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Hugh Jackman Real Steel Interview
Hugh Jackman Real Steel Interview
Hugh Jackman has been a staple of the action movie genre since he ripped his way through the cinema screen with his adamantium claws as Wolverine in the very first X-Men film. Having gone on to star in the likes of Van Helsing, The Prestige, Australia and the rest of the X-Men series, he’s now taking a rather back seat role in the action department as his latest character Charlie trains robot for the ring in a futuristic world where only automatons compete at boxing.

Talking to View’s Matthew Turner, he and Real Steel director Shawn Levy, alongside co-producer Susan Montford, spoke about their love of boxing movies, making the move from comedy to action, training to the Rocky theme tune and the best way to make sure your crew all turn up on a Friday.
Rather than go the all-CGI route like in Transformers, you use real, physical robots in this film. Did that help with the performance?

Hugh Jackman

Absolutely. The robots were limited in that they couldn’t walk, but when still, they are exactly as you see them in the movie. They are incredible and we believed they were real. Imagine what it was like for Dakota Goyo, being an eleven-year-old, just extraordinary, and exactly as you see in the movie – a dream come true. We had the Avatar team working on this movie, taking it to the next level, as opposed to being in a green screen room for Avatar, we were in real locations and we knew exactly what was going on, and Shawn directed every visual effect.
Susan, Real Steel is based on a story by Richard Matheson and also a Twilight Zone episode, can you talk about adapting that into a feature film?

Susan Montford

We absolutely fell in love with the story and the Twilight Zone episode, and originally we envisaged it being a little more hardcore, but then we ended up with Dreamworks and after a very long development process, of around seven years, Steven Spielberg found Shawn and brought him in, who immediately took the screenplay to a whole new level, as he found that beautiful Rocky moment, that moment that had been missing in every single script, and we just knew at that point that we were in the hands of the greatest director.

Shawn Levy

I love how you worded that Steven found me, I feel like Atom [the robot in the movie] in the junkyard of comedy, discovered in the mud and muck of comedy, dragged out of the earth ... Although I actually feel that’s true to some extent!
I feel that audiences are not ready for a paunchy Hugh Jackman, in a robot boxing movie...
So you weren’t interested in going down the hardcore route Shawn?

Shawn Levy

I was actually interested in two things that are often not combined, but I was and I am trying in the movie to combine them, which is robot fights that are legitimate and visceral and violent, but to do that within a movie that is primarily humanist and really more of an underdog redemption movie, than just robot spectacle.
Hugh, was one of the appeals of this film that for once someone else got to do the fighting for you?

Hugh Jackman

Yeah it was kinda nice not to do all the action, I must admit. I rang Shawn and said, “Shawn, I play an ex-boxer, I think we should go for it. I’ve met Mike Tyson and he still looks formidable but he looks a little softer and …” Don’t tell him this please – but anyway I turned up a month before shooting, twenty pounds overweight, and Shawn said, “That realism thing, let’s just pull that way back.”

Shawn Levy

I just feel that audiences are not ready for a paunchy Hugh Jackman, in a robot boxing movie.
Shawn you mentioned that you have a comedic background and this is obviously a drama – was it a deliberate decision for you to break away that genre?

Shawn Levy

Yeah I had been waiting for an opportunity and it came in the form of this phone call from Dreamworks from Steven, and I really feel privileged that the success that I’ve had with the comedies lead to this opportunity, and it was a radically different experience directing a non-comedy, but very, very gratifying.

Hugh Jackman

I always remember our first conversation because he said, “Look, Hugh, if you look at all the movies I’ve done, nothing will tell you that I should be making this movie, but here is my vision …” And I was so blown away by it, I knew 100% that Shawn knew how to make this movie, and he took it from what was already there to another universe, let alone another level, so from that moment I felt complete trust in his hands and he is one of the greatest directors I’ve worked with on all fronts.

What I was going to say, quickly, was that one of the revelations of the movies which I’m sure you’ll agree is Dakota. He was phenomenal in the part and so great to work with, and I really love the boy, he’s such a great kid and actor, and I am so happy for him that his first movie is with Shawn, because I’ve never seen anyone work with kids like Shawn. Dakota finished this film, I know, forever different and forever the better version of himself because of Shawn.
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Content updated: 12/11/2019 08:24

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