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Feature: The Fountain
Hollywood star Hugh Jackman talks candidly about his new Science Fiction film
By any standards, actor Hugh Jackman has had a very busy year, with acclaimed roles in X-Men 3 and The Prestige setting the seal on his status as one of Hollywood’s favourite leading men.
Hugh Jackman first met director Darren Aronofsky in 2004, at the Broadway play The Boy from Oz, in which Jackman starred as maverick Australian singer/songwriter Peter Allen. Aronofsky, the maverick behind the bizarre Pi and the disturbing study of drug addiction Requiem for a Dream, had been working for some time on a film called ‘The Last Man’, which ultimately became The Fountain, inspired by the first Matrix movie. Originally the film was to star Cate Blanchett and Brad Pitt, but when both actors left the project, it was put in hiatus.
But by 2004, the film was ‘go’ again, and Jackman pursued Aronofsky, believing the director to be on to a winner. At last, Jackman was given a script. “I was so moved by it. I thought it was beautiful. I said to Darren that if he could wait ’til my Boy from Oz contract was finished, I’d be in.” He said, ‘If you do this, I’m going to ask more of you than you’ve ever been asked to do before on film. I’m going to take you places you maybe even thought you would never go on film. Are you ready to do that?’ I said yes. I was thrilled, but he absolutely worked me.”
Jackman gets to show an emotional range in The Fountain that will surprise even his diehard fans. “Up until this movie, I don’t think I’d had a script that warranted that kind of emotion. It’s always a little frightening. It should be frightening, otherwise it’s not challenging. Darren wanted that kind of rawness. I’ve not been challenged like that since drama school – I think only the first film I ever did, Erskineville Kings, had the emotional intensity and rawness of The Fountain.”
The film takes place in three Times, 16th Century Spain, the present, and Deep Space in the 23rd Century, with Jackman’s character present in each era. How did the actor approach the three versions of the character?
“There’s an essential similarity to the three, in what drives them. Physically, we wanted to make them very different. Obviously, they look very different but I created a different physicality for all three. For Tommy [the present day character] I made him like a question mark. We had this image of him as a question mark and Darren and I spent hours in rehearsal rooms when I’d walk around and around trying different things until we felt it was right. Tommy is weighed down by the world and what he’s doing. He’s always hunched over, curled up. His lab is underground. Everything is under, under, under. He’s always going down steps, if you look at the design, it’s brilliantly done.”
by Judy Sloane
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