Hugh Jackman must be the envy of his drama school’s graduating class. Between the opening of Real Steel this weekend and the end of 2013 he’ll star in six films ranging from The Wolverine’s high octane action and the high notes of Les Misérables to the high comedy of Movie 43.
It seems apt that he’ll also soon be starring in The Greatest Showman on Earth because he can do it all — in between action movies he can out-sing-and-dance anyone on the circuit — but it wasn’t always that way.
“When I started acting I was the dunce of the class,” he says.
Success in school, he says, came because of his work ethic, a trait he picked up from his father.
“He never took one day off in his life,” he says. “Now, he had five kids he was bringing up on his own. If anyone deserved a day off it was my old man, but he never did. I learned that from him.
“There’s always that feeling of, ‘I have to work harder than everybody else. I’m not born Phillip Seymour Hoffman. I’ve got to just work harder and I’m prepared to do it.”
Being the youngest of five children also contributed to his outlook. “I always wanted to do stuff and not be left out,” he says, but adds, “I was quite a fearful kid, which I hated.
“I’ve always had a fear of fear. It’s a weird to think back now but drama school, it is a pressure kind of situation. People get kicked out of drama school. You are constantly being judged on how you are doing, are you progressing, are you not.
“Almost everyday you had to get up and do a monologue. Sing a song. Do it in front of everybody.
“I noticed I was always first. I never wanted to sit there waiting.
“I’m not saying that out of courage. It was too uncomfortable to sit, stewing. I don’t think I’ve told anyone else that.”
Later, fear of unemployment pushed him to expand his talents.
“When I came out of drama school I was like, ‘I’m going to do anything I can just to keep working.’ In drama school you do Shakespeare to movement to circus skills to singing all in one morning. I know a lot of people hated it but I reveled in it. I loved it. It’s weird how it evolved.”