Hugh Jackman – Acting Advice
Hugh Jackman, an Australian actor legend, sat down to give some great advice after the phenomenal success of The Greatest Showman. Here are the top takeaways. Get amongst it.
Find out who the director of the film is.
Hugh’s interview starts with a discussion about trust, collaboration and the director.
“You must be able trust the director and know that they will push you to the limit… They give you freedom within these boundaries, sort of like parenting.”
Your character is the director’s lifeline, especially in film. As an actor, you must be able to trust them and their vision. They must communicate what they want and be willing to work with them to get it. Before you accept a job, do your research on the director. Please take a look at their past work and have a coffee with them to get to know each other. It’s unlikely that you will be able to connect with the director if you feel uncomfortable or it’s too strange.
“The last thing you want in front the camera is doubt.”
The viewers on the other side are like circling sharks. But instead of smelling blood in the water, they smell doubt in their performer. Jackman said that doubt is the worst thing to ever do in front of a camera. Uncertainty, inability to make choices and inability to follow directions are signs of a performer who is struggling. This is why it is important to prepare. It’s great to be spontaneous but not be too unsure about yourself.
“Be friendly to all.”
“In Australia, everyone talks to everybody. If they aren’t making fun of your character they probably don’t like it. I prefer to feel like we’re all in this together.”
This is especially true in Australia, but it applies everywhere. Be friendly to all cast members and crew. A diva is not something anyone likes, and it’s completely unprofessional in today’s industry. Jackman also has a point about Australian sets. If you are not treated with respect by your crew, likely, you won’t be the most beloved person on the set. It is important to be a team player when acting. So try your best to fit in with the culture of your film set. Everyone works towards the same goal: to make a great movie.
“I used to enter auditions as if they were my first rehearsal.”
“It was my method of redressing power balance like I’m trying hard to please you but it’s more like that we are trying together to work together.”
In this interview, he tells a story about how he approached a casting and had a very personal interpretation of the role. He approached the audition as if it was his first rehearsal. Encourage casting professionals to join him at this moment. Jackman said that this made him less nervous and helped him to feel more relaxed.
“I spent a lot of time working on the physical aspects Wolverine.”
“Movement has always been very important to me, I will spend hours walking around in a character.”
This is a glimpse into Jackman’s creative process. Jackman said that he worked from his feet up, sometimes with his head down, and spent hours on the character’s physicality. His work shines through when you see the strong physicality he displays as Wolverine in the X-Men series. This is a wonderful example of how high performance and cinema seamlessly work together. It is worth a look.
“Just because something feels uncomfortable doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not good.”
“We want to feel comfortable. But that doesn’t always lead to the best results.”
This is a common refrain that every coach, director, and acting teacher will repeat. Acting isn’t about feeling good. Acting isn’t about having catharsis. It’s about being a character and telling stories. This story may require you to feel awkward, weird, or upset. It would help if you stepped out of your comfort zone. You should not feel comfortable performing Hamlet for more than three hours. You should find it challenging and sometimes uncomfortable. That is perfectly normal.
Don’t believe me? Jackman was given the quote by Sir Ian McKellan, who used it while working on the first X-Men movie!
It’s OK to feel nervous.
“Say it, it was hard to hide for 20 years. It is usually relieving to all around you.”
Recently, I learned that everyone is nervous. Everyone is nervous, whether it’s the director or the producers or the other actors. Everyone is nervous. And if you say you are fine, it makes everyone even more nervous. Talk about it. You will find that everyone understands and will likely feel relieved to hear your feelings.