Hugh Jackman on why Wolverine slays ... his fans

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Dec 14, 2012, 3:54 PM EST

Hugh Jackman, star of the upcoming action film X-Men Origins: Wolverine, told reporters that he thinks that character details in films like this are as important as the action sequences.

"I think comic-book fans have loved Wolverine for more than the action," Jackman said in a news conference on Saturday in Los Angeles. "He was the first antihero, and there was not just good guys versus bad guys, but an internal battle of good and bad going on within the character. Yeah, they're cool, and they've got claws or they can do amazing things, swords, cards, all of that great, fun stuff, but each one of them has a personal battle going on, and that's why audiences can relate."

In Wolverine, Jackman reprises his role as the title character, aka Logan, who originally appeared to audiences as part of the X-Men film series. In addition to discussing the prospect of helming his own franchise, Jackman spoke to reporters alongside director Gavin Hood and co-star Liev Schreiber about developing the character's complex backstory and personal relationships. The following is an edited version of that interview. X-Men Origins: Wolverine opens Friday. (Spoilers ahead!)

Hugh, how protective do you feel about Wolverine as opposed to the other X-Men movies, since this is you front and center?

Jackman: Obviously, everything I do—and I know everybody on this panel feels that—there's no less effort or desire that goes into every role. Every film has that sense for me as an actor. But this movie has a different dimension as a producer. Particularly, I found myself yesterday asking everyone what they thought of the movie, and I was nervous about it, because individually—and Gavin, everybody here, and I know Lauren [Shuler-Donner] is also here, the producer from X-Men 1— ... I feel it's more personal to me. It's more my baby, and I've asked all of these actors and Gavin, the director, to come on board, and so obviously I'm more attached to it. It feels more personal, and that's the difference.

What was important to you in terms of balancing Wolverine's relationships with the action, because comic-book fans are obviously expecting big set pieces?

Jackman: I don't think that's true. I think comic-book fans have loved Wolverine, the character, in fact all of the X-Men characters, for more than the action. I think that's what set it apart from many of the other comic books ...

My first priority with this movie is for it to be fun. I want people to come and have a great time. I want them to be entertained. I want them to see it on the big screen with their friends or whoever and just have a great time. But I think what we have an opportunity to deliver, and this is in the comic book itself, is also make them think, make them feel and take them on a journey through these characters.

Can you talk about working with Lynn Collins and developing the love story between Wolverine and her character, Kayla Silverfox?

Jackman: Lynn plays a character and fulfills a role that was so vital to this movie. For fans, it will be a little shocking to see a love story there. But for anyone who knows acting and film structure, what Lynn had to pull off in the film was probably one of the most difficult things to do. She did an amazing job, and I was really, really proud of what she did. The casting of Lynn was something Gavin and I were so passionate about. The person that Wolverine could be in love with, but more importantly, the person who could be in love with this guy, was so vital, and she did an amazing job. I don't want to belittle anybody else in the film. I'm so proud of it. I just wanted to say what an amazing job she did.

Hood: I just want to second that. Hugh makes a very valid point. Lynn did have the hardest role in this movie, because it's the one that you can most easily screw up. You have to be somebody who's in love, and then you have to betray, and then you have to be liked again. One minute she's the lover, then she's the bitch, and then she's the lover. So, well done.