have you ever read a Spanish author?

Hugh: Yes, someone recommended me the book Cathedral of the Sea by Ildefonso Falcones and it is fascinating. I will go to Barcelona right after. Is amazing. 

Q:   You already got Tony, you already got Emmy.  Is Oscar something that you wish?.

Hugh:  I’ve got an Oscar.  He’s 17 years old.  My philosophy of life is expect nothing and everything is a bonus.  All that stuff, it’s an incredible honor.  Something I never thought, I never thought I’d be asked to host the Oscars let alone be nominated.  It’s all been amazing and we’ll see.  I’m just thrilled that a movie like this, which is a studio movie, which is a thriller is also being seen for the greater ambition that it holds or being a resident drama about something very timely and something that should be discussed and talked about. 

Q:  You’ve had so much success, it’s a golden time for you, so many great projects like this and you can bounce from one to another.  Do you ever in your head think well maybe I should slow down a bit and spend some more time with the family?

Hugh:  That’s a couple of very good questions, by the way.  It’s very timely.  Ever heard of the dog house?  I’m slightly just…I’m taking a break between now and Christmas.  I’m doing nothing.  I don’t what is next year but I will be slowing down because it’s, the reason I say it’s a great question is I’ve been acting for almost 20 years now but I do feel the opportunity that I’ve been given at the moment is so exciting to me and in a way the thing you hope might happen, just at the time where you kind of for my family I know I need to slow down a bit and it’s a little war that goes on with it.  It’s a very pertinent question and ultimately high class problems.   

Q:  What will you be doing during the break?

Hugh:  A lot of school lunches, pickups, drop offs, lists, homework, reading to the kids, pretty boring, mundane normal stuff.  Cooking, playing Monopoly.  So far I’ve been off for a couple of weeks; I’ve played quite a few games of Monopoly, soccer practice… 

Q:  How about working out?  You still have to…

Hugh:  It’s interesting.  I don’t have to work out for anything and my wife is like why are you going to the gym and I was like well I was very much a layman.  I used to work at a gym and I wouldn’t really work out there much at all and I’m finding myself I do about three days a week and I enjoy it and I love, every gym I’ve gone to since I’ve left I go in on my own and someone from the gym will come up to me and say hey, we have a personal trainer we’d like to do a session with you.  I go no, I don’t want, please the last thing I want is to be pushed.  I’m just enjoying coming here pretending like I’m doing a hard workout and I’m not.  The greatest luxury is to not have someone go…. {laughing}  

Q:  What kind of stuff do you cook?  Are you a good cook?

Hugh:  Interesting, my son is become vegetarian and I way too much meat when I do all those Wolverine roles so I’m learning vegan burgers and falafels and lentil soups and things like is what I’m learning now. 

Q: Do you remember Gary Hart?

Hugh: I was on a gap year in Europe living on 10 Pounds a day, probably drunk most of that of 1987 if I could afford it so I don’t remember very much about it.   When people said Monkey Business Donna Rice, I kind of understood that a little bit but I don’t think I’m alone in that fact.  I have spoken to a lot of people, even people who did Political Science at college here in America and they kind of remember oh, yeah, didn’t he ask the press to follow him around but they don’t know very much about it. I think that’s what attracted me to it.  It’s a seemingly very small part of history, political history, but actually has a lot to say about how we’ve got where we are today.

Q: Meeting Gary Hart

Hugh: I made the decision to go and see him and he was gracious enough to allow me to stay with him in his home.  I had done a lot of research, spoken to many, many people from his campaign who were very open to me and I’m still in touch with them today and the #1 thing everyone says about Gary is he’s incredibly smart, one of the best politicians of the last 50 years and unbelievably enigmatic which is very intriguing for an actor playing him. I’ve never played anyone alive before, so I was pretty nervous about it.  I do believe our stories in life are valuable to every single person.  Our legacy is important.  If I was playing any of you here today, or if you were playing me, I hope you would treat it as seriously as I treated it and I wanted Gary to know that I had respect for him and for his legacy, for his family, for his story and I took it very seriously so he was incredibly gracious and true to what everyone said very enigmatic. 

Q: This is a story with no heroes or villains

Hugh: I think what Jason has done brilliantly is try not to tie things up in a bow.  The story has no real heroes or villains.  It asks many questions.  It tries very hard not to give answers.  I think that’s what people want now more and more, you know, there’s no villain.  The press is not the villain, the politician is not the villain, it’s just a point in history that illuminates what’s happening today. The movie is very relevant.  It certainly illuminates like my character talks about the process, the sanctity of the process and protecting the process and what that process has meant.  Now I’m an Australian.  Many of us here are outsiders so I would never presume to comment on American politics nor would I Hungarian politics or anything else.  I’m Australian.  I’ll comment on Australian politics 

Q: What it means for you turning 50

Hugh: Time is precious.  I’m turning 50 in a month so a lot of people are talking to me about time and don’t worry I’m not having a midlife crisis that I know of yet but, of course, of course it’s precious and I am, you know, I watch my kids grow up very, very quickly.  My son just turned 18 which he reminds me of every time I ask him to do something I’m an adult now.  I do what I want (laughter) but I think, you know, life is a beautiful, magical thing and the only thing we can really control is our attitude to it.  Different events happen to all of us, good, bad, indifferent and time is no different.  I see time like money.  I see it as energy.  I see you can choose to spend it any way you like.  That’s my attitude towards time.


María Estévez

Correspondent writer