60 Minutes: Hugh Jackman
Before it was a Broadway smash, Les Miserables was a very successful 19th century novel. Now, in the 21st century, it is also one of the most talked about movie musicals of all time. Director Tom Hooper’s $61 million blockbuster starred, among others, Hugh Jackman, who talked with 60 Minutes about the movie’s role in his career, as well as his Wolverine workout regimen for his best known role.
60 Minutes: Hugh Jackman Jean Valjean
Jackman may be best known as Wolverine from the X-Men franchise, but he is also a Tony winner and Australian native. He told Scott Pelley that everything in his career has been leading up to his Les Miserables role, as Jean Valjean.
In the film, Valjean is imprisoned for 19 years for stealing bread to feed his sister’s starving family, and faces off against Russell Crowe’s Inspector Javert. Jackman admitted that any movie musical is a risky endeavor. So why did he do it?
“Jean Valjean is the holy grail for me,” he said. “It’s the role of a lifetime.”
60 Minutes: Les Miserables Movie Musical
Les Miserables was written in 1862 by Victor Hugo, and it tells the story of redemption in the face of revolt by the people. Unlike most movie musicals, the actors sang live in each take, rather than lip syncing to recorded tracks of their own voices.
What was the impetus behind this decision? “You get an emotional truth,” Jackman explained. “I could mix it up. I could take a pause. If I was emotional, I could be emotional.”
Jackman’s early life involved moving to Australia from England as the youngest of five children in the 1960s. One day, his mother decided to leave her family behind and return to England.
60 Minutes: Hugh Jackman’s Mother Left Home
He said that he doubts she intended to make a permanent break, but needed to get away. It’s probably a good thing that his father was a rock, because someone in the family was able to provide stability.
“It’s where I learned everything about loyalty, dependability, about being there day-in, day-out,” he said.
Though his mother had moved back to England, Jackman still saw her about once a year. Meanwhile, his father was a single dad to three sons and two daughters, even paying for private school.
60 Minutes: Hugh Jackman Knox Grammar School
Jackman and 60 Minutes traveled to the prestigious Knox Grammar School, where he admitted to getting sent to the headmaster’s office shortly after being named class president. But he made a great save by steering the conversation to his goals for the year.
That might have been his first improvisational acting experience, but the stage is where he knew he would shine. After finding glory and comfort on the stage in school, he went on to pursue acting school, landing his first audition upon graduating.
His first role was the TV show Correlli, and that is where he met co-star Deborra Lee Furness, to whom he would propose four months later. It has been 16 years, and now the couple has happily adopted two kids, ages 12 and 7.
60 Minutes: Wife Deborra Lee Furness
Furness admitted that Jackman goes out of his way to keep her happy, and one of the tricks to that is turning down roles that would keep them apart. The couple does not like to be away from each other for more than two weeks at a time.
The exception was Les Miz, which took him from his New York home to Britain. That made him reflect on his father’s path in life, and whether the elder Jackman was too invested in his career.
“In his gentle way, he always reminds me this is the most important thing,” Hugh Jackman said.
60 Minutes: Hugh Jackman Wolverine Workout
For his next role, Jackman moved his family with him to Syndey, Australia, where he would be shooting for six months. This is the latest movie featuring Jackman as Wolverine.
It is his fifth outing for this character, which has made him an international star. But the tradeoff is intense: two-a-day-workouts and demanding physical training. He thinks of his body as another acting tool, like his voice or emotions.
He added that he loves playing the character of Wolverine and is always pushing himself to be better in the performance than the last time. “Otherwise, there’s no point in doing it.”
60 Minutes: Hugh Jackman Range & Versatility
Jackman has shown his range in the past, winning one of two Tony Awards for his role in The Boy From Oz, as songwriter Peter Allen, whose lover dies of AIDS. He said that the character gave him another chance to play with identity and explore another persona, even as it challenged the audience.
Jean Valjean is yet another role on his well-rounded resume, and the film was mostly well-received in its winter 2012 debut. He will be back in action for The Wolverine, slated for release on July 26 2013.