Hugh Jackman is one of those rare performers with different faces.
For the populist filmgoers, their image of Jackman is likely as the mighty Wolverine from nine of the 10 “X-Men” films. With the ability to slice and dice bad guys with a mere swing of his razor-fingered hand, Jackman is still brought a moodiness and, at times, sadness to the character that has only endeared him more to audiences.
Jackman has also been smart enough (or lucky enough) to work with several great directors early in their careers — Darren Aronofsky (“The Fountain”), Christopher Nolan (“The Prestige”) and Denis Villeneuve (“Prisoners”), creating in each film some of the most startling work of his career.
Jackman’s most honored film performance to date has been his dark Jean Valjean in Tom Hooper‘s “Les Miserables,” for which he won his first Golden Globe Award and received his first Oscar and SAG Awards nominations. It’s ironic that these honors came to Jackman for his only film musical, because there are legions of Broadway fans who only know Jackman as a song-and-dance man.
In fact, Jackman first came to worldwide public notice on the stage in a highly-acclaimed, widely-seen performance as Curly in a 1998 London production of “Oklahoma!” After spending a few years establishing his film credentials, Jackman came to Broadway in a big way with his flamboyant portrayal of Peter Allen in the musical comedy “The Boy From Oz,” winning a 2004 Tony Award for his efforts. He even returned to New York in 2011 for a successful song-and-dance one-man show, “Hugh Jackman: Back on Broadway.”
So it was probably inevitable that the two worlds of Jackman would finally meet on film, with the release of the all-singing, all-dancing original 2017 musical “The Greatest Showman,” in which Jackman plays legendary creative showman P.T. Barnum. The Hollywood Foreign Press Association has already given “The Greatest Showman” a nomination for Best Picture and Jackman his third Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor.
Let’s take a look back and rank the 12 best and worst screen performances. Click through our Jackman photo gallery above.
12. SWORDFISH (2001)
Jackman stars as Stanley Jobson, a skilled computer hacker who ihas been recently released from prison, but is forbidden from a touching a computer via the terms of his parole. That doesn’t stop a gang of high-tech thieves (John Travolta, Halle Berry) from recruiting him from joining their scheme to siphon off billions of dollars from a secret government slush fund.
11. VAN HELSING (2004)
“Van Helsing” tackles the “Dracula” story from the monster hunter’s point-of-view. Jackman’s Gabriel Van Helsing is a vampire hunter and a mercenary for the Roman Catholic Church. His latest assignment is to track down and kill Dracula.
10. KATE AND LEOPOLD (2001)
Portraying His Grace Leopold Alexis Elijah Walker Gareth Thomas Mountbatten, 3rd Duke of Albany, Jackman bring all of his royal attitude to the role in a time-travel story in which the 19th century royal is transported to the 21st century and falls for a cynical career woman (Meg Ryan), the concept of which has never crossed his mind.
9. AUSTRALIA (2008)
Set in the early days of World War II, Baz Luhrmann‘s historical romance focuses on British aristocrat Lady Sarah Ashley (Nicole Kidman), who travels from England to northern Australia to force her husband to sell their failing cattle ranch. However, he is murdered just before she arrives, and while capitalist vultures surround her trying to snatch her ranch, an independent cattle drover (Jackman) comes to her aid.
8. REAL STEEL (2011)
In this futuristic sports/family drama set in 2020, boxing is still a popular sport, but human boxers have now been replaced by robots, which humans own. Jackman is former boxer Charlie Kenton who, after he bet heavily on his robot winning a match, now owes carnival owner big bucks.
7. THE FOUNTAIN (2008)
Jackman and Rachel Weisz portray three different sets of lovers over three different time periods and five different centuries, all intercut together and told non-linearly. Jackman portrays 16th century conquistador Tomás Verde, 21st century neuroscientist Tom Creo and Tommy, a 26th century space traveler — very different characters all, but united in the love that he has for Weisz’s characters.
6. HAPPY FEET (2006)
In George Miller‘s Academy Award-winning animated feature, Jackman provides the voice of Memphis, a penguin whose heartsong matches that of Norma Jean (voiced by Nicole Kidman), and the two penguins become mates. It’s a delightful piece of animation, but if only Jackman could team up with Miller again for a live-action film!
5. THE PRESTIGE (2006)
This mystery/thriller, directed by Christopher Nolan, set in the world of stage magic in 1890s London, starred Jackman and Christian Bale as rival magicians to attempt to top each other to see who is the best, and the results are tragic.
4. X-MEN series (2000-2016)
The “X-Men” series of films and the role of the cigar-chomping, razor-fingered Wolverine made Jackman a genuine movie star. Unlike many superheroes, Wolverine is a brooding figure, seemingly troubled by an internal emotional struggle, which made him stand out in the parade of superheroes in the series, particularly in the first few films.
3. LOGAN (2017)
I’ve separated “Logan” from the rest of the “X-Men” films, only because its goals and approach are so radically different than the previous nine films. Wolverine (Jackman) whose real name is Logan is caring for Professor X (Patrick Stewart in a wonderful performance), who is suffering from a brain disease and is vulnerable to deadly seizures.
2. LES MISERABLES (2012)
Jackman’s performance draws upon both his musical ability and his considerable dramatic skills to create a fully-realized Jean Valjean that garnered critical acclaim. For his performance, Jackman also received his first Best Actor Oscar nomination, as well as nominations for two Screen Actors Guild Awards.
1. PRISONERS (2013)
Denis Villeneuve boldly cast Jackman against type as the father of one of two young girls who have been abducted, and when the police detective on the case (Jake Gyllenhaal) has to release the mentally-challenged suspect, Jackman kidnaps the suspect to interrogate him himself, and the depths to which his character was willing to go to get his daughter back.