Wolverine - Hugh Jackman
The Wolverine - Logan (Hugh Jackman) ©2013 Twentieth Century Fox

The iconic character of Wolverine first appeared in 1974 in the very last panel of an issue of The Incredible Hulk comic book, moving on to join the band of mutant heroes known as The X-Men.

The new movie The Wolverine, directed by James Mangold, opening on July 26th, marks the sixth time Hugh Jackman has portrayed the character. Lured to Japan, Logan/Wolverine finds himself on the run with a mysterious heiress, and confronted for the first time with the prospect of true mortality.

Hugh Jackman spoke about his long-running attachment to the franchise at the press day for the movie in New York City.

Did you enjoy playing Wolverine again?

Wolverine - Hugh Jackman
Logan (Hugh Jackman) battles ninja warriors ©2013 Twentieth Century Fox, photo by Ben Rothstein

I got the part in 1953! Sometimes it feels like that, it was in the past century, in 1999. I actually am enjoying playing him more than ever, and I was reflecting on that in sense of why would that be?

Wolverine is somewhere between the ages of 150 and 300 and on some of the 4am mornings I felt about 300 years old.

As you see by the title, we are focusing on this character and his journey. [It’s] a more intimate and interior story. We’re not wall-to-wall mutants, people flying around and lasers coming out of eyes. This is a true character story.

How do you feel you’ve grown in the role?

Wolverine - Hugh Jackman
Logan (Hugh Jackman) fights his greatest battle © 2013 Twentieth Century Fox, Photo by Ben Rothstein

This is my sixth time playing this part. I approach this role differently  each time.

You can’t help it as an actor, you change as a person, you change in your interpretation of a role.

As an actor you’re looking for the truth in a character, even if they have  claws, really weird hair and ridiculous muttonchops.

You talked a lot about wanting to do the Japan story. What appealed to you about that storyline?

The Wolverine - Hugh Jackman and Tao Okamoto
Logan (Hugh Jackman) and Mariko (Tao Okamoto) make their way through a dangerous situation © 2013 Twentieth Century Fox, photo by James Fisher.

Bryan Singer had this mandate that no one could read comic books on the set, because when he was creating the first X-Men he wanted it to be very human and  three-dimensional.

He was worried that actors would come on set with an over-the-top performance and their perception of comic books was two-dimensional, even though X-Men, as you know, is not. But we were handing them around, and I remember being handed this comic book like it was contraband. We were hiding them from Bryan.

Those people who know the Chris Claremont, Frank Miller series, know that [this story] involves all the X-Men, so I said, ‘This would be a great X-Men movie.’

As it progressed the idea of making it as the ultimate movie for Wolverine grew in my mind, and Jim agreed with me in that is a great fish-out-of-water story, taking him to a place that’s completely foreign and making him completely unhinged, not knowing who anybody is.

He’s a natural outsider, and I think the customs, the atmosphere, the history and all the Samurai codes of honor [and] obeying, is the opposite of Wolverine. It’s just the perfect place to put that character.

There’s a western feel to this movie, can you talk about that?

Wolverine - Hugh Jackman
Logan (Hugh Jackman reprises his iconic role) © 2013 Twentieth Century Fox

Jim said to me in the very first phone conversation we had, ‘I’m thinking The Outlaw Josie Wales.’ I said, ‘I haven’t seen it.’ He sent it to me immediately and I watched it. That was the tone, and I immediately I knew we were going to create something different.

Setting it in Japan obviously makes it different. We wanted to make this a standalone from the beginning. We didn’t  want it to feel like any other Wolverine movie or any other comic book movie, we wanted this to be in the service of the character.

Hugh sped around in an Audi sports car in the movie. He was asked about that experience, and he discovered a surprising fact from James Mangold – click below to listen to their answers.

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Judy Sloane

Judy is Film Review Online's regular Los Angeles based reporter.