Little-known Australian actor Hugh Jackman, currently starring as Wolverine in the smash hit X-Men, isn't irked that some moviegoers are confusing him with British actor Hugh Grant. In fact, as far as name-calling goes, being compared to the Notting Hill star actually is a sign of progress.
"When I was in school, it was Hugh the poo and Hugh the kangaroo," the actor tells TV Guide Online, adding that his relative obscurity works in favor of the film ? which grossed an out-of-this-world $54.5 million last weekend. "When you're playing an icon like Wolverine, it's sometimes better to be someone that nobody knows, because they don't know what to expect. [Besides,] I don't mind a little bit of anonymity. It helps on the subway."
Well, considering the success of X-Men, Jackman's days of being just an ordinary straphanger are dwindling fast. And for that, the actor can thank Dougray Scott, who was originally tapped to bear Wolverine's claws but bowed out when he was held up shooting Mission: Impossible II. As director Bryan Singer recalls, the casting crisis led to an emergency screen test with Jackman, which the Aussie nailed.
"I offered Hugh the role on the spot which I haven't done," marvels Singer, who ironically passed on Jackman months earlier. "Usually you think about it or you make a call or you call an agent. It's the first time I ever offered a role to an actor on the spot since I offered Kevin Spacey Usual Suspects. [Jackman] was really extraordinary."
For his part, a modest Jackman has a different theory as to why he ultimately was cast. "They were three days into filming so there was a lot of pressure," recalls the actor, who next will star alongside Ashley Judd in the romantic comedy Animal Husbandry. "And I was pretty cheap as far as actors go. So all those things worked in my favor."