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Hugh Jackman: Versatility Meets Consistency

Sean Sweany | Wednesday, November 1, 2006

The release of the magical thriller “The Prestige” stands as a watershed moment in the career of Hugh Jackman. Although his fame mostly stems from his portrayal of the popular X-Men character Wolverine, Jackman has proven himself as a dependable and versatile Hollywood talent.

The Australian-born actor was raised Down Under, which contributed to the tough veneer for which he has become famous, much like fellow Australian actor and friend Eric Bana. Originally a stage musical actor, Jackman starred in such productions as “Beauty and the Beast” and “Sunset Boulevard.” His talent for acting was quickly noticed and earned him the leading role in a London production of “Oklahoma!”

Hollywood soon came calling for Jackman thanks to his leading man-like attributes and he was selected as a last-minute addition as Wolverine in the first “X-Men” movie. The immense success of Bryan Singer’s film brought Jackman much acclaim and many job offers.

After displaying a knack for the thriller in “Swordfish” and comedic flair and timing opposite Meg Ryan in “Kate and Leopold,” Jackman returned as Wolverine in the second “X-Men” movie. This truly cemented his status as a bankable actor much like a Harrison Ford or Tom Cruise.

Although his superhero role in “Van Helsing” was not received highly by critics or audiences, Jackman’s popularity did not fade and he reprised his role again this past summer in “X-Men: The Last Stand” to great applause. His was one of few performances that stood out from the overdone and underwhelming third act to the “X-Men” series.

Jackman’s success as an actor stems from his ability to portray a resolute and gritty hero while also managing to keep a character both humorous and sympathetic. This is manifest perfectly in his Wolverine character, a larger than life hero who uses humor and sarcasm to cover up a sensitive, tormented side of his life.

After dazzling the London stage early in his career, Jackman turned his attention to Broadway in 2004 and won a Tony Award for his role in “The Boy From Oz.” He played host at the Tonys in 2004 and 2005, winning an Emmy for his second effort.

It is this versatility that marks Jackman as an actor capable of adapting to any role and audience. A necessary trait for any modern actor, this serves Jackman well as he has a freedom to choose virtually any project which strikes his fancy.

The future looks bright for Jackman, who will soon star in a spinoff based on his Wolverine character from the “X-Men” series and will fill the lead role in the highly-anticipated Darren Aronofsky (“Requiem for a Dream”) film “The Fountain” later this year. Early buzz has lauded Jackman’s acting and the film as a whole to the top of many Oscar lists and possibly one of the great films of the new millennium.

The possibility of an Oscar and the certainty of continued success should mean that Jackman will continue to grace the silver screen for some time to come.