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Acting Advice from ‘The Greatest Showman’ Hugh Jackman

June 19, 2018

Australian actor Hugh Jackman certainly has a can-do spirit. Besides acting, he sings, plays several instruments, dances, hosts, and produces films. Jackman is also known for the versatility of the roles he plays; he’s a great fit in romantic comedies, superhero movies, action-horror films, dramas, musicals, mystery thrillers as well as giving voice to animated-film characters. In this British Academy of Film and Television Awards’ Guru video clip, the multi-talented star shares acting advice about the importance of ridding any and all performance doubts in addition to discussing some of the cultural differences between the Australian and American film industries.

When it comes to working with various directors throughout his career, Jackman feels that communication is key. The Wolverine star says, “I’m open. I talk about my process to them, I talk about how I’m feeling, I talk about questions I have–even stupid questions. I will always get them out because I think the last thing you ever want to have in front of the camera is doubt–in any way, shape, or form–about the character you’re playing, about what story you’re trying to tell, or about what you’re trying to achieve.”

In fact, it seems that Jackman has a real fear of fear itself. Previously he said, “I’ve always felt that if you back down from a fear, the ghost of that fear never goes away. It diminishes people. So I’ve always said yes to the thing I’m most scared about. The fear of letting myself down–of saying no to something that I was afraid of and then sitting in my room later going, ‘I wish I’d had the guts to say this or that’–that galvanizes me more than anything.”

Thus, Jackman is a big fan of putting himself in uncomfortable situations. Some of his favorite personal performances are those in which he had to overcome nerves, and in doing so, took more risks than he otherwise would have. 

“I would say to young actors, ‘It’s okay, be nervous. Say you’re nervous. For twenty years, I never did. I hid it; I tried to hide it. Say it. And it’s usually relieving–maybe not on the 20th take, but certainly, when you walk in, it’s fine.”

Hugh enjoys being friendly on set with all members of the cast and crew. He explains why he prefers the emotional climate that is common on the shoots in his homeland down under. According to Jackman, in the Australian film industry, “Everyone talks to everyone. If they’re not making fun of you, then they really don’t like you.” He contrasts this social aspect with his work in the states, saying:

When I first went to America, I noticed there was an unspoken … slightly unwritten rule of ‘Leave the actor alone, let them do their thing.’ It could be our process, it could because we’re a star, I don’t know. And I always try literally on the first day to break that down because I feel self-conscious in that environment. I’d much prefer a grip making fun of me than calling me ‘Mr. Jackman,” and then say nothing at all; they say, ‘Thank you, it’s been great working with you.’ You know, I’d much prefer to feel that we’re in it together.”

Jackman’s is best known for his long-running role as Wolverine/Logan in the X-Men series, along with his Golden Globe-winning role as Jean Valjean in the film Les Miserables  for which he also received an Oscar nod. More recently, he portrayed the ambitious showman and entrepreneur P.T. Barnum in the musical The Greatest Showman for which he received a Golden Globe nomination. In addition, Jackman took home a Tony award for his theater work in The Boy from Oz.

What Audience Behavior Do You Find Most Annoying?

July 12, 2015

Whether a performer is acting, doing comedy, singing, playing an instrument or dancing before a live audience, he or she hopes to get absorbed in the material and to some degree forget people are observing. But how can a performer focus well when an audience member is continually talking, checking texts, or hasn’t turned off the ringer on a cellphone?

Well, Broadway veteran Patti LuPone has had enough of rude audience behavior! During a recent evening performance in New York City, she was distracted by a member of the audience who was texting while the Tony Award-winning actress was attempting to sing her heart out. “We work hard on stage to create a world that is being totally destroyed by a few, rude, self-absorbed, and inconsiderate audience members who are controlled by their phones. They cannot put them down,” LuPone said in a statement to Playbill.com.

So how did LuPone handle the situation? Remaining true to her character while playing the role of an artistic director, she keenly found an opportunity to make a dramatic statement. That is, at the part where she normally interacts with people who are sitting in the front row, the 66-year-old actress instead headed toward the woman who was holding the glowing LED screen. “I shook her hand with one hand and took her phone with the other. Took it. I didn’t grab. I thought, ‘Holy s*@#, that was easy,'” she said to the New York Daily News.

LuPone confessed, “I am so defeated by this issue that I seriously question whether I want to work on stage anymore. Now I’m putting battle gear on over my costume to marshall the audience as well as perform.” Indeed, this is not the first time the famous actress has confronted an audience member. In 2009, she stopped the show mid-song in the musical Gypsy. “Stop taking pictures right now! You heard the announcement. Who do you think you are?!” She demanded, and was met with enthusiastic claps from some in the audience.

There seems to be a steady stream of complaints from performers about inconsiderate behaviors originating from just one or two of those present who negatively impact the majority of viewers and the performers. During a particularly intimate and poignant scene in A Steady Rain, Hugh Jackman stopped mid-scene when a cell phone repeatedly rang; staying in character he told the offending person to answer his or her phone. In another instance, conservative writer Kevin Williams reacted to a woman’s speaking on her cell phone during a performance by taking it and chucking it across the New York theater and into the curtains. And earlier this month, just before the production started, a man in the audience tried to charge his phone using a fake on-stage electrical outlet at Broadway’s Hand to God. In turn, an announcement was made for the owner of the phone to come retrieve his phone. Now that’s a walk of shame! With the advent of modern technology, ushers are increasingly being put in the tricky position of policing paying customers over what would seem to be clearly unacceptable behavior for a theater setting.

So, in your experience, what has bothered you the most: Clapping or yelling out at inappropriate times, excessive coughing or talking, camera flashes, late entrances or early departures, someone shushing too loudly, or maybe seemingly endless crinkling of plastic packaging? And what do you think is the best way to handle these situations?