14 years and seven films later, Australian actor Hugh Jackman has earned the rare honour of being the one actor in Hollywood who has played the same superhero character for the most number of times. Plucked from obscurity to inhabit an iconic Marvel character which would go on to define his filmmaking career, Jackman says that he is “so, so grateful” for having been given the opportunity to play John Logan/ Wolverine.

“[The role] has completely changed my life,” Jackman explains, addressing a packed hall of journalists from all over Southeast Asia who have gathered at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Singapore to listen to the strappingly handsome actor reflect on his thoughts about taking off his Adamantium-claws. “It is very hard for me to ever give up the role; my son turns 14 this year and he was born while I was filming the very first X-Men movie!”

 The actor, who turns 45 this year, insists on performing most of his stunts on the X-Men movies, and if he could have his way, would continue doing as much as he can on every one of his Wolverine outings. “I’ll be starting on X-Men: Apocalypse that’s coming out in 2016, and hopefully, fingers crossed, James Mangold [director of ‘The Wolverine’] and I will figure out how to crack the character for another standalone movie,” Jackman says. “We corrected the ship with The Wolverine and we have to find a compelling reason to do another one.”

Jackman openly confesses that he is quite protective of the character and what he does with it, so he hopes to find something new for everyone every time he steps into Wolverine’s shoes. On the other hand, his two ‘X-Men: Days of Future Past’ co-stars Peter Dinklage and Fan Bingbing don’t have the same burden of being repetitive. Their characters are among the new additions that director Bryan Singer brings to the massive adventure which launches its audience from an apocalyptic future back into the world of the First Class team. 

In the movie, Dinklage plays Bolivar Trask, a military scientist responsible for creating the army of Sentinels which represents the threat that both the past and present X-Men have to come together to defeat. “You can’t live in a world where you haven’t heard of the X-Men movies,” says the actor best known for playing Tyrion Lannister in the HBO fantasy series ‘Game of Thrones’. “I just loved the X-Men movies, but what [Bryan] Singer did on this way totally blew me away. It’s a brilliant piece of summer moviemaking in my opinion.”

Even though filming took place some months before, there was clearly no loss of camaraderie between Jackman and Dinklage. When a cheeky reporter quipped that her favourite scene was when Jackman gets up from bed and reveals his upper torso, Dinklage quipped without blinking that he was Jackman’s “body double” on that day on the set. Also accompanying Jackman and Dinklage on the Southeast Asian leg of the seven-day marathon ‘X-Men Experience’ event is Chinese actress Fan Bingbing, who plays the mutant Blink blessed with teleportation abilities. 

Bingbing was cast in the role just 20 minutes after she met Singer. “I asked him why he wanted me, when Blink’s character is not Asian. He said that he just wanted someone who could wow the audience. I’m grateful to be given the chance.” Indeed, Jackman can very well attest that a role in the Marvel X-Men universe could be a potential gamechanger for any actor or actress in Hollywood. 

Asked to comment on the recent news from producer Lauren Shuler Donner that Channing Tatum had been offered the role of Gambit, Jackman says that it will obviously be a marvellous opportunity for Tatum as it had been for himself. “I’ll tell Channing this - he will get stalked by fans around the world who will tell him what they like about how he plays the character and what they don’t like; but that will still be a great experience, because they are about some of the best fans you can ever ask for.”

He also thinks that Tatum’s introduction into the X-Men universe could not have come at a better time. “It speaks to the quality of the storytelling that the X-Men movies just get better and better each time,” Jackman adds. “This movie, for instance, feels more like a beginning than it is an end. It opens a whole new world of possibilities for the X-Men franchise, and it’ll be really exciting for fans to see where this goes next.”

Proving himself a quintessential showman, Jackman lunged at the opportunity dangled by one of our very own reporters to engage the audience at the press conference. When asked to put on Wolverine’s persona to answer the question of whether he uses cutlery or just his pair of claws to dig into his piece of steak, Jackman faux-challenged the reporter to follow him to the back of the stage and then re-appeared with the fellow ‘limping’ and his hair messed up.  

It is moments like these that remind you just why Jackman’s star on Hollywood and on Broadway has been rising over the past 14 years - whether as Wolverine or any other character for that matter.

Text by Gabriel Chong