Belfast Telegraph

Monday 21 April 2014

What Next For Hugh Jackman?

COMMERCIAL FEATURE

He’s been an X-Man, a cattle driver and even an emperor penguin, and once again Hugh Jackman’s trying something completely different.

He’s been an X-Man, a cattle driver and even an emperor penguin, and once again Hugh Jackman’s trying something completely different.

In Real Steel, a science fiction tale set in the year 2020, Hugh plays Charlie, an ex-champion boxer who finds himself obsolete when 2000lb robots replace humans in the boxing ring.

With his career down the drain, Charlie must find a new way to make money, and by teaming up with his son he may be able to regain some of his former glory. Hugh is no stranger to some pretty physically-demanding film roles: think of the gruelling preparation he did for X-Men, which saw taxing daily workouts and, at one point, bench-pressing up to 300lbs.

His physique in Wolverine, and dedication to sculpting a realistic action hero body, brought him worldwide attention, and the role remains one of the most defining of his career. In Real Steel, you’d be surprised to know that Hugh doesn’t actually play a starring role in many physical scenes (sorry ladies!).

Although his character is a former boxer, the problem is robots have taken over in the ring and Charlie’s former boxing skills are now obsolete. That’s not to say he’s not still in tip top shape, scenes from the Real Steel trailer show that Charlie can still right-hook with the best of them as he attempts to teach Atom (the robot he hopes will win the championship) how to get the better of his opponent.

However, the film also takes a deeper look at the people around Charlie, and how he got into his current situation.

As Hugh Jackman admitted in a recent interview: “He’s disappointed a lot of people. He’s desperate. He’s losing”.

Initially, Charlie is scraping a living as a boxing promoter, and yearning for bygone days when he was king of the ring. When long-lost son Max turns up the pair begin a journey back into the spotlight, as they attempt to construct a robot that will win fights on Charlie’s behalf.

There’s a fair few action scenes (and the faint of heart may want to look away during the gorier fights) but at the heart of the story is a tale of an estranged father and son who begin to bond as their passion for boxing draws them together.

Ultimately, it’s a tale of forgiveness and redemption and this is exactly the angle director Shawn Levy was going for, “the father-son drama, the emotion, the kind of rousing sports movie We are very much the robo-boxing movie, but that’s one piece of a broader spectrum.”.

It would seem that in Real Steel movie fans can look forward to a tale with a little bit of everything including action, guts, emotion and a father-and-son relationship that strengthens as the pair fight to get Atom ready for the ring in time.

Although Hugh is known for his high-octane action roles, Wolverine, Van Helsing, even Drover in epic romance ‘Australia’, he’s already shown that he has enough versatility to carry off the emotional stuff as well. After all, any man who can voice an emperor penguin (Happy Feet), play a magician (The Prestige) and appear in his own one-man Broadway show must have a fair few acting skills up his sleeve!

Hugh has commented on how much he has enjoyed making the film, particularly his passion for that sort of genre: “I’ve got to tell you, when I grew up: Chariots of Fire, Rocky, The Champ, Hoosiers, these movies, I kind of love Well now I’m so excited because I’m in one”.

Hugh’s enthusiasm for the film is evident after it was announced that filming for the sequel would commence in October. So with the distinct possibility that Real Steel is going to become one of the definitive boxing films of all time, make sure you get yourself down to a screening near you!

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