Wolverine talks up PM at public opinion falls
Hugh Jackman and Julia Gillard at a press conference ahead of the start of filming The Wolverine. Picture: AP

As public opinion of Prime Minister Julia Gillard drops to near record lows, perhaps the Labor leader should try her luck in Hollywood.

The PM attended a press conference in Sydney today for The Wolverine with Aussie actor Hugh Jackman and director James Mangold and talk turned to whether Ms Gillard would appear in the movie.

“Well it’s not a traditional role,” Jackman joked.

“It’s a stunt double role for myself. She just did a quick audition, she’s incredible.”

The actor unknowingly dropped a double entendre about Ms Gillard, saying she was “handy with the sword”.

“I don’t know if you know of her martial arts background,” he said.

“The movie is set in Japan and she really is handy with the sword and with the nunchucks.”

The latest Newspoll puts Labor’s primary vote at 28 per cent - the lowest in three months and only two points off the record low set in September 2011.

A journalist piped up at the press conference, asking Jackman about the subject.

“Hugh, you’re good at getting bums on seats. Any advice for the Prime Minister?” he said.

Jackman laughed it off, saying, “I think I’ll let that one go through the keeper”.

Jackman also expressed his sadness following the mass shooting at a US screening of The Dark Knight Rises.

“All I can echo is the sorrow I feel for the families, the community, for everybody,” he says.

“It’s an issue that goes way beyond, obviously beyond acting, beyond film or anything like that.

“This is just a tragedy on a level that we have experienced in Australia many years ago in Tasmania and it’s devastating and I can’t comment on (it) anymore than as a human being and my feelings for those people involved.”

Jackman was sporting a red right eye, but it wasn’t because of training for the action movie, but rather “a very energetic game of tag with my kids“, which he thinks burst a blood vessel.

Jackman says it wasn’t easy getting back into shape for the part, particularly coming from his last role as Jean Valjean in Les Miserables.

“That was a particular challenge because Les Mis, I had to start at 83 kilos and I finished at about 97 kilos by the end of the movie,” he says.

“We did have a holiday recently, but it was more like boot camp for me. But the kids and Deb (his wife, actress Deborra-Lee Furness) were happy.”

Shooting of The Wolverine is scheduled to start in Sydney on July 30, after a number of setbacks for the sequel to X-Men Origins: Wolverine.

Last March, director Darren Aronofsky left the project, and Mangold stepped in to replace him. Then the shoot, which was originally meant to be in Japan, was postponed last October because of weather conditions.

Mangold says The Wolverine is based on a series of comics that detail the mutant’s journeys in Japan and he refuted reports that Jessica Biel had turned down the lead role of Viper.

“The story couldn’t be more of a fantasy frankly, in terms of what I was reading, so it was nothing more than a list of people we were considering and still are,” he says.

Jackman, who has played Wolverine now in five different movies over the past 12 years, says he takes the movies on one at a time.

For The Wolverine, he saw the screenplay and was sold.

“I feel like a golfer, always looking for a hole in one and I thought this was the best script we’ve had,” he says.

The West Australian

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