Thursday, 18 September 2008

Hugh and Ava Jackman Smile for Snappers


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X-Men star Hugh Jackman and 3-year-old daughter Ava Eliot smiled for the paparazzi as they made their way to the grocery store on Monday in Sydney. Accompanying them was mom Deborra-Lee Furness (not pictured).

FOX "Almost Fired" Wolverine Director


Earlier reports of friction between director Gavin Hood and the studio have now been backed up. Shocking news has come in that the X-Men Origins: Wolverine helmer nearly got the axe from FOX until Super-director Richard Donner smoothed things over.

This from Variety...

"Wolverine helmer Gavin Hood (pictured above) was nearly fired, according to sources, because of squabbles with the studio, and two backup directors were in place before Richard Donner - who is married to the film's producer Lauren Shuler Donner - flew to the Australian set to smooth things over."

"At the time, FOX insisted that Richard Donner was on-set because he is a producer on the film. However, current credits for the film list various producers, but Donner is not one of them."

Apparently the arguments between director Gavin Hood and the studio are all about the tone of the film's content. FOX, not surprisingly, wants something lighter and more kiddie-friendly in order to reach as wide an audience as possible. Hood on the other hand wants to go darker and more intense.

Fox stated that, "in no way is Gavin Hood being replaced or usurped by anyone, this is very much his movie."

But that now appears to have been typical damage control deception as this new report reveals that not one but two directors were waiting in the wings, and Hood might well have ended up being dismissed and replaced. This latest news has made comic book movie fans increasingly nervous about the quality of the finished Wolverine film.

FOX has had a rocky year, with a poor summer for the studio, and genre fans furious over the studio's legal action against Paramount's Watchmen movie--an obvious money grab. FOX has also faced criticism by Babylon A.D. director Mathieu Kassovitz, who was unhappy with the studio's treatment of his film, and director Alex Proyas, who said he'd never again work with Fox after his experiences when making I, Robot.

Variety also points out the trouble: "The strategy of being cheap and eschewing top-tier filmmakers came back to bite the studio: Although Fox has been the envy of many for its remarkable box office consistency and profit margins, many producers, agents and managers have been less than charmed.

"Complaints about the studio's tendency to lowball talent - particularly writers - and Rothman's micro-managing of productions have become widespread. A broad spectrum of reps say they are reluctant to place clients on Fox projects, citing a talent-unfriendly atmosphere.

"Though Fox has no plans for a major overhaul, the studio has scheduled a strategy meeting to assess the status of its superheroes, a group sorely missed this summer. On the agenda, Fox will mull the possibility of more X-Men spinoffs, including a young-X-Men project as well as Deadpool, based on a character played by Ryan Reynolds in Wolverine. The studio is even considering reviving the Daredevil property."

Lynn Collins On Being The Silver Fox To Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine In ‘X-Men: Origins’


Actress Lynn Collins recently told MTV News that playing Marvel mutant Silver Fox in the upcoming “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” not only allowed her to embrace her Native American roots, but also brought her very close to star Hugh Jackman.

“We’re lovers,” said Collins of her character’s relationship to Wolverine.

In Marvel Comics history, Silver Fox was a former love of Wolverine, and the pair lived together in the Canadian wilderness during the late-1900s before a series of tragic events (and crossed paths with other Marvel mutants) pushed their lives in dramatically different directions. Thus far, “X-Men Origins” seems to be based closely on that chapter in the comics history of Marvel’s favorite Canucklehead, with many of the characters who play significant roles in the print series’ over-arching story already cast in the film.

As for how she prepared for the role of Silver Fox, Collins said her male counterparts had a far rougher time of it when it came to getting into character.

“They were all on super-buff diets, and I had pizza most of the time,” said Collins. “They were so jealous of me.”

“I didn’t have to beef up in this movie,” she added. “I just had to wear skimpy clothes.”

Are you looking forward to seeing a film based on this chapter of Wolverine’s history? What other Wolverine stories would you like to see on the big screen?

Aaron Jeffery Talks About His Role in Wolverine


Some time back it was revealed that Australian actor Aaron Jeffery was signed to play a role in Gavin Hood's X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Now the actor has confirmed to Australia's Daily Telegraph that he is, in fact, in the film - though he remains cagey about what role he may have.

In an interview discussing his series The Strip Jeffery offered a few words about X-Men Origins: Wolverine. "I can't say much, but it was a fantastic experience being part of the film ... It was the biggest sandpit I've ever played in," Jeffery said. He added "It was a dream to work with the director, Gavin (Hood)."

X-Men Origins: Wolverine explores Wolverine's early days, before joining the X-Men. The film will cover Logan's early life, and his involvement with the mysterious Weapon X program. The film stars Hugh Jackman, Liev Schreiber, Dominic Monaghan, Danny Huston, Ryan Reynolds, Taylor Kitsch,, Daniel Henney, Scott Adkins and Lynn Collins. X-Men Origins: Wolverine is due to arrive in theatres in May 2009.

More X-Men Spin-Offs, New Daredevil Film?


In an article at Variety talking about Fox's not-so-hot summer, the trade touches on some possible projects the studio is in talks about:

Though Fox has no plans for a major overhaul, the studio has scheduled a strategy meeting to assess the status of its superheroes, a group sorely missed this summer. On the agenda, Fox will mull the possibility of more "X-Men" spinoffs, including a young-X-Men project as well as "Deadpool," based on a character played by Ryan Reynolds in "Wolverine." The studio is even considering reviving the "Daredevil" property.

Should Fox move forward with some of these ideas?

A Wolverine Finds His Romantic Side

From: TheNewYorkTimes.

HUGH JACKMAN is a big, macho movie star. Got it?

In talking up Mr. Jackman in advance of “Australia,” his coming romantic epic, three executives at 20th Century Fox all described the actor as a “rough-hewn” throwback to Hollywood’s classic leading-man types, a “young Clint Eastwood.”

Baz Luhrmann, the director of “Australia,” which co-stars Nicole Kidman as an aristocratic cattle owner, also talked up Mr. Jackman’s manliness. “There are not many actors who have an ability to pick up a Nicole Kidman, throw her on the bed and ravish her with believability,” Mr. Luhrmann said.

Perhaps feeling that description was not vivid enough, Mr. Luhrmann added, “He is also excellent with a cattle whip.”

Here’s what Mr. Jackman’s bosses and colleagues are trying to say: Mr. Jackman, 39, is on the verge of megastardom, the kind that comes with Oscar nominations and demands for script approval. But to join the short A-list of male movie stars he must move past all that girly singing and dancing stuff on his résumé.

In Hollywood, where typecasting remains very much a force, Mr. Jackman retains a slight stigma. Isn’t he the guy who won a Tony Award for playing a flamboyant gay songwriter in “The Boy From Oz” on Broadway? Didn’t he host the Tony Awards for three years running? And didn’t he also produce and star in “Viva Laughlin,” that campy CBS musical series that bombed last year?

With “Australia,” which Fox plans to release on Nov. 26 in North America, Mr. Jackman will get the chance to prove that he can play a big-time romantic lead in a big-time movie. And with any luck, the film will be part of a one-two punch erasing any lingering worries about his ability to open a movie. “X-Men Origins: Wolverine,” in which he reprises his “X-Men” role as a hirsute mutant in need of a nail file, opens on May 1.

“I think it will surprise people,” Mr. Jackman said of his performance in “Australia” during an interview on the Fox lot. “I’m never that worried about positioning myself, and I don’t like labels personally or professionally. But this is definitely the straight-down-the-line, classic, old-school leading-man role I’ve been waiting for.”

Mr. Jackman was not Mr. Luhrmann’s first choice. Mr. Luhrmann intended for Russell Crowe to play the character, a brooding drover with no name who helps Ms. Kidman’s aristocrat drive cattle across a barren homestead during World War II. But Mr. Crowe and Fox sparred over money. (At the time the combative actor fumed to a reporter, “I do charity work, but I don’t do charity work for major studios.”)

Mr. Luhrmann, the director of critical darlings like “Moulin Rouge!” “William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet” and “Strictly Ballroom,” said Mr. Jackman was initially under consideration for the smaller role of a greedy land manager. “I was keen to have Hugh in the film, but I didn’t immediately see him as the drover,” Mr. Luhrmann said, adding that Fox worried about Mr. Jackman’s marketability.

Fox grew more comfortable with Mr. Jackman’s star status after “X-Men: The Last Stand” opened in 2006 with strong results (it ended up making more than $450 million worldwide), and Mr. Luhrmann had become impressed with Mr. Jackman’s gung-ho attitude. Ms. Kidman, a friend of Mr. Jackman’s wife, the Australian actress Deborah-Lee Furness, gave her approval at a party in Los Angeles.

“Nicole came bounding in and said she heard I was talking to Baz,” Mr. Jackman recalled. “I said: ‘Yes, I’m very excited. But I haven’t yet seen a script. Tell me, what is it like?’ And she responded: ‘Oh, I haven’t read the script. It’s Baz. Just sign on.’ ”

Not long after, Mr. Jackman found himself enduring intense horse training in Texas. For the role he would need not only to woo Ms. Kidman’s character, who inherits an enormous cattle ranch in a remote part of Australia, but also to ride herd over 2,000 cattle and rope horses. In one scene he would need to jump off his horse and grab a stampeding cow by the tail. Another scene called for him to stand in the center of a corral and lasso a wild horse.

Mr. Jackman played down the rigor required by most of the wrangling work. But even he was impressed with the lassoing. “The horse went ballistic when I got that rope around his neck,” he said. “My gloves ripped, the rope peeled skin off my hands. I just remember being so happy that I did it that I didn’t care at all.”

Filming took place in Australia’s barren Northern Territory. (In the film Ms. Kidman’s character owns a sprawling desert property near Darwin, a small Australian city bombed by the Japanese during World War II.) The shoot came with dust storms, scorpions and, down the side of a cliff from Mr. Jackman’s trailer, a lagoon slithering with crocodiles. The shoot lasted 157 days in total, an epic period even for an epic drama.

“I almost fainted on the first day,” Mr. Jackman said. “Incredibly hot, incredibly remote.”

It was a long way from his days starting out in musical theater in Sydney, a time when he worked as a part-time clown at children’s parties. (In another job around that time, a pre-muscled Mr. Jackman was paid to stand in the lobby of a local gym as the “before” model.)

One early role came from the Sydney production of Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast.” He played the prince. He went on to a starring role in a local tour of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Sunset Boulevard,” and eventually landed the role of Curly in an acclaimed London revival of “Oklahoma!” in 1998.

During that production, a permed Mr. Jackman had his first professional encounter with Mr. Luhrmann. It didn’t go well: he auditioned for the romantic lead in “Moulin Rouge” and was passed over for Ewan McGregor.

Mr. Jackman came out O.K., though. During the same time, he was a backup choice for the Wolverine character in “X-Men” and got the part after the original actor, Dougray Scott, backed out because of a conflicting film commitment. Aside from the “X-Men” movies, Mr. Jackman’s movie career has mostly included films that missed expectations, including “The Prestige.” Whether “Australia” will work is unclear. Fox hopes it will be an Oscar force, and the footage is lavish. Mr. Luhrmann said he was influenced by sweeping classics like “Gone With the Wind,” “The African Queen” and “Out of Africa,” which Mr. Jackman says is one of his favorite films.

But the film is commercially risky. Historical epics can be a tough sell, as “Troy,” “Kingdom of Heaven” and “King Arthur” have recently proved to the studios’ dismay. And Ms. Kidman’s recent track record at the box office (“The Stepford Wives,” “Bewitched,” “The Invasion,” “The Golden Compass”) has been scanty. (The film also represents a big departure for Mr. Luhrmann, who has developed a passionate following for his colorful visual style, which often places characters in over-the-top worlds bordering on fantasy. But “Australia” is darker and more realistic looking, and includes a subplot about the government’s forced removal of Aboriginal children from their families.)

Mr. Jackman always has a backup in “Wolverine.” Judging from his reception in July at Comic-Con, the huge comic book and movie marketing convention, the action film will be a blockbuster. More than 6,500 fans at Comic-Con greeted him like a deity when he made a surprise appearance to plug the movie. People were screaming and chanting; one woman burst into tears. “It was my little rock-star moment,” Mr. Jackman said.

People who work with Mr. Jackman gush about him, too, to the degree that one starts to wonder just how badly other stars are behaving. “He is the most centered, incredibly focused actor I’ve ever worked with,” Mr. Luhrmann said. “I know everybody always says that in Hollywood, but I really mean it.”

Nina Tassler, the president for entertainment at CBS, said she had no regrets about “Viva Laughlin” because of Mr. Jackman’s involvement. “Working with him was one of the highlights of my entire life,” she said. Mr. Jackman, she added, was intimately involved in aspects of the project like script writing and marketing — rare for movie stars moonlighting in television — and said she found him humble and unassuming, an opinion echoed by others.

In wielding his charm, Mr. Jackman, whose offices on the Fox lot are located in Shirley Temple’s former dance studio and who watches “Judge Judy” in his spare time, likes to use humor. “You can’t cut my hair or my beard — but you can trim my nose hair if you like,” he said to a stylist readying him for a photo shoot.

And his looks — five appearances on People magazine’s “50 Most Beautiful” list and counting — don’t hurt his bankability either, as the director Bryan Singer, who hired Mr. Jackman for “X-Men,” helpfully pointed out in an interview.

As for that “rough-hewn” label? “That’s studio-speak for a lot of chest hair,” Mr. Singer said.