Hugh Jackman: On the set of X-men 2

Wolverine's got sharp claws, heightened senses, unbreakable bones, a mutant healing power and, on the set of this summer's "X-Men 2," just one rule: don't touch the hair.
Wolverine's got sharp claws, heightened senses, unbreakable bones, a mutant healing power and, on the set of this summer's "X-Men 2," just one rule: don't touch the hair.

Three years ago, then-unknown actor Hugh Jackman had some help with Wolverine's pointy hairdo and shaggy sideburns, but for the sequel to 2000's "X-Men" the 34-year-old Australian has sworn off fake hair.

"This is all Hugh Jackman," he bragged, pointing to his dome while relaxing between takes in Vancouver, British Columbia. "Let me tell you, this may look ridiculous to you now, but when I'm not in uniform it looks particularly ridiculous. If you're going around Vancouver, [you might see] my stunt double and my stand-in, all with these very silly muttonchops going on. And when this [hair] doesn't have two cans of hairspray in it, I look like Moe from the Three Stooges. It's all just exactly the same length. So it is me, uh, sacrificing for my art."

Director Bryan Singer's take on the comic book tale of mutants and their struggle to coexist in a world that hates and fears them was a smash. "X-Men 2" reunites many of the first movie's cast members — Jackman, Halle Berry, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, Famke Janssen and Rebecca Romijn-Stamos among them — while introducing new characters, like Alan Cumming as Nightcrawler.

With Wolverine being the most popular character in the 30-year history of the "X-Men," it was no surprise that Jackman was the film version's breakout star. "X2" promises an even juicer role for Wolverine, including a detailed look into his mysterious past and even a little romance. There's so much demand for Wolvie, he may even get his own movie. But more on that later.

"I've got a much bigger trailer and I've got an entourage now," joked Jackman, who's made two romantic comedies and an action flick since his "X-Men" debut. "It is bigger, actually, in every way. Fox has given [the movie] more money. The action is twice as good, twice as much. I think it's more intense. My character certainly kicks some ass — a lot more butt kicking than I did in the first one, which is always good. It's good therapy. And I think it's funnier. I have to say it's a better movie than the first one. You get to explore the characters in a deeper way and the story in a deeper way."

And there's nothing like a little mortal peril to kick off such exploration. "It starts with an assassination attempt on the president by a mutant," Jackman revealed. "So the whole world of the film is automatically ramped up to another level, where every mutant, whether it's Magneto [or Professor] Xavier, every mutant is wanted, to be round up and registered and corralled. And there's almost a war going on with the humans.

"And you cut to my character," he continued. "[I'm] going off to Alberta and going through the woods to find out about my past."

Wolverine is haunted by his fragmented memories — some of them real, many of them artificially implanted. He knows very little about his past, not even a real name beyond "Logan." Lab tests show he's much older than he appears. But where did he come from? Who put the unbreakable adamantium metal over his bones and his claws? At the end of "X-Men," we saw Wolverine take off from Professor Xavier's New York mutant school, headed toward Canada on a motorcycle in search of answers. And in "X2," we see what happens.

"Xavier's led me up there [and] there's a decent clue that's led to this base, Alkali Lake base," Jackman said. "And the fans will know what this is about. And this definitely [draws] inspiration from 'Weapon X,' which is one of the all-time great 'X-Men' comics. And you find out a lot. As the movie goes on, Wolverine finds out more and more. He's having a lot of flashbacks still. 'What's going on?' He's starting to remember more. And then he gets to confront the person who changed him into Wolverine."

Not only will the story ring familiar with fans of the Wolverine mythos, but so will the set. When Logan arrives in Alberta onscreen, sharp-eyed viewers will be able to spot the many nods to Marvel Comics lore that set designers included in the "Weapon X" facility. An X-ray of Angel's wings here, a Stark Industries logo there, John Proudstar's name on a morgue locker door.

Wolverine's head-on collision with his murky past is sure to be an action-packed confrontation. But that's not all that "X2" has in store for the self-described "Canucklehead." If producer Tom DeSanto gets his way, Logan will also throw around the word "bub," as in "you'd better back off, bub." It's a word Logan uses in the comics more often than Ja Rule screams "Murda!"

"It wasn't written into the [original 'X-Men'] script," Jackman explained. "Tom, in every scene, kept saying, 'Can we put "bub" in there?' And Bryan was like, 'I don't know, it's gonna sound weird.' But I just kept ad-libbing it, so I think it ended up [in there] once. And there's definitely one time, maybe twice, in this movie. So if it gets cut out, it's not my fault."

Wolverine may also get the chance to say, "I love you." "X2" will delve into the romantic triangle between Wolvie, Jean Gray and Cyclops that was hinted at in the first film.

"Talk about unbridled passion," promised Janssen, who incidentally still wears a wig when playing Gray. "It's a PG-13 movie, so it's not like we're going to take our clothes off or we're completely butt-naked in the film. But there's some passion expressed. I'm not saying who, with whom, or with what, but something, yeah."

"There is some heat," Jackman said. "Wolverine's not patient, you know. He's not gonna hang around and be polite. So things definitely heat up. Cyclops and Wolverine are more distant than ever. And Jean and Wolverine are, uh, perhaps closer than ever. And things certainly come to the brink. There's some hot and heavy stuff going on. I can't tell you any more."

Hugh can spill a bit more about a possible "Wolverine" solo movie. Wolvie has his own comic book title, so why not his own movie? A Fox studio representative said such a prospect, in lieu of a full-blown "X-Men 3," could be ideal from a cost standpoint — fewer stars, of course, means a lower budget. And Singer, for one, is open to the idea.

"It all depends on the story," the director explained. "Do I have an idea for a story, and that kind of thing. It would take some conversation, but ultimately any opportunity to work with Hugh Jackman is very appealing to me. He's awesome. He's an absolute pleasure to work with and a great guy and friend."

Jackman has ideas. "I think there's a great window from when we met Wolverine, which was 15 years after he was turned into Wolverine. It was 15 years when he was on his own, in fact, without
0 Yes
0 No