We're making it Wolverine Week on the Who's News Blog because X-Men Origins: Wolverine is the first expected blockbuster of the summer movie season, it opens Friday (some cities will have midnight showings Thursday) and thanks to our Brian Truitt, a huge Wolverine fan, we have our own interviews and Q&As with cast and crew. Plus, I figure any movie that stars the current "Sexiest Man Alive" Hugh Jackman, the heartthrob of Friday Night Lights, Taylor Kitsch, and is directed by an Oscar winner is a movie you ought to know about. Yes, the new Wolverine is directed by Gavin Hood, the South African filmmaker who wrote and directed Tsotsi — the 2006 Oscar winner for Best Foreign Language Film. What makes him the right director for a movie about a mega-popular clawed superhero? Hood, pictured left with Jackman, wondered the same thing at first. But it turns out Jackman is as good a salesman as he is an actor. Click read more below for Brian's interview with Hood, and if you missed it, check out our exclusive Wolverine video.
Photos by James Fisher
Hood was surprised when Jackman approached him to direct Wolverine. But Jackman, who stars as the title character, liked Hood's direction of the emotional journey within Tsotsi, and saw that Tsotsi’s main character had a sense of self-loathing similar to that of the character Wolverine. To get ready, Hood immersed himself in comic books about the mutant superhero. “The first line that hits you when you read the comic books is that famous line of Wolverine’s, which is ‘I’m the best there is at what I do, but what I do best isn’t very nice,’ ” Hood explains. “Some will say, ‘You see, he’s just a badass.’ Yes, he is a badass but there’s something also within that phrase that tells me he’s a character that has a great deal of self reflection going on and that has a significant amount of self-loathing: 'I’m the best there is but I don’t really like what I am or what I do.' There’s a hook to start with.”
The director appreciated that Wolverine was this man fueled by rage, which comes from loss in his life. What really got him into the movie, though, was the character of Victor Creed, aka Sabretooth (played by Liev Schreiber), Wolverine’s half-brother. The back story between the two, Creed’s big-cat movements and their battles, made the film much more than just an action movie for Hood. “It fuels the fights with two things: It gives you the sense that the style is rooted in something, the way [Creed] fights is rooted in some animalistic quality. But it also gives you a sort of emotional propulsion.”
Hood is no stranger to action. He began his career as a star in “very bad B action movies,” and he trained many years in the martial arts style, Shotokan. He also rowed for his South African university. But another major part of his early life was his father’s interest in wildlife photography and the wildlife expeditions they took together. Filming those battles between Wolverine and Sabretooth took Hood back to the days with his dad observing through a camera lens how wild animals behave. “Just before the animal pounces or the moment of fleeting fear in the prey’s eyes or just that simple innocence of an animal, whatever it is, it’s usually in the eyes. Without it, the photograph dies,” Hood says. “And this idea of actually making a movie where we could find the emotional power mixed with action and where we’ve got these animalistic qualities, it felt like I could play with all of the parts of my life that usually seem completely at odds with each other.”