Aussie actor Hugh Jackman is a Hollywood icon. The Sydney native got his big break with the role of Wolverine in ‘X-Men’, and has triumphed in ever since. Jackman sits down with MiNDFOOD to talk politics, privacy, and what it means to be truly free.
Academy Award-nominated and Golden Globe-winning Aussie, Hugh Jackman, stars in Jason Retiman’s political biopic, The Front Runner. Based on true events, Jackman plays American presidential candidate, Gary Hart, whose life falls apart after a public adulterous scandal. He catches up with Michele Manelis for a wide-ranging interview.
What did you know about the Gary Hart scandal before playing him?
I was on a gap year in Europe living on 10 Pounds a day, probably drunk most of that of 1987 so I don’t remember very much about it (laughs). Even people who did political science at college here in America kind of remember saying, “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 political history, but actually has a lot to say about how we’ve got where we are today.
Did you meet him?
I met Gary. 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, spoke to many people from his campaign who were very open to me and I’m still in touch with them today. The number one thing everyone says about Gary is that he’s incredibly smart, he’s one of the best politicians of the last 50 years and he’s unbelievably enigmatic which is very intriguing for an actor playing him.
How did you feel 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. I wanted Gary to know that I had respect for him, 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. He’s very enigmatic.
What does the movie mean to you?
The story has no real heroes or villains. It asks many questions. It tries very hard not to give answers. 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.
How relevant is this to Trump?
I’m Australian. I’ll comment on Australian politics but not here in the US – where I’m on a visa (laughs) but I think it illuminates the democratic process, how it’s not perfect.
Unlike Gary Hart, you haven’t had any bad incidents with the press.
Well, actors and politicians are under the microscope. It’s a completely different lens from where I stand. I’m sure there are some actors who find it suffocating and unbearable. I don’t. I get nervous for my family. My kids are born into it, they have no choice and I protect for them and I try my hardest to do that.
What’s your relationship to fame?
Fame is a weird thing. I never wanted it, I never sought it, I didn’t ask for it but if someone was to say to you, ‘Here’s a Lamborghini. I’m going to give you the keys and occasionally in your life there’s going to be traffic. You still want the keys?’ (laughs) You’re going to say, ‘Yeah!’ That’s kind of how fame is for me
Do you see time and fame differently now than when you started acting?
Time is precious. I’m 50 so a lot of people are talking to me about time. I’m not having a midlife crisis that I know of yet but, of course it’s precious. I watch my kids grow up 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.”
What have you learned over time?
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. I see time like money. I see it as energy and you can choose to spend it any way you like. That’s my attitude towards time.
Do you think TV and film has changed our views on sex as a society?
Oh, across the board what we see on TV, lyrics we hear on the radio, the clothes we wear, of course it’s changed. Would it really be an outrage if someone flashed a nipple at the Super Bowl now? Things have changed dramatically across all areas of society.
Do you have any new musical projects coming up?
Yes, I can’t announce it just yet but there is singing and dancing in my near’ish future and I love it.
How do you live a normal life without always feeling like you’re under a microscope?
Don’t read all the comments on your Instagram. That’s key for me. Don’t read them all. I’m too thin skinned. I’m being facetious. It’s different for every actor, there’s a choice involved. I try and preserve my private life.
Do you think it’s possible to be a public figure with a private life?
You cannot say I’m closing off 97% of my life but I’m still going to run for office. I just don’t think that works. I’ve always loved the Socrates quote. I tell it to my kids all the time because they’re on social media and I’m sure they think that what they’re doing is private and then I say look, remember what Socrates said, “Never say privately what you wouldn’t say publicly.” Now all of us do say things privately we wouldn’t say publicly but I kind of believe in that. If you can sleep well at night with how you live, the choices you make, the things you say then on another level the thoughts you think, then you don’t have to worry too much, do you know what I mean?
What else would you like to try in your acting career?
A horror movie, more stage – there’s so much I want to do. I’ve always loved the variety in this business. I think it’s a really exciting time to be an actor. There’s an unbelievable amount of stuff being greenlit. It’s an incredible time. There’s many, many, many new female directors coming into the business. I’m enjoying acting more than ever.
What is your greatest luxury?
Freedom to me is the greatest luxury.
Freedom from what?
Everything. Freedom to do what you would like to do. There’s freedom of all different types but freedom in general. In terms of materialistically, a pair of handmade shoes is pretty luxurious and I’ve got 2 pairs in my life and putting those on is fantastic (laughs).
How do you unwind?
I would say the number way for me that I’ve done for 25 years is meditation which you could also put under the heading of freedom as well.
Does it work?
For me, it obviously works. I wouldn’t have done it for 25 years. It’s the most powerful tool I’ve ever, ever been given in terms of just unwinding but feeling centered and calm and happy.