Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine Audition Was 20 Seconds Long

-Hugh, it is great to see you, and thank you so much for doing our show. You were one of our first guests when we did our quarantine show from my house, and we baked challah bread together. -We did. I don’t know about you, but what was the reaction at your house from your challah? -Dude, it went crazy.

People loved it. People freaked out and they said, “You made this?” And I go, “Oh, yeah.” They go, “But how –” It was the egg wash. It was the secret move. -It was weird, because I went somewhere recently, like a long time after, and this person looked at me. I was in the backyard.

It was one of those social-distance things. They said, “So, your challah…” and already, like, looked a little annoyed with me. And I said, “Right. For an Aussie, not bad, right?” And they went, “Mnh-mnh. You should have 12 braids.

Like, religiously speaking.” And I was like, “Oh, no. You don’t understand. Jimmy and me — our bar is way low.” -Yeah. We’re not bakers.

We’ll never be a baker. -No, we’re not going to be. -But I was happy. I’ve never made it. I was actually happy that I knew how to braid. And you taught me — It was — And the sesame seed I put on. It was just great.

I loved it. Look at that. Mine’s a little basic.

Alright, alright. Take that off. Okay, we got you. Mine’s a little unprofessional. -Memories. Are you still baking? -I try to.

Whenever I can, I try to cook. Do you do a lot of cooking? -I like cooking. I was brought up — So, my mom and dad, both cooks.

Both really different. Like, my dad — classic accountant — followed the recipe exactly, and so it’ll come out exactly as the recipe says. My mom has never wrote down a recipe.

She just cooks. She’s like an artist. In fact, I have to show you this thing — I have it here — because it’s one of the greatest gifts I’ve ever gotten. So, my mom wrote this book for me for my birthday, and inside — look how neat that is — handwritten, every recipe I grew up with. -Oh! -Right?

So all my favorites. And I said, “Mom, but how did you get the recipes? Because you don’t go for recipes.” And she goes, “I made them all.” I said, “What?” She said, “Yeah. Over the last year, I’ve had to make everything from your childhood and write down and measure and do all that.” Is that just not the great — Like, I immediately felt like a pretty crap parent. I was like, “Wow.” So my presents — they’ve got a long ways — -I know.

Exactly. Yeah, you’re like, “How do I top that one?” Wait. I did something similar with my mom. You know, my mom’s passed away now, a few years now, and I know — But before that, I gave her this book, and it said “Grandma’s favorite recipes” or something. I go, “I know it says ‘grandma,’ but ignore that.” I go, “And just write down — Just when you have the time, if you have a recipe for what I used to like during the holidays.” And she was like, “I’m not a grandma.

I didn’t even have grandkids. I’m not a grandma.” I go, “I understand. You’re young, and that’s the whole thing and we understand.” But I made her do this thing and I kept checking on her like, “Hey, is it almost done?” And then, one Christmas, she gave it to me. She goes, “I finally finished that book.” And it is magic, because, like you said, there’s no real recipes.

They’re like a pinch of something. -Yeah, your whole life, you go, “Oh, but my mom’s crème caramel, or I wish I could have that.” And, so, I made like 8 out of 10 versions of everything my mom cooked me when I was growing up. -That is magic. -It’s just quotes all through. Julia Child — “If you’re scared about it, try cream.” Like, all this great stuff. -Dude, I have to get out my mom’s cookbook, because it’s similar and it’s the best thing. It just — It makes you think of mom, and you just — I love it.

And I think that’s the secret to cooking, right? Putting the love into it anyway. -You got it. -Yeah. Last time, we talked about “The Music Man,” and since then, obviously, Broadway closed. “Music Man” postponed till spring, but it’s still happening, right? -100%.

We go into rehearsals in February, and then we’ll open in May. -Wow. And how do you keep yourself ready? -I sing every day, drive my kids crazy. I’m up there singing every day. I do scene lessons every week. I do dance lessons with my, like, choreographer.

Sometimes, I do, like, the Broadway Dance Center, you know, just the $12.95. which is sometimes — I’ve got to say, sometimes, it’s humiliating, because there will be like 70 people in the class, and I don’t have my video on, obviously, but I do look, and it’s just basically 68 of them are teenage girls and me. And I think, “Is this weird? This is weird.” [ Both laugh ] But I do that occasionally. Then I sing.

I get with Patrick Vaccariello, my MD, and we’ll just sing through the theme, because I’m a working man. I’m like you. I’m a worker. -Yeah. -I like to work. -You’re a perfectionist. You always show up, and when you do, it’s a great job. I was actually looking at a bunch of your — I went in a deep dive and found some old head shots of yours.

I thought it would be kind of fun to maybe take a look and just say, like, what were you going through at that time. Does that sound okay? -Okay. Yeah, let’s do that. -Alright, check this out. First up, tell me about this guy.

What year was this? And what was he into? -1995. That was “Correlli.” The fake tats there. This was my first job that I did.

My wife was the star of it. And she used to say to me, “Don’t take the tats off. Take them home.” But, yeah, that was about a five-month job, and, so, we got together about two or three months in.

And — I don’t know. It does look a little porn, that — Yeah, I didn’t use that a lot. -I tried to pull off a kind of version of that, because I thought, like, I was really — You know, I love Paul McCartney, and I was in a phase where I was looking at all of his Wings stuff and how cool he looked. He kind of had that mullet, but, you know, shorter, hair up top. And I go, “I’m going to do that.” And it looks awful. -Can I see it? -No.

I actually banned it. -Oh, come on. Alright, if there’s anyone there, like, in the control room who’s stashed some — I just want to see it. If there’s anything there.

I’m just saying. -No, that’s- -Hey! -No, that’s just my — -Hey! -That’s just my first head shot. That’s what that one was. How do you have that lying around? That, I paid — That was next to, like, the local hardware store.

Some guy was like, “Yeah, we also do head shots.” And what role was I going for there? –Looks like the center part. Is that the center part? -Oh, that is such a center part. That took me forever. And who is going to laugh at this comedian?

He doesn’t look funny at all. -No, this is very dramatic. -He looks sad. -Dramatic. Yeah, it’s very Daniel Day-Lewis. What year is this, Jimmy? -Get that off!

I can’t even look at this. Let’s look at this head shot of you, this other one I found. Oh, I like it. That’s clean-cut. -Yeah, that’s Look at me, the Golden retriever.

That is, like, me at drama school. I’m like, “Yeah, I can do a commercial for a bank. What do you want?” -What do you guys want?

I’ll be right there. Sure. Whatever you guys want. -Being in drama school, everyone else just seemed way cooler.

They all looked like, you know, Jimmy Dean, Brando — leather jackets, smoking cigarettes. And look at me. I’m like a big golden retriever. Hi. This is so much fun.

I’ve got a monologue. Shall I do a monologue? -I love it, though. It’s great.

-Hugh, it is great to see you, and thank you so much for doing our show. You were one of our first guests when we did our quarantine show from my house, and we baked challah bread together. -We did. I don’t know about you, but what was the reaction at your house from your challah? -Dude, it went crazy.

People loved it. People freaked out and they said, “You made this?” And I go, “Oh, yeah.” They go, “But how –” It was the egg wash. It was the secret move. -It was weird, because I went somewhere recently, like a long time after, and this person looked at me. I was in the backyard.

It was one of those social-distance things. They said, “So, your challah…” and already, like, looked a little annoyed with me. And I said, “Right. For an Aussie, not bad, right?” And they went, “Mnh-mnh. You should have 12 braids.

Like, religiously speaking.” And I was like, “Oh, no. You don’t understand. Jimmy and me — our bar is way low.” -Yeah. We’re not bakers.

We’ll never be a baker. -No, we’re not going to be. -But I was happy. I’ve never made it. I was actually happy that I knew how to braid. And you taught me — It was — And the sesame seed I put on. It was just great.

I loved it. Look at that. Mine’s a little basic.

Alright, alright. Take that off. Okay, we got you. Mine’s a little unprofessional. -Memories. Are you still baking? -I try to.

Whenever I can, I try to cook. Do you do a lot of cooking? -I like cooking. I was brought up — So, my mom and dad, both cooks.

Both really different. Like, my dad — classic accountant — followed the recipe exactly, and so it’ll come out exactly as the recipe says. My mom has never wrote down a recipe.

She just cooks. She’s like an artist. In fact, I have to show you this thing — I have it here — because it’s one of the greatest gifts I’ve ever gotten. So, my mom wrote this book for me for my birthday, and inside — look how neat that is — handwritten, every recipe I grew up with. -Oh! -Right?

So all my favorites. And I said, “Mom, but how did you get the recipes? Because you don’t go for recipes.” And she goes, “I made them all.” I said, “What?” She said, “Yeah. Over the last year, I’ve had to make everything from your childhood and write down and measure and do all that.” Is that just not the great — Like, I immediately felt like a pretty crap parent. I was like, “Wow.” So my presents — they’ve got a long ways — -I know.

Exactly. Yeah, you’re like, “How do I top that one?” Wait. I did something similar with my mom. You know, my mom’s passed away now, a few years now, and I know — But before that, I gave her this book, and it said “Grandma’s favorite recipes” or something. I go, “I know it says ‘grandma,’ but ignore that.” I go, “And just write down — Just when you have the time, if you have a recipe for what I used to like during the holidays.” And she was like, “I’m not a grandma.

I didn’t even have grandkids. I’m not a grandma.” I go, “I understand. You’re young, and that’s the whole thing and we understand.” But I made her do this thing and I kept checking on her like, “Hey, is it almost done?” And then, one Christmas, she gave it to me. She goes, “I finally finished that book.” And it is magic, because, like you said, there’s no real recipes.

They’re like a pinch of something. -Yeah, your whole life, you go, “Oh, but my mom’s crème caramel, or I wish I could have that.” And, so, I made like 8 out of 10 versions of everything my mom cooked me when I was growing up. -That is magic. -It’s just quotes all through. Julia Child — “If you’re scared about it, try cream.” Like, all this great stuff. -Dude, I have to get out my mom’s cookbook, because it’s similar and it’s the best thing. It just — It makes you think of mom, and you just — I love it.

And I think that’s the secret to cooking, right? Putting the love into it anyway. -You got it. -Yeah. Last time, we talked about “The Music Man,” and since then, obviously, Broadway closed. “Music Man” postponed till spring, but it’s still happening, right? -100%.

We go into rehearsals in February, and then we’ll open in May. -Wow. And how do you keep yourself ready? -I sing every day, drive my kids crazy. I’m up there singing every day. I do scene lessons every week. I do dance lessons with my, like, choreographer.

Sometimes, I do, like, the Broadway Dance Center, you know, just the $12.95. which is sometimes — I’ve got to say, sometimes, it’s humiliating, because there will be like 70 people in the class, and I don’t have my video on, obviously, but I do look, and it’s just basically 68 of them are teenage girls and me. And I think, “Is this weird? This is weird.” [ Both laugh ] But I do that occasionally. Then I sing.

I get with Patrick Vaccariello, my MD, and we’ll just sing through the theme, because I’m a working man. I’m like you. I’m a worker. -Yeah. -I like to work. -You’re a perfectionist. You always show up, and when you do, it’s a great job. I was actually looking at a bunch of your — I went in a deep dive and found some old head shots of yours.

I thought it would be kind of fun to maybe take a look and just say, like, what were you going through at that time. Does that sound okay? -Okay. Yeah, let’s do that. -Alright, check this out. First up, tell me about this guy.

What year was this? And what was he into? -1995. That was “Correlli.” The fake tats there. This was my first job that I did.

My wife was the star of it. And she used to say to me, “Don’t take the tats off. Take them home.” But, yeah, that was about a five-month job, and, so, we got together about two or three months in.

And — I don’t know. It does look a little porn, that — Yeah, I didn’t use that a lot. -I tried to pull off a kind of version of that, because I thought, like, I was really — You know, I love Paul McCartney, and I was in a phase where I was looking at all of his Wings stuff and how cool he looked. He kind of had that mullet, but, you know, shorter, hair up top. And I go, “I’m going to do that.” And it looks awful. -Can I see it? -No.

I actually banned it. -Oh, come on. Alright, if there’s anyone there, like, in the control room who’s stashed some — I just want to see it. If there’s anything there.

I’m just saying. -No, that’s- -Hey! -No, that’s just my — -Hey! -That’s just my first head shot. That’s what that one was. How do you have that lying around? That, I paid — That was next to, like, the local hardware store.

Some guy was like, “Yeah, we also do head shots.” And what role was I going for there? –Looks like the center part. Is that the center part? -Oh, that is such a center part. That took me forever. And who is going to laugh at this comedian?

He doesn’t look funny at all. -No, this is very dramatic. -He looks sad. -Dramatic. Yeah, it’s very Daniel Day-Lewis. What year is this, Jimmy? -Get that off!

I can’t even look at this. Let’s look at this head shot of you, this other one I found. Oh, I like it. That’s clean-cut. -Yeah, that’s Look at me, the Golden retriever.

That is, like, me at drama school. I’m like, “Yeah, I can do a commercial for a bank. What do you want?” -What do you guys want?

I’ll be right there. Sure. Whatever you guys want. -Being in drama school, everyone else just seemed way cooler.

They all looked like, you know, Jimmy Dean, Brando — leather jackets, smoking cigarettes. And look at me. I’m like a big golden retriever. Hi. This is so much fun.

I’ve got a monologue. Shall I do a monologue? -I love it, though. It’s great.

Well, last month marked 20 years since your debut as Wolverine in “X-Men.” -Yeah. -In fact, we found your original Wolverine audition from 1999. Let’s take a look at this. -Oh! -[ Chuckles ] I’m not like you. Listen, kid.

About the only thing you’ve done to endear yourself to me is to get me into a fight. So listen to me. Shut up. [ Imitates claw whooshing ] [ Both laugh ] -[ Imitates claw whooshing ] -Dude… -A little more magician than Wolverine. -Now, did that human know that you’d be playing that role for the next 17 years? -No. I — By the way, when I walked into that room, I was pretty sure that I wasn’t playing the role. It was like a — It was a weird audition, because Dougray Scott had the role, and then he got caught up on “Mission: Impossible 2,” but everyone thought that would get sorted.

But they said, “Look, we need a backup plan just in case.” So it was like this Hail Mary to begin with, which is probably the best way to do an audition. You’re going in like, “Eh.” And I remember thinking, “Alright, so I’m going in there. Literally, you showed a clip of about — That was — How long was that? 15 seconds?

I think the entire audition was about 20 seconds. It wasn’t much longer. -Wow! -And — Yeah, they were actually filming at that time. I went up — It was in Toronto. That was in one of the offices, and it was at lunchtime.

So, first of all, I never thought anything was happening with that. And I flew back that next day, and Kevin Feige took me — He drove me to the airport, who now runs Marvel, for those who don’t know him. He was one of the assistants there. And I said, “Dude, you don’t have to — Everyone knows I’m not getting the part.

Like, you don’t have to drive me to the airport.” And he goes, “No, I’ll drive you, and we’ll stop, grab some dinner.” I was like, “Dude, you don’t have to be that nice. Like, thank you. We all get it. We all understand.” So, who would have thought, nine years later — nine movies later, 20 years later, that that would have happened. I mean, honestly, in Hollywood, a mate of mine said to me, who’s quite high up in the business, and he said, “Dude, the word on the street is not good about the movie.

No one watches comic-book movies. They’re, like, dead. That thing’s gone forever.

Book another movie before it comes out. Like, just say you’re the lead in a big movie and try and book another movie. That way, at least you’ll get another shot.” So I did. I was just trying to get an audition, you know. -No way. I love those stories. -No one understood it was the beginning of — Like, Comic-Con was a 50,000-person thing.

The Internet was really just beginning. No one really understood. They thought — What they thought was, like, a subculture.

Comic books was actually mainstream, but no one knew that. -Gosh!

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