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"Lying on my bed bawling my eyes out, and I was supposed to get on a plane the next morning to Sydney and do this audition and be funny.."  -Guy Pearce before his audition for Dating the Enemy
 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Tuesday September 15, 2020 

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Andrew L. Urban talks to Paperback Hero star Hugh Jackman on location in outback Queensland and at a villa in Cannes, and finds him unaffected by the accolades coming his way.

The tall young bloke wearing a big smile, khaki shorts and dusty outback boots is the same bloke who hosted Australiaís Film Institute Awards on ABC television in a tuxedo, and who jumped on stage at Londonís National Theatre as Curly in Oklahoma for legendary stage director Trevor Nunn.

"Itís a very Australian thing, and thatís what I connected with."

The khaki shorts and dusty boots are for outback Queensland on the set of his first major film, Antony Bowmanís romantic comedy, Paperback Hero, in which he plays Jack, a novel-writing truck driver.

Talking about his role as Jack, Jackman says he was attracted to the script by its "lovely pace and energyÖitís a story of Jack eventually coming to terms with what he really is, his feelings and emotions. Itís a very Australian thing, and thatís what I connected with. He has a great sense of humour, and heís very comfortable with who he is at the start, but his life has to change, unbeknown to him at the time."

While in London for Oklahoma, Jackman had another gig to squeeze in, a Royal Command Charity Performance.

"weird to be sitting in the Queensland outback... † to sing in front of the Queen few weeks later"

"It was quite weird to be sitting in the Queensland outback and to be going off to sing in front of the Queen few weeks later," he says with a grin.

Jackman has frequently sung for his supper, of course, if not for the Queen; during 1997, for example, he was guest artist at Christmas Carols in Sydney, Melbourne and Wagga Wagga; he sang at the Melbourne Cup and at the Hopmann Cup; and he sang in the Chinese New Year, as well as the new model Holden sedan launch at Royal Pines Resort on the Gold Coast. For the Bledisloe Cup in Melbourne, he sang the National Anthem Ė not the one that played at the Royal Command Performance, of course.

It was also a year that singled him out as the most promising new talent in musical theatre, with two major awards for his role as Joe Gillis in Andrew Lloyd Webberís Really Useful Companyís production of Sunset Boulevard: the variety industryís peer-voted Mo Awards and the Variety Club Hearts Awards both voted him Musical Theatre Performer of the Year.

The role of Joe Gillis came hot on the heels of his role as Gaston in Kevin Jacobsenís Australian production of Beauty and The Beast in 1995-96.

"The scary thing was to put it into a setting where it became a real gamble"

Back in 1990, Jackman was training at the Sydney Dance Company and The Actorís Centre; by the mid 90s he was appearing in guest lead roles in the most popular Australian drama series, Blue Heelers, as well as The Man From Snowy River and Halifax f.p.

"I started acting when I was 22, but it was something I had always done as a hobby," Jackman says. "The scary thing was to put it into a setting where it became a real gamble and really go for it. I then decided to study formally when I was offered a role in Neighbours, and went to WAAPA (Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts)."

But Paperback Hero was not in fact Jackmanís first feature film: that honour goes to Erskinville Kings, a drama about two brothers reunited by their fatherís death, after years apart. The low budget film was made by Los Angeles based Australian, Alan White and launched to international buyers at the American Film Market at the end of February (1999) prior to an Australian release later in the year.

"Unpretentious, unaffected and generous..."

While in the London stage for Oklahoma, Jackman was able to hop on a plane to fly to Cannes during the 1998 film festival for a private party in a villa overlooking the Mediterranean, where a short clip from Paperback Hero (then in post production) was screened for invited guests (this writer included). Jackman, accompanied his wife, actress Deborra-Lee Furness, took it all in his (long) stride. Unpretentious, unaffected and generous, he is at once a manís man and recognisably Australian, while being charming and talented. Some people are saying he will be a very big star very soon.

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Hugh Jackman


with Claudia

with wife Deborra-Lee Furness & Lance Reynolds in Cannes

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