It seems like from talking to the second unit director [David Leitch], it seems like the action and the tone of this film is very different than the action films or even the Wolverine films. Can you talk a little bit about that?
“Yeah, it definitely feels like a standalone movie in every way. I always hated the idea of saying ‘Wolverine 2.’ I didn’t know what it was going to be called. It was the studio, I think, who came up with the idea of the title, and I was like, ‘Fantastic.’ Because in a way, I knew that everybody, from studio down, was embracing this idea of this movie being different, and it needed to be. I mean, it was one of the reasons why the comic books are so popular. It feels like a whole different offshoot and I think visually, stylistically, the movie—and I’ve probably seen at least 45 minutes cut together and I’m so happy with it. I definitely think it’s the best I’ve been in the character. I look at it and go, ‘Wow.’ It feels different and it feels in a way more like the character that I envisioned when I first read it. I think their style is different. The palette, the design is different. The story is different. This is not jam packed with mutants. This is not a massive, special effects movie, and nor should it be. It doesn’t need to be. This is a character study about this guy, and setting it in this world I think is just exciting because as I said, we start normally where you might finish a movie, you know? It’s over, so you kinda need to bring him out of that, but he’s still dragging. I keep thinking of ‘The Mission’ and Robert De Niro with all that stuff up the mountain. He’s still dragging it all with him that in this world it’s this fantastic opportunity to see him really try and embrace who he really is, which is the essential struggle, always that I feel like we’ve never really taken him down far enough in order for him to see that rebirth, and to see him really embrace who he is or not. We’ll see, you know?
Is there any room for Logan to be happy, or is it always at his lowest point?
“Yeah, that’s a great question. You know, like, it just feels disingenuous to have a completely happy ending. I don’t know—and Chris McQuarrie talked about that, or we talked about that two or three years ago. Jim [Mangold] and I, I think, you can definitely talk more him the battle to be at peace with himself, the battle to be happy. It just sends the wrong conversation for this character. But, his version of happy is different from my version of happy, you know? I think he’s a lot more badass than me, but there’s certainly a lot more women around in this movie. He’s happy for that.
We heard that Bryan Singer’s rejoining the X-Men.
“Yes, I just read about that, yeah. I think it’s great.”
Is Wolverine going to be involved?
“We’ll see. I don’t know. I don’t know about that. I’ve just gotta focus on this one, but yeah.
Publicist: Thank you very much
Jackman: I’ve got a couple more minutes.”
One question I had—
Jackman: (To Publicist) Unless you’re worried about what I’m saying. Is that what that’s about? Yeah, right.
Side-note: Jackman himself effectively doubled our interview time and was very enthusiastic about just chatting all things X-Men.
I was very excited when Aronofsky was going to be directing.
But I’m equally excited about James. I’m just wondering, how much has the film changed from when Darren was working on it, and what kind of changes?
“That’s a good question. Not too much. Like, maybe 10, 15 percent is the realm of changes script wise. Obviously, stylistically, who knows what Darren would’ve brought?”
What has James brought to the project?
“Many, many great, great things, which are key story points that I can’t tell you. They were some of the actual lynch pins of this, he really brought to it. Out of defense to Darren, I don’t think we got to the point—even though we were on and it was going—because he had “Black Swan” and all that going, we hadn’t got to the point where I was really seeing his shooting script. I don’t think he stepped over that line. Like, he was making the movie, but you know, for Darren, I’ve worked with him on a movie, so I know where he gets to. I don’t think I’d seen the final version. Like, he was working on the script as it was, and in that way, the story hasn’t changed that much because he responded to Chris McQuarrie’s like Jim did. And Chris is really, really great, and this is one of the movies that even he said to me, he goes, “Sometimes I struggle with a movie. This is one of those ones where I said whoosh, it just came out.” You could feel it when you read it. So, even now the draft we have, and of course, we’ve had writers come on and help with this or that, change this or that, it’s still 80 percent of what Chris was writing, you know? It was never one of those, oh, it’s great, but we have no third act, or we have none. So, in that way, Jim first said to me ‘The Outlaw Josey Wales,’ you know, and that idea of that character who’s driven by this—well, in that movie it’s clear sort of revenge and desolation of everything that he’s had. So, it’s not exactly the same, but stylistically, I think he was onto something really great. He’s definitely made me angrier, surlier, more tortured. He’s encouraged me at every turn to—you know, at times I want to quip, and here and there I’ll quip, and occasionally they’re there, but very careful about that, about us losing the tone, which is notably darker in this movie, which I think is always the way it’s gotta be. But really, in many ways, both of them are very assured filmmakers, and they would’ve been different movies, but again, I want to say in the 20 percent difference, not like chalk and cheese.”
With Darren’s story, was it also going to be based after the other films? That was always the plan?
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With this being a darker film, is an R rated film more appropriate?
“We talked about it. Darren and I talked about it. Jim and I talked about it. The studio and I talked about it. By the way, they were open to that idea because if you’re ever going to make a real character R-rated, Wolverine’s the one, and I can… part of me would just love to indulge in the freedom that that gives you. On the same point, and I worked with him, but I’m forever grateful to Chris Nolan because I think what he’s shown is actually the R-rating is not necessary to give you a satisfying, smart, dark, emotionally complex story. All I said to Darren and I said to Jim, I said, ‘It’s tempting , could be great.’ Obviously, the samurai elements, and you think of the history of blood spattering and all of that, the visuals, all of that, which is so tempting, I can’t tell you in the last 10 years how many 11, 13, 15 year olds, 17 year olds that I’ve met that it’s not just ‘cool movie, man,’ what it means to them. And so, I say, we’ve gotta have an incredible reason to deliberately exclude them, because that’s what we’re saying. We’re saying, ‘This is not for you,’ or ‘you can watch it in six years’ time. I mean, of course, they’ll all watch it anyway. But the message is, ‘This is not for you.’ And I just said, ‘In the end, actually, everything we wanted to do with an R-rated version, we are doing in terms of who the character is.’ So, yeah. One more?
Side-note: For more on an R rated Wolverine from the directors and producer, click here.
Yeah, sure. We saw the set photo from “Empire,” which had you sporting the old bone claws. We also saw some photos from the prison camp. Can you tell us how much time was spent in World War II? We think it’s World War II, or in the past, and how that affects…
“Good leading question, man. It is in the past.”
A reason why you go back to Japan? How does that affect him?
“It is related. It’s not that much of the movie time wise, but it’s a significant story point. It is, yeah, yeah.”
Is it a certain character in the past?
Okay. I think a lot of fans would want to know, would Wolverine—you as Wolverine—ever appear in an Avengers movie? Do you think the legal powers that be could ever make that happen?
“You know, obviously we have people from—one of the great things about this movie is that a lot of people from Marvel are here and it seems a lot more inclusive than it has been in the past. I don’t know what’s happening behind the scenes, but I think it’s fantastic. I actually just asked the other day, I said, ‘I don’t know what the legal situation is, but why don’t these companies come together? Why isn’t it possible?’ Because personally, I would love to mix it up with Robert Downey Jr. and Iron Man and kick his ass. It’d be great. (laughs) There you go. There’s your quote. (Laughs)
That’s why we came here.
“Now I’m getting yanked. But no, I think it’d be fantastic. I loved The Avengers. I love what they do with it. Kevin Feige, by the way, I can tell you is one of the true gentlemen of this business. And I say that from when he was on X-Men 1, and I don’t even know what his role was, officially, associate producer maybe? But, when I first auditioned for Bryan [Singer], Dougray [Scott] was playing the role. Bryan… I think I was sent there by the studio. I don’t think he even knew I was coming, and it was one of those auditions you walk out going, ‘Well, I know this isn’t happening.’ Instead of just putting me on a plane, I remember him taking me out, him and Tom DeSanto took me out for a restaurant because I had to stay overnight. It was too late. They took me out for dinner. I remember thinking, I go, ‘Well, I know I’m not in this movie, so you guys are true gentlemen.’ They were really nice. I know how busy they were. They were already filming at the time, and I know I really wasn’t doing it. I know what was going on behind the scenes. And within a week, all of a sudden the Dougray thing started to unravel. So then, I went back and did a real audition. But the first one, I don’t know what the first one was, maybe for the studio to see me more. I don’t know, or maybe they were anticipating what was coming. Who knows? But anyway, I just always remember Kevin and I have such a soft spot for him, and I’m in touch with him and I don’t know how I got onto that. But anyway, I’m basically really happy and proud of what he’s achieved. I think he’s making great movies. People love them. And consistency is incredible. So, who wouldn’t want to be involved with that?
The Wolverine is directed by James Mangold off of Mark Bomback and Christopher McQuarrie’s screenplay. It stars Hugh Jackman, Svetlana Khodchenkova, Will Yun Lee, Brian Tee, Hiroyuki Sanada, and Rila Fukushima.
The Wolverine hits theaters July 26, 2013. X-Men: Days of Future Past hits theaters on July 18th, 2014.
Follow Rob on Twitter @rob_keyes for your X-Men movie info.