This is not about the Hugh Jackman who sang his way through "Les Miserables," danced his way through an Oscars telecast and Peter Allen'd his way to a Tony on Broadway.
This is about the Hugh Jackman with metal claws, rock-hard abs and bad haircuts.
This is the tough, snarling Hugh Jackman we know as the Wolverine.
The 44-year-old actor plays the Marvel mutant for the sixth time in "The Wolverine," which opened July 26. A seventh appearance ("X-Men: Days of Future Past") is being filmed in Montreal.
Jackman's foray into the world of Wolverine was unveiled in the 2000 film "X-Men." He reprised the character in "X2" (2003), "X-Men: The Last Stand" (2006) and "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" (2009). The Australian actor also made a cameo appearance in the 2011 prequel "X-Men: First Class."
Wolverine, for the uninitiated, made his comic-book debut in a 1974 issue of "The Incredible Hulk." He was featured in a series of comic books a decade later, and has been the star of his own comic book since 1988. He is more than a century old, with the power of self-healing that slows the aging process. His two primary assets are his adamantium (a metal alloy) claws and "berserker" rages. He was one of the first of the brooding comic-book antiheroes, and is known by the name Logan.
In the new film, directed by James Mangold of "Walk the Line" fame, Logan is asked to return to Japan to say goodbye to a dying friend. He not only gets caught up in a conflict with the Japanese underworld, but must deal with an internal struggle between the indestructible monster he is and the mortal man he wants to be.
Monster or man, you can count on Jackman to be shirtless a lot. With that ripped physique, who can blame him?
Q: Was I wrong to think there would be more singing and dancing in "The Wolverine?"
A: (Laughs) Sorry, man.
Q: See how you confuse people, switching back and forth from singing and dancing roles to serious dramatic roles?
A: Imagine how confused I am.
Q: How do you keep it straight? Aren't they such different disciplines?
A: They are. But when you learn acting in Perth, as I did, and you do Shakespeare one day and singing and dancing the next, that's what you get used to. And it's something I love. I love jumping from one thing to another. Actually, if you think about Wolverine and Jean Valjean (of "Les Miserables"), they share many qualities. They're not as different as you might think.
Q: Still, it's amazing that you have this two-sided career. Not many actors can say that.
A: I feel very lucky to be able to do it. I suppose I try to keep as many doors open as possible, and I'm more shocked than anyone that more doors haven't been slammed in my face.
Q: With such diversity in your career, it must be surprising even to you that you have visited this Wolverine character six times?
A: Oh yeah. More than once would be surprising. It's pretty shocking. It's shocking that I'm filming the seventh in Montreal right now. What's more surprising is that I'm enjoying playing the character more now than I ever have.
Q: Much is made of your body in these Wolverine movies, and I can't imagine it is getting any easier to get in that kind of shape at the age of 44?
A: It's never easy, but I know more about it now and I'm way more prepared than I used to be to get in shape. And it gives me something to complain about on a daily basis. Otherwise, I might get too satisfied with my life (laughs).
Q: How much was your workout routine disrupted when there was a lengthy delay in filming, caused initially by the original director (Darren Aronofsky) dropping out and then by the tsunami that wrecked many of the film's sets in Japan?
A: I maintain about 75 percent when I'm not filming these movies because I never want to fully let go because I remember how hard it was to get in this shape in the first place. It's so much easier to stay in shape than to get in shape. I'll go off the reservation a bit when I stop filming one of these movies but I'll continue to train a little bit. Ultimately, as painful and annoying as it is, it's a good feeling to feel fit. And the idea of starting from scratch is the worse thing in the world.
Q: Do you ever get to eat well?
A: Don't worry. I do. As strict as I am, there is always room for cheating. I read in a book once that it's good to occasionally cheat. It's a bit of philosophy I've held on to.
Q: How did you start this work-out routine?
A: I got my diet and my whole workout regime from Dwayne Johnson ("The Rock"). He cheats once every eight days and when he cheats, it's unbelievable. You name it, he eats it.
Q: What is your attraction to playing this mutant?
A: As an actor, he's one of best characters to play. He was one of the first anti-heroes introduced into the comic-book world. He's complex. Everyone he loves dies so he's alone and filled with quite a lot of vulnerabilities. One of his super-strengths is a by-product of that. It's called berserker rage, which makes him feral and formidable and the last person you want to anger. His power and strength is rooted in his angst and dysfunction. For an actor, that's what you're looking for. It's not all truth, justice and the American way. That's what makes him interesting.
Q: And what do you think makes him so fascinating to movie audiences?
A: He's not the most powerful of mutants. He can't fly. He can't jump. He doesn't have things coming out of his eyes. If you're anymore than 10 feet away from him, you can pretty much get away from him. But it's his courage and his anger, and the fact that he doesn't listen to anyone and always does his own thing that appeal to people. He's cool and bad-ass, and people love that.
Q: What are the rigors of playing Wolverine? Do you ever get hurt during filming?
A: Yep. That bullet train sequence in the new movie was one of the hairiest stunt sequences I've ever done. One time I got flung out of the train on my neck. I got caught up in the wires. It was like being picked up and dropped on your head. That wasn't much fun.
Q: How was Oscar night?
A: It was amazing. One of the highlights was the opportunity to perform with the whole cast of "Les Miserables." That was something we didn't even do in the film. We never sang that song together. It was a great thrill. But the absolute high point for me was to look down and see my wife sitting in the audience. Just getting invited to the Oscars is exciting enough, but to have a night like that was magical.