Q and A With… Hugh Jackman 2008
The Australia actor and People magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive talks about on-screen kisses, his favorite flicks and more.
The love story Australia reminds me of those great romantic dramas of the 1940s. What are some of your favorites?
I loved Gone With the Wind and From Here to Eternity. Those were lovely to watch; they have a timeless quality.
The two characters in your movie get together romantically, despite what people think of him. What do you think this movie teaches us above love?
It teaches us that it doesn’t really matter what other people think about, whether society says it’s a good thing or a bad thing. What is most important, particularly now, when things in the world are unsure, is that you are with the person who really loves you. That’s all that really matters.
You had great chemistry with your friend and co-star Nicole Kidman.
I’ve known Nicole for a long time; she is a good friend. She’s an amazing person to work with, she has a very mercurial quality, in the best sense of the word. There’s a kind of danger about her—no matter how much you know her, there’s always going to be something surprising, and she’s a little unpredictable, to keep you on your toes.
Is it easier to kiss a friend?
Director Baz Luhrmann quite likes sunsets and kissing, so we ended up kissing quite a lot, and the true answer is that it was not the toughest day at the office! But it’s never particularly comfortable making out with someone in front of 70 people. It’s not really something that turns me on. I know it is for some people!
In terms of the intimacy, we said, “OK, we need to take this seriously, so we can really portray this romance and the passion and the heat between the two. And even though we know each other, that’s the biggest trap.” Sometimes when you know someone too well, all the heat goes out of the room, if you’re too familiar with them.
Thankfully, when I saw the movie for the first time, my wife, Deb, was next to me. During the very first kiss, which is quite a long, lingering, slow kiss, Deb leaned to me and said, “That was great!” So, if your wife will give you the thumbs-up, you know you’re on the right track!
It’s also really amazing to kiss someone where I don’t have to have my shoes off or be in a ditch or have the other actor [stand] on a box, which is not sexy. It was really lovely. Nicole said the same thing—“Oh, I get to look up when I kiss you!”
So, People magazine recently named you the Sexiest Man Alive…
Trust me, I never thought it would happen, and all my mates never thought it would happen, and they constantly reminded me about that! My son, Oscar, who’s 8, said, “You? You’ve got to be kidding me!” I thought, Here’s the truth!
George Clooney jokingly said he was really behind the campaign to get Matt Damon the honor, which you’ve now taken over. Was there anybody behind your campaign?
I had Baz on my side. It did help a lot. We ran a very strong campaign, and I’m not proud of it… I can admit it now, we were the first campaign to run a negative campaign, and we spent years bringing Clooney, Damon and [Matthew] McConaughey all down to size!
Contributing entertainment editor Susan L. Hornik is based in Los Angeles.