Five minutes with: Hugh Jackman

By Michele Manelis

Actor Hugh Jackman at the men's singles final match between Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic in New York. REUTERS/Mike Segar
Actor Hugh Jackman at the men's singles final match between Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic in New York. REUTERS/Mike Segar
The ever affable Hugh Jackman talks to us about skin cancer, how coffee can change the world and his new spirited bio pic, Eddie the Eagle.

In a classic underdog story, Hugh Jackman plays against type as a hard drinking ‘bad boy’ and mentor of Eddie ‘the Eagle’ Edwards, played by Taron Egerton. This feel good movie is based on the real life of the British ski-jumper, who became an unlikely Olympian hero.

Eddie kept persevering regardless of the obstacles in his life. How have you dealt with rejection?

Rejection is something that fortunately just gets easier with time. I think with acting obviously there is a lot of rejection but I always went into an audition or a rehearsal and would measure myself on how I did and not whether I got the part. A little like Eddie actually, because you can really do well and be wrong for the part. And there are only so many things we control.

In the movie, your character drinks a lot of beer, but in real life you’re more of a coffee guy

Well, I talk more about drinking coffee…(laughs)

You’ve said that coffee can change the world. Can you tell me why?

If we make a very conscious choice of where we get our coffee from, you can literally change lives. I have seen it from all the coffee growers, depending on the price they get, the conditions, all of that sort of stuff. So I just think it’s a very practical and easy way to help the world. Two bucks a day, where you can help change the world. And I think often, changing the world seems overwhelming, but if someone told you that if you drink the right cup of coffee every day, you are going to be doing something, it’s a win win.

You did some campaigning for kids in Australia about skin cancer. Can you tell me a bit about that?

I just figured, there is social media and I do that and I do support some causes in that way but Australia is miles ahead now. We had the highest rate per capita of Melanoma and we also have the fastest dropping rate of Melanoma in the world. I believe it’s compulsory, as in legally compulsory, for every kid in Australia to wear a hat when they go out on the playground. So the kid forgets to wear their hat to school they have to stay inside the classroom. And not just a hat, but like the Lawrence of Arabia with the thing to cover the neck, and they take it really seriously. And now you see everyone on the beach has got these little pop up tents and they wear the tops the rashies and it’s a totally cool thing, which is so great. When I was young, our rule was burn and peel. Twice. (laughs) And then you were safe. And you had to do that in the first month, you would burn and peel and then you were fine. And put on the oil, and you would see people with the foil underneath their face.(laughs) And I do remember my parents being really adamant that we were not allowed in the pool within a half an hour of eating lunch, right? Which turned out to be complete BS. The whole thing of ‘You are going to sink!’, and this and that, but nothing about sunscreen (laughs). ‘Do not get in that pool! You will DIE!’

Being married in Hollywood for 20 years seems like a really long time. You accomplished that this year. What is the key to a great marriage?

I think if I use the word intimacy, I think a lot of people assume that’s just physical intimacy, but I think a great relationship depends on honesty and being able to bare yourself for who you really are. So I think often in relationships we can get off track. You can either start off track or the beginning or you get off track, but as you change in life, and we all learn different things, we all change and I think as long as you are letting your partner see the real you and you are seeing the real them, then you are in great shape. I think we spend a lot of our lives dressing a certain way and showing the world the shop front of how we want to be perceived. No relationship survives that because you can’t hold the façade all the time. I think in a relationship which is such a great thing, for me and Deb, we have this kind of intimacy I think where nothing is off the table. No embarrassment or shame is hidden or secret or success, all of that stuff is shared and it’s tempting sometimes to only share the good things or the things that we only want other people to see but if you are in a relationship where everything is on the table, then I think you are in a good place and I think that has worked for us.

Apparently deb said that the only person that you were not allowed to work with was angelina jolie?

She was joking (laughs). If you know Deb, you know her sense of humour. She is a very secure woman who has been in way more sex scenes in movies than I have ever been in, so she understands the thing (laughs).

What is your fascination with sports?

I love sports. In a way, sport can become in a way a little bit like a soap opera and you can become completely caught up in the story and the emotion of it. For me, I have always been captivated by it and I think the parallels between my job, or any kind of artistic endeavor, and sport are very, very close. It’s very much about the ultimate in preparation so that on the day you can feel completely relaxed and in the moment to kind of react to whatever comes your way. And I often think about a hundred meter runner and the level of confidence and relaxation that is required to pull of ten seconds in every four years and to be at your best and not to let tension or pressure get in the way and to learn to use adrenaline in the right way. It’s not dissimilar to a close-up on a scene that you know is a pivotal scene in the movie or hosting the Oscars or opening night on Broadway, that feeling. And there was a great, great documentary about this guy who studied Carl Lewis and he developed this thing called The 85 Percent Rule. He said if athletes, or people who were driven, think I am going to give 85 percent of my best, they will perform better than if they think 100 percent. And the only thing that happens on a first date in life, that dinner party, we burnt it, because it’s got to be right, it’s got to be perfect. I think if most of us actually sort of went into an interview or a press conference thinking, ‘Oh, I am going to give 85 percent of my best,’ it’s probably going to be a better interview. So I find the lessons I learned from sport apply to life.

Did you give 85 percent when you went on the first date deb?

Right (laughs). Not that I would ever admit that to her.


Eddie The Eagle is in cinemas in New Zealand and Australia on 21 April.

MiNDFOOD Video Exclusive with Hugh Jackman and Taron Egerton





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