As much as we hate to accept it and as much as the trailers continue to suggest it, Hugh Jackman’s time as Logan has come to an end. The world will soon bid a fond farewell to everyone’s favourite cigar-chewing, claw-popping mutant and it may or may not mean someone else will take the title of the #Wolverine instead.
Surprising as it may seem though, in the incredible 17 years we’ve known Jackman as the jacked up adamantium-laced legend, there have been other films where he didn’t call a single soul "bub" before drawing knuckle blades or someone else’s blood. Here are five movies worth seeing to remind us he doesn’t always need to play the man with a metal skeleton to keep us entertained.
5. 'The Fountain'
A visual extravaganza and one of Jackman’s toughest jobs so early in his career on the big screen, Darren Aronofsky’s #TheFountain has Hugh playing three men tied to a story that spans time itself. Searching for the secret to immortality and bound by the love of a woman (Rachel Weisz), he plays a real-life Spanish explorer, a modern-day scientist and a lone space traveller in the future, all crossing paths as they encounter some form of the Tree of Life.
Admittedly, the biggest draw in 2006 for audiences was the economic and eyegasmic special effects constructed by Darren Aronofksy and chemical reactions he caught on film that stood in for CGI. That still doesn’t shift the focus from Jackman, whose charisma and unwavering presence works wonderfully opposite Rachel Weisz as his love interest that spans three lifetimes. Of the many highlights of Aronofsky’s films, The Fountain is often overlooked and shouldn’t be, and neither should Jackman’s performances.
4. 'The Prestige'
Who really knows what it takes to fall into Christopher Nolan’s specially selected crew of recurring cast members? Whatever it is, it’s a shame #HughJackman didn’t make the cut considering his commendable turn as The Great Danton in The Prestige. Of all of Nolan’s efforts, this one is easily in the top three for many, and Jackman is a key part in this trick turned treat that helped get it there.
As with all of his films, Nolan’s characters are never simple and Jackman’s Danton is no different. What begins as a man hungry for revenge becomes one that is sworn to overcome his friend turned foe, shifting like a deck of cards and being neither hero, nor villain. The film displays a rivalry that transcends the two magicians to the men that play them. Sure, Bale might deliver but Jackman etches ahead with a character fueled by obsession rather than devotion, paying the greatest cost when the truth is finally revealed.
You can have your Romeo + Juliet and return visits to Moulin Rouge, but #Australia is one entry in Baz Luhrmann’s back catalog that doesn’t get enough recognition, and Jackman misses the credit as a result. It may have been better on the big screen, but shrinking down to a small one doesn’t detract from Luhrmann’s love letter to his homeland, and Jackman delivering a hero right out of the golden age of cinema along with it.
Portraying what feels like an amalgamation of Indiana Jones with a glint of Clint Eastwood thrown in for good measure, Jackman’s Drover is a hero from yesteryear with the physique of a marble statue. Charming, rugged and droving like an absolute pro, the heartbroken hero who finds a new love in Nicole Kidman is the guy you either wish you had, or were. Is there really anything this man can’t do?
2. 'Les Misérables'
Before the world knew him as the superheroic Swiss Army knife, Jackman got a name for himself by carrying a tune. Originally leaving a sterling impression in Oklahoma, Hugh would eventually test his lungs once again thanks to his Oscar-nominated turn as Prisoner 24601, also known as Jean Valjean in Tom Hooper’s sweeping adaptation of #LesMiserables.
It’s clear from the opening scene that Jackman is putting everything he has into this award-worthy performance, because a film of this scale would really demand no less. His shot as the good thief turned good Samaritan is a magnificent one that not only touches the heart but rattles your chest with some of his musical moments. Admittedly, some stars shine brighter in Hooper’s 2012 film more than others (take a bow, Anne Hathaway) but there’s no denying that Jackman is one of them. All together now: "Look down, look down, don’t look them in the eye."
A year on from Les Miserables and Hugh went and landed another intense gig under the direction of Denis Villeneuve, proving that sometimes, even the good guys can go bad when they’re pushed. #Prisoners showed the darkest side Jackman has ever explored, portraying another complex character that made for an excruciating but equally compelling watch.
As Jake Gyllenhaal's hard-edged cop fights to crack his latest case and reunite a family, Jackman's distraught father takes the law into his own hands with devastating results. By going to unspeakable ends to retrieve his daughter, he begins to lose his humanity thanks to the dark road he takes to get her back. It’s easily the best Jackman has ever been outside of #Logan, not simply because of the human performance he creates, but that you ask the question you’re too afraid to answer: Would you do the same?
Any Jackman jaunts that I may have missed? List them in the comments below.