Hugh Jackman Discusses "The Prestige"

Hugh Jackman stars in "The Prestige.". © Touchstone Pictures

Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale star as magicians engaged in a bitter war of one-upmanship in the dramatic thriller, The Prestige.

Although geeks around the world would rather see the two square off as Wolverine and Batman, The Prestige offers the opportunity for both actors to put aside their comic book-based characters and engage in a little magic. But that didn’t mean the two actors never discussed their high-profile roles while on the set.

“I do remember Christian and I sitting there having an interesting discussion, waiting for a scene,” recalled Jackman. “We're in our directors' chairs and I don't know how it turned there, but we did turn into the, ‘So what did you get on your contract? Like on the second one, what did you get?’ Which is a problematic discussion, because we share the same agent. So this is a discussion agents don't want their clients to be having.”

Hugh Jackman’s an Admirer of Magicians: “I was reading about Houdini just for my own pleasure before this, so maybe there's something serendipitous about that. I find the world fascinating, particularly, actually, this era - which is that Houdini era - because magicians were the movie stars, rock stars of the day. There was an incredible contract with the audience at that time. I don't know if you're aware, but in America, spiritualism was an even larger religion or way of thought than Christianity.

Magicians were seen as very real kind of mediators between the other world and this world. People bought into the magician's shtick, really, whereas now they don't. I think the only thing that is really similar now might be mind-reading. The magicians who do mind-reading stuff...I think people are genuinely amazed by that, and might actually think that there's something real going on there.

But most stuff, people know it's a trick. They're just sort of interested in how it's done.”

On-Stage vs Off-Stage: Which scenes were more fun for Jackman to perform in The Prestige? “Actually, I did love the stage stuff. I loved it all. I did a lot of work with Ricky Jay and Michael Weber on the style of performance. I really modeled my character, in terms of style, on a guy called Channing Pollock, who was a magician of the '50s and actually became a movie star in France later. He was American, I think - or maybe English. That's sort of who I modeled him on. But I enjoyed it a lot. And of course, without giving too much away, I don't know how much you can reveal, but I play a character that [gotcha - deleted because of possible spoilers].”

Mastering the Slight of Hand: “Yeah, there's one trick I did. You know, the one where the lead shot disappears. That one I did. I can do. But I have to have that particular bullet. (Laughing) I couldn't do it with [anything else].”

Working with Michael Caine: Caine plays Jackman’s mentor in The Prestige and working with the acclaimed actor was, according to Jackman, amazing. “I learned a lot. You learn a lot from working with someone like Michael.

I remember at drama school...I don't know if you've ever seen Michael Caine's one-hour video on filmmaking? I was talking to him all about that and then I would keeping asking him more questions, he'd just keep giving me the little techniques all the time.

As far as being incredibly funny and easy going...I think it was his birthday. We had a big birthday party. He enjoys his food and wine. He taught me how to make good chips. I didn't know he had 22 restaurants. You’ve got to double fry them in hot oil - really hot oil, and then normal hot oil. Different types of oil. You’ve got to do it slow, and then semi-hot oil first, and then you gotta take them out and put them in the fresh oil really hot. That gets them crisp on the outside. Michael goes into restaurants all over the world, fancy, fancy restaurants, it doesn't matter.

If he orders chips and they're right, he'll go in and tell them that. He owns 22 restaurants. But he's just a great raconteur, great person to be around, fun, and adorable.

I remember one take, he did something and the crew laughed. He goes, ‘I need one more,’ which is not like Michael, by the way. (Laughing) And I said, ‘Why do you want one more?’ He goes, ‘The crew were laughing. It's not going to work on film. It's too big.’”

Page 2: On Christian Bale, The Fountain and X-Men 4

Page 2

Hugh Jackman’s Take on His The Prestige Co-Star Christian Bale: Although he may come off as a very serious man, Bale does have his lighter side. “I would think it’s fair to say, he’s fairly low-key, as is Chris Nolan. Fairly low-key in they're just very relaxed. But Christian, no. He's got a very cheeky sense of humor, and quite naughty, but very relaxed. He's got a baby, I've got a baby, so we had play dates together and hung out.

I admire Christian because he feels no compulsion to be anything other than who he is. It doesn't matter. Ever since Batman, he's become a big sort of star and box office. He's exactly the same kind of actor he always was, which I think is incredibly truthful and very dedicated, and unbelievably fearless. I mean, if you look at what he tackles as an actor, it's kind of extraordinary.”

Action, Comedy, Romance, and Straight Drama: Jackman’s ready and willing to tackle most any genre. “I want to do a bit of everything. I want to open up as many doors as I can, basically. I feel like I’m in a good position now. I feel like I'm probably in a good a position as anyone to audition and get movies made. I'm not saying I'm Brad Pitt or Leonardo DiCaprio, but I think I'm fairly blessed (laughing)."

Coming Soon – Darren Aronofsky’s The Fountain: “I loved it. I'm incredibly proud of the movie. I'm thrilled that in some of the lead up there's been controversy, because I expect nothing less from a Darren Aronofsky movie.

(Laughing) Someone was just saying to me, ‘I heard the movie was booed in Venice.’ Well, the truth was, at that press screening, about 80% of the people gave it a standing ovation, about 20% of the people booed, and a fight began between the press. Two of them had to be pulled apart. And I thought, ‘That's a great story!

Why wasn't that story told?’ That's exactly how the movie, I think, will be seen.”

There will be no middle-of-the-road reactions to . People will either love it or hate it but Jackman says he’s taken aback by intense, negative reactions. “I'm shocked, actually, that people are passionately against it. But that's fine. I think it's a confronting movie, but I think regardless of what you think of the content, it's visually amazing production-wise. I think it'd be hard to deny that it deserves attention, even if you don't like the subject matter. But hey, that's just me.”

What’s Happening on the X-Men Front? Jackman says there’s no word yet on the possibility of an X-Men 4. “No, but there's a script for Wolverine.” The follow-up question to that response would be is Wolverine going to fight Batman? “I want to say yes, just because it'd be fun to see the reverberations of that, but...”