Hugh Jackman: A Little More Song and Dance, Then “Wolverine”

Hugh Jackman promises he’ll be popping his claws as Wolverine at least once more ASAP – after a little more song and dance.

Jackman tells PopcornBiz he’ll “absolutely” be back in the X-Men’s most popular mutant’s muttonchops once he’s completed filming director Tom Hooper’s big screen adaptation of the Broadway musical “Les Miserables." Director James Mangold (“Walk the Line,” “3:10 to Yuma”) has signed on to helm the reboot-ish, not-quite-sequel to "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" titled simply, “The Wolverine.”

“If it wasn’t for ‘Les Miserables,’ now that Jim is on board we’re kind of ready to go,” says Jackman, who currently stars in this past weekend's box office champ“Real Steel." “For ‘The Wolverine’ to work, we would have had to have started ‘Les Miserables’ yesterday, so we couldn’t quite make that when we needed to so it will happen strait after.”

Mangold stepped in to fill the slot left by departing director Darren Aronofsky, with whom Jackman previously made “The Fountain.” “It was going to be Darren but his personal life excluded him from doing the movie,” says the actor. “I asked him to do ‘X-Men 3,’ I asked him to do ‘Wolverine 1’ and he said that was not for him. I showed him the script for this, he read it and said that it was the best comic book movie script that he had ever read. He’s been dying to do one for a long time.”

The actor’s confident that Mangold will perfectly realize what Jackman thinks is the best big screen Wolverine story arc to date. “Many directors wanted to do this film, I’m happy to say, because of the strength of the script,” he says. “When James came in he just had such a clear vision of where this should go. He had the best take, and he’s done many genres and many things. When I look at ‘3:10 to Yuma,’ and when he started talking about ‘The Outlaw Josey Wales,’ I was like ‘Now I think we are on the right track!’ Then he had a couple of things that even in Darren’s version of the script hadn’t been solved. He just knew he had the key.”

The story, he says, is “a little darker than what we’ve seen and I think a little more true to the character,” in large part because it was inspired the landmark 1982 comic book miniseries by legendary “X-Men” writer Chris Claremont and iconic artist Frank Miller, as well as follow-up plotlines.

“The Japanese saga,” Jackman calls it. “But if you read all of that there is a lot of it that is a little disparate, and some of it has X-Men in it, and there is a wedding if you know all that, so we take license in that.”

“This time I feel more than anything we really nailed down that character,” Jackman explains, putting much of Wolverine’s mysterious origins behind him to simply focus on his role in the new adventure. “I think for the audience and myself and the writers, it was like ‘Enough of my memory, who am I, what happened in my past?’ We kind of explored that enough. Now it’s this great backdrop of Japan, which is going to be fantastic for this character. It’s a very rich source of material in the comic book, and there’s more ladies in this movie. It’s a nice change from the last one. It was very testosterone-heavy.”

Jackman says while there’s more time for him as Logan ahead, he’s fairly certain there’s no “X4” in the future. “I don’t see it happening,” he says. “I can only see one movie ahead. I can only go one at a time, but if this is the last one – fingers crossed –we’re just going to finally get that hole in one.”

He did love his split-second reprisal of the role in this year’s “X-Men: First Class,” a stint he wasn’t sure would ever come to pass. “They asked me to do that cameo a year before I did it and I said, alright, teach me the concept,” he reveals. “I thought, I kind of like that. I said is anyone else swearing in the movie? They said, we don’t think so, and I said promise no one else swears in the movie and I’m in. I was like, ‘Perfect – this is great,’ because 50% of Wolverine’s dialogue should be ‘f**k.’ That feels right for me and that particular take was a little ad-lib that I did at the end.”

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