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Hugh Jackman came a cropper when shooting his latest flick, The Wolverine, in Japan, walking around a spa naked, his own little wolverine out for all to see, until a local pointed out his error.

“I then realised the towel was meant to be covering my privates and I’d spent an hour waltzing around with it in one hand and a beer in my other hand,” Jackman sheepishly admitted.

This culture clash could just as easily have happened to the 44-year-old Sydneysider’s most famous on-screen alter ego – the role that thrust him from relative obscurity to global super-stardom 13 years ago, thanks to Bryan Singer’s X-Men – who now finds himself battling the Yakuza and samurai in the Far East thanks to the latest film in the franchise, The Wolverine.

It’s been four years since Logan, aka Wolverine’s, last movie outing, the poorly titled and received X-Men Origins: Wolverine, which crammed too many mutants and commercially targeted ideas into a haphazard film. 

“You just look at that last movie’s title and see nine marketing intentions,” The Wolverine director James Mangold (Walk The Line) says of following up the previous series instalment. “You’ve got ‘X-Men’, ‘origins’, and ‘Wolverine’ – it’s like, ‘Do you want pepperoni with that, too?’”

The new film looks to correct that jumbled approach. “Origins was more of an X-Men movie,” Mangold says. “They didn’t give much time to his character, but we’ve found a way to give Logan more time.”

Now, Wolverine is centre stage and a lunchbox-favouring spectacle is sidestepped to make way for a darker, grittier, more brutal Logan who gets to throw unwanted evil ones off hotel balconies and grunts at others to go fuck themselves. 

“Hugh wanted a chance to do something different and to deliver something to the fans who’d come to him,” Mangold says, referencing the legions of loyal followers garnered from Jackman’s star-making turn back in Bryan Singer’s 2000 original X-Men movie.

That something new was to transpose the formerly US-based Wolverine to Japan, and plunge him into the midst of a family feud with which he was intrinsically linked thanks to his adamantium-aided self-healing ways.


On set during the filming of The Wolverine 

“Japanese cinema has been huge to me,” the New York- born director says. “Samurai films and Westerns are a great love of mine and they’re intrinsically bound, too. We were trying to make a Wolverine movie that was more based on the architecture of samurai and Western [films] and less so on the ‘will the world be saved?’ idea, which has been the architecture of the comic book movie for the last decade.

“If you watch a film like Dirty Harry, there’s a shooting and then Clint Eastwood shows up – you’re wondering who is he? Has his wife left him? Does he have kids? And then the movie just starts.” 


Talkback


Interview: Hugh Jackman returns in superhero movie The Wolverine with director James Mangold
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