Pan‘s Hugh Jackman, who plays the infamous Blackbeard in the film, says he identifies more with Peter Pan than with the pirate, because, like Pan, Jackman’s own mother left when Hugh was very young — eight years old. Hugh admits he might have adjusted better than he did, because, initially, he wasn’t as volatile until he hit his teens and life dealt him yet another blow.
Hugh Jackman Was An Angry Teenager
Jackman says that his parents nearly reconciled when he was 12- or 13-years-old and when that plan fell through, it triggered the anger and rage in Hugh that led to him pulling juvenile stunts as an outlet for that anger.
“There was this perfect storm of hormones and emotion,” Pan‘s Jackman explains. “I’ve never said this before: I just remembered that we had those metal [school] lockers, and for some reason, half in fun, we used to head-butt the lockers until there was a dent in them. Like, who was the toughest and craziest?”
Ultimately, Mr. Jackman found that participating in athletics was the best outlet for the Pan star’s rage and frustration, according to People magazine. Hugh joined the school’s rugby team and found that his rage — a rage Jackman terms his “Wolverine Rage” — could be applied to more constructive means, especially when he took a punch to the face. Hugh says just one hit would send him into a blinding rage.
The man who now plays fearless Blackbeard in Pan recalls that, after his mother left, Mr. Jackman was a fearful, powerless child. Making matters worse, Hugh was the youngest of five children, all of whom recognized the easy prey in the boy who would eventually come to play fearless characters in films like X-Men and Pan.
“I was the youngest. I used to be the first one home and I was frightened to go inside,” Mr. Jackman said. “I couldn’t go into the house on my own. I’d wait outside, scared, frustrated.”
Pan Star Hugh Jackman Discovers Acting
Hugh reveals that, unlike Blackbeard, he was consumed by fear, becoming the proverbial boy afraid of his own shadow, but Jackman soon found strength in the church. More specifically, Hugh reveals that it was through his local church that he was introduced to the theater, as Mr. Jackman reveals in a Parade magazine interview.
The Pan star says that, from his very first performance, Mr. Jackman found acting to be a spiritual experience as profound and earth-shattering as the most intimate sexual encounter.
“Onstage I feel an intimacy that feels natural, that’s transcendent,” Jackman says. “I’d feel as intimate with an audience as with my wife… Sometimes I feel more myself on a stage than I do off the stage.”
Hugh sounds like one of the ancient pagans, seeking out the divine through dance and performance, as he speaks of the performance uniting the audience and actors as one. Mr. Jackman says he prays before each performance, hoping to find the strength to surrender to the piece and experience the transcendence that comes from that kind of dedication to one’s art.
The Pan star compares acting to falling in love, equating the sense of feeling both excited and frightened with the feeling of performing before a live audience and giving oneself over to the night — to the story, the character, and the audience — as though becoming unified as one.
“Through acting, I’m able to find a level of bliss and peace and calm and joy. And it feels natural.”
Joe Wright’s Pan, starring Levi Miller, Hugh Jackman, and Garrett Hedlund, arrives in theaters on October 9.
[Featured image: Hugh Jackman courtesy of Keith Tsuji/Getty Images for Montblanc]