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Who's Talking to Chris Wallace
Interview With James Cameron; Interview with Hugh Jackman. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired January 08, 2023 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PAMELA BROWN, CNN HOST: "WHO'S TALKING TO CHRIS WALLACE?" is up next.
CHRIS WALLACE, CNN HOST: Welcome back to WHO'S TALKING.
Tonight, we kick off our second season with two of the biggest names in movies. One, in front of the camera. And the other holding it. Starting with blockbuster director James Cameron on his "Avatar" sequel. Why it took him so many years to bring it to theaters, and will it turn a profit?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Were you nervous when finally you had to share this with the world?
JAMES CAMERON, DIRECTOR, "AVATAR: THE WAY OF WATER": Very.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: And later, acting, singing, dancing, Hugh Jackman can do it all but there's one thing that almost kept him from playing his iconic role "Wolverine."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: So how on earth did you get yourself cask for this one?
We have two things in common.
HUGH GRANT, ACTOR: Do I get a hint?
INA GARTEN, CHEF, AUTHOR: I always find cooking really hard. I find it really stressful.
WALLACE: Do you feel your life is in danger?
TYLER PERRY, ACTOR, COMEDIAN: And the love of my mother is what brought me here.
WALLACE: What was the worst investment?
MARK CUBAN, BILLIONAIRE ENTREPRENEUR: There's a long list of really bad ones. (END VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I hear her heart beat. She's so close.
WALLACE (voice-over): It's already a blockbuster and still growing.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The way of water connects all things.
WALLACE: The second film in James Cameron's "Avatar" series. The sequel plunges audiences back into the magical world of Pandora. And is the visionary's most ambitious movie yet.
Cameron is known for turning ahead-of-their-time ideas into big screen classics with hits like "The Terminator."
ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER, ACTOR: I'll be back.
WALLACE: And "Titanic."
LEONARDO DICAPRIO, ACTOR: I'm the king of the world.
WALLACE: Earning him the title king of the box office. Now we get to take a deep dive into how the drawn-out dreams from his childhood have transformed into some of the biggest movies ever.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's do it.
WALLACE: James Cameron, welcome back. It is so great to sit down and talk with you again.
CAMERON: Chris, it's always a pleasure. Thank you for having me on.
WALLACE: First of all, congratulations. I saw the movie last week. It is an astonishing piece of art and technical wizardry.
CAMERON: Thank you. That's very kind. Yes, people seem to be connecting with it, which is all we could have hoped for.
WALLACE: Thirteen years after the first "Avatar" and five years after starting production on this one, how do you feel about what you're now sharing with the world, Jim? Are you satisfied with it?
CAMERON: Yes, I was satisfied before we put it out but that doesn't necessarily mean that people are going to be interested. You never know. I mean, it's just the nature of our business. You never really know until you put something out there in the zeitgeist that people are going to respond but it seems to be the right film at the right time and I don't know if that's that sense of child-like wonder that it can engender in an audience or maybe the emotional processing that they go through when they watch it.
Almost everybody that sees it tells me that they cry or they tear up at some point. So I think it's working on multiple levels. So it's very satisfying. I mean, I'm just sort of reeling from the fact that I'm unemployed for the first time in five years.
WALLACE: Let's talk about that for a minute. You know, you've obviously had an extraordinary history of successes but as you say, nobody knows. Were you nervous when finally you had to share this with the world?
CAMERON: Yes, very. I think you're always -- I think any filmmaker that says you're not nervous before their film drops is, you know, lying or, you know, in denial. Yes, of course you're nervous. The zeitgeist changes, people's taste changes, we're coming out of a COVID era but we're still not at full strength in the, you know, theatrical community. We're only running at about maybe 65 percent to 75 percent of what we used to be, so we're trying to build that back. Yes, so there were a lot of variables, a lot of factors that made it quite daunting.
WALLACE: You say this "Avatar" is more emotional than the first one and part of that is that you have given Sully and Neytiri a sprawling family of children. Why did you decide to go that route?
CAMERON: Well, I think it's a couple of things. I mean, one, you know, they say write what you know and as a family man, as a father of five, this is something that I never really dealt with that I wanted to deal with. But I also wanted something that would have a universal appeal for people in any culture or language or religion around the world because the "Avatar" audience is a global audience which we're seeing again on this release.
And I wanted the characters to have stakes, like real stakes. I wanted to deal with as much as the beauty and wonder on the one hand. I also wanted to deal with something deeper, you know, which is like grief and loss and how we process these deep bonds between each other.
WALLACE: One of the ways that you show that emotion is through a film- making technique called performance capture. And let's take a look at some of that.
WALLACE: It's fascinating.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ZOE SALDANA, ACTRESS: You are very hard on them.
SAM WORTHINGTON, ACTOR: I'm their father. It's my job.
KATE WINSLET, ACTRESS: What is this, Tonowari? What is this?
STEPHEN LANG, ACTOR: I'll be nice. Once. Then I won't.
WORTHINGTON: But I know one thing, this family is our fortress. (END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: How much harder is that, Jim, than straight CGI, computer generated imagery, and is it -- this performance capture, is it worth all of the extra time and expense?
CAMERON: Well, that's really the big question. I mean, I can talk for hours about how we do it but we rarely talk about why we do it. One of the big upsides of it is that I take all of my cinematography ideas and I postpone them into a kind of a post-productions. So what I'm doing with the actor is not photography, it's not cinematography, we're not doing dolly shots and crane shots and all that.
I'm just working with the actors. It's a very pure art form. It almost like a theatrical -- like a rehearsal for a stage play. So as a director, I'm not distracted by all that other stuff. I'm just focusing on character. So I quite like it. I'm not sure that it's necessarily justified if you could film something with actors, by all means film it. But I can't create these characters any other way.
I can't create this world any other way and there is something about that dream-like experience that people are having where they're dreaming with their eyes wide open and it looks completely real but it can't possibly be. That I think is a big part of the appeal of these films.
WALLACE: Now, when Sam Worthington and Zoe Saldana are doing a scene together and you've got this camera right in their face, are they doing the scene together or --
CAMERON: Oh, yes --
WALLACE: Is each one doing --
CAMERON: Absolutely. We work with everybody together as much as possible. And that's critical, because when there's no set there, and there's no world there, it's all about the actors looking in each other's eyes and getting that sense of that truth and that emotional reality in the scene so we can capture up to 20 people at a time, which means we can do crowd scenes. We can do group ensemble-type scenes. We can do one on one scenes like the one that you were looking at there. So the critical thing is the actors have each other to play to and that's what allows them to get to the deep truth of the scene.
WALLACE: Even I think more than the first "Avatar," you really portray the conflict between nature and man's exploitation of natural resources and here is some of that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SALDANA: Protect the people.
WORTHINGTON: Let's get it done.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Your message, it seems to me, is even more dire than it was in the first "Avatar" 13 years ago.
CAMERON: Yes, well, look, I mean the world is not -- the natural world is not getting better. It's suffering more and more with species extinction but we're really focusing with this film on the ocean and the creatures of the ocean, the habitat of the ocean and it's not doing that well on our world and we have to do better. I mean, I don't think the film is preachy but the message is clear and maybe if people enjoy the film, they go on the ride, they enjoy the action and the emotion of the movie but they come out thinking, hmmm, maybe we do need to be less destructive and more connected to the natural world.
WALLACE: "Avatar 2" has grossed, according to the last numbers I saw, about $1.4 billion. It is an enormous hit. But you have said, you set the marker that it needs to make at least $2 billion to break even, to justify another one and that I guess is the question I have. One, are you going to make that figure of $2 billion, and two, if you don't, does that mean we're not going to see "Avatar 3."
CAMERON: It looks like, just with the momentum that the film has now that we'll easily pass our breakeven in the next few days actually. So it looks like I can't wiggle out of this. I'm going to have to do these other sequels.
So I kind of know what I'm going to be doing for the next six or seven years. And I'm sure that we'll have a discussion soon, you know, with the top folks at Disney about, you know, the game plan going forward for "Avatar 3" which is already in the can. We've already captured and photographed the whole film and then "Avatar 4 and 5" are both written, we even have some of 4 in the can. So, you know, I think we can see that -- I think we've begun a franchise at this point.
WALLACE: How crushing, and I hope and that you think it's not going to happen but how crushing would it be to you personally if you didn't get to tell the entire ark of the "Avatar" story?
CAMERON: Not so bad. I mean, look, I understand this business and I understand the vagaries of it and the variables and, you know, the old expression, you know, man proposes and God disposes. You never quite know what's going to happen. I also believe in planning for the upside. Not sort of just making a movie, herky-jerky, and then waiting to see what happens but plan for the upside and then accept it if it doesn't work.
WALLACE: I read somewhere recently that you said and let me get it right, I don't want to do anything but big swings. What if at some point between now and whenever, the economics of the business were to be such, that we as you say we're at 60 percent or 70 percent of pre- pandemic movie going, if the economics of the industry just become such that it doesn't allow for big swings like "Terminator" and "Titanic" and "Avatar"?
CAMERON: I think it's fine. I mean, I'm a storyteller. I love having a camera on my shoulder. I love hand holding. I love working with actors. You know, I'll still be able to get a job as a storyteller. And people still need their stories. And whether they're being produced strictly for television, for streaming, I can live with that as long as everybody else has to live with it.
WALLACE: When we come back, Jim Cameron tells me how his unique childhood dreams inspired some of the biggest movies of our time. And the "Titanic" mistake he says he'll never make again.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: How bad was the backlash in Hollywood?
CAMERON: OK, we went there. All right.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Before they became box office hits, many of James Cameron's films like "The Terminator" started as childhood dreams that he turned into sketches. He published a stunning collection of that art in his book "Tech Noir."
Last spring I talked to Cameron from his home and production center in New Zealand about turning dreams into movie magic.
You know, as I looked is the pictures, your drawings, your art in this book "Tech Noir," there are some that are beautiful, there are some that are deeply disturbing. Let me ask you a personal question. How is it to have those images rumbling around inside your head?
CAMERON: Well, I think of my dreams, my actual, you know, kind of working subconscious in the middle of the night as my own private streaming channel. And sometimes it randomly selects for horror. Sometimes it randomly selects for beauty. Sometimes it randomly selects for, you know, beautiful, utopian future or highly dystopian, you know, future. And I never know what I'm going to get. It's like somebody is randomly turning the knob. So after 67 years of living in that streaming service from the subconscious, I'm pretty used to it and I actually think of it as my well spring if you will for creativity.
WALLACE: We have one of the classic scenes from "The Terminator." Let's play it and we'll talk on the other side.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCHWARZENEGGER: I'm a friend of Sarah Connor. I was told that she's here. Could I see her please?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. You can't see her. She's making a statement.
SCHWARZENEGGER: Where is she?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look, it may take a while. If you want to wait, there is a bench over there.
SCHWARZENEGGER: I'll be back.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Still a classic. 40 years later. Jim, you say that you don't get thrown off by the studio. Is it true that the studio in this case wanted somebody other than Arnold Schwarzenegger to play "The Terminator"?
CAMERON: Very early on, a highly placed person at one of the two studios that funded that film had a brilliant idea. Called me up and said, are you sitting down? I said, well, no, I'm not. He said, are you sitting down? O.J. Simpson as terminator. I said I actually think that's a bad idea. I actually didn't go anywhere. I think it's historically interesting.
WALLACE: That's an interesting one. O.J. Simpson. We have some other drawings, much nicer ones from "Tech Noir." And these are drawings that you did as you were developing "Titanic" and there are pictures, drawings of Rose and also of her wearing the ocean, the Heart of the Ocean necklace. Question, is it true that the person who actually -- the hand that we see drawing the picture in the movie, you know, the Leo DiCaprio in that wonderful sketch scene, that that's your hand?
CAMERON: That's actually me and I'm essentially redrawing the drawing that I had done for the film because I had actually drawn all of Jack's portfolio drawings but the problem is Leonardo, we'd already shot Leonardo and he's right-handed so he's drawing with his right hand and I'm left handed. So how do we do it?
So I had to actually draw a mirror image of the drawing and then we had to flop the film to get it into the movie but I wanted to get the sketch lines to be the way I had done, you know, the drawing of Kate.
WALLACE: I want to show an iconic clip.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DICAPRIO: I'm the king of the world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: You won the Oscar for Best Director for "Titanic" and in your acceptance speech, you quoted your own movie, ending your speech with the line, I'm the king of the world.
CAMERON: OK. We went there. All right.
WALLACE: How bad was the backlash in Hollywood, the feeling that Jim Cameron was riding a little too high at that point?
CAMERON: Yes, maybe. You know, I mean, I took a lot of heat for the line, you know, and I think the egregious sin there was, A, one of what was perceived arrogance or the conquering. You know, a sense of conquest, which was not what was in my head. I was trying to express the joy, the excitement that I was feeling in terms of that movie and the most joyful moment for the character, for -- you know, Leonardo DiCaprio's character was when he, you know, was free and at the bow of the ship and all that sort of thing.
What I learned is you don't quote your own movie to the Academy if you win because it's cringe worthy.
WALLACE: So more important than that, I've been fascinated by a metaphor you have used, which is the image of the Titanic heedlessly, full speed ahead, breaking the record, the speed record for crossing the Atlantic heading right into the field of icebergs, comparing that as a metaphor to the earth headed toward catastrophic climate change.
CAMERON: I think it's an at-metaphor. I mean, it shows how our kind of momentum, if you will, just the momentum of society and our unwillingness to change, the momentum of our leadership which puts other priorities ahead, you know, political priorities ahead of what must be done which is very simply slow down. You know, and the warnings, the captain died with a pocket full of, you know, radio telegram warnings about ice ahead but they still steamed full tilt because they thought they could get away with it, and the unthinkable wouldn't happen, and it happened.
So for me, one of the things that attracted me to the project in the first place was this metaphor for society at large. So, you know, we live in that 90 seconds between the time they saw the iceberg and when they were unable to turn right now but we're also sort of -- we've been living over the last few decades in that sort of day leading up to it where they were being warned and they didn't act with good leadership.
WALLACE: I want to go back one last time to your book "Tech Noir" and the really beautiful drawings you did before production of "Avatar" of the Navi people, and the lead character Neytiri. Where did all of that come from in your imagination, this world?
CAMERON: Well, it -- again, it came from dreams. I had a dream when I was 19, I was in college and I woke up. It was so profoundly beautiful. That I woke up and I had to actually make a record of it. So I did a couple of quick paintings of a bio-luminescent world, a bio-luminescent forest with these things lying around that looked like glowing frisbees. And the water glowing in the river and I, you know, I started writing ideas down around that and then it all coalesced when I had founded a visual effects company to do computer graphics, computer animation back in the early '90s.
But then everybody told me at our company it was too soon. We weren't ready to do the things that I wanted to do. So fine, I'll shelve it and when the technology catches up, we'll do it then. And so it wasn't until, you know, 10 years later or so that we actually got seriously going on "Avatar."
WALLACE: Coming up, my conversation with actor Hugh Jackman about his huge success on stage and screen. And I ask him about the two things we have in common.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: I bet you don't know either one of them.
JACKMAN: OK. Do I get a hint?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(VIDEO CLIP OF "GREATEST SHOWMAN")
WALLACE (voice-over): From the big screen to Broadway. Hugh jackman is known to millions of fans as a song and dance man, and to many others, as Wolverine, commanding the biggest of stages. And expressing the most intimate emotions.
JACKMAN: I have the right to invent my life.
WALLACE: But as he famously sang in "Les Mis." We're going to find out.
Hugh Jackman, the artist, the activist and one of the greatest showmen around.
WALLACE: Hugh Jackman, welcome. I have been looking forward to getting the chance to sit down and talk with you.
JACKMAN: Me too, Chris. I can't wait.
WALLACE: So, we have two things in common. And I bet you don't know either one of them.
JACKMAN: OK. Oh. Do I get a hint?
WALLACE: Well, I'll give you the answer. One is we are both born on October 12th.
WALLACE: And I have to say, you know, certainly, they have a list of people who were born on this day, and I have always been tickled to share it with Hugh Jackman and Pavarotti.
JACKMAN: Pavarotti. WALLACE: Yes.
JACKMAN: I can't think of anyone else. Do you know anyone else in that list?
WALLACE: Nobody that I care about, and I just want to say, between you and me and Pavarotti, we have sung some great operas and we've starred in Broadway musicals.
JACKMAN: We have a lot in common. Oh, that's great. Well, Happy Birthday.
JACKMAN: recently. I'll think of you every birthday now.
WALLACE: Well, and if we're in the same town, we have to celebrate together.
JACKMAN: A hundred percent.
WALLACE: All right, you have a new movie out?
JACKMAN: I do.
WALLACE: "The Son."
WALLACE: Which opens nationwide on January 28th.
And first of all, you have been nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Actor. Congratulations.
JACKMAN: Thank you, Chris. Thank you so much. Yes, I'm really proud of the film and it was an extraordinary experience. And I think, it is a really important story.
WALLACE: Well, let's talk about it, because the movie is about your son who is severely depressed and you play his father doing your best to try to help him out. Let's take a look.
(BEGIN "THE SON" VIDEO CLIP)
PETER, FICTIONAL CHARACTER: I don't know what else to do here, Nicholas, I'm just -- I'm telling you straight. I just don't know.
I've tried to listen to you. I've tried to be there for you. I've tried to give you strength and confidence. But obviously, none of that is any use.
You really think you can just live your life like that doing whatever the hell you feel like? Getting out of school, never taking any responsibility, refusing to grow up?
I mean, what are you going to do with your life? If you're not doing anything, what's going to become of you?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: You keep trying, but as someone in the movie says, "Love isn't always enough."
JACKMAN: It's a devastating line, when I read that, of course, love is the most important thing, but it is not always enough, particularly when you're dealing with severe mental health crisis, because with mental health, there is so much unknown.
There is never really a complete answer given as to why this boy is going through this severe depression, because often we don't know the answer. It's often complicated.
And I think, it is a movie that is really important because it's an epidemic. It's really something that's happening all over the world, not just here in America or in Australia, it is all over the world. And we don't necessarily know how to handle it.
I think we need to admit that and I think we need to start having these conversations.
WALLACE: You're known for playing larger than life figures, showman, superheroes. I think it's fair to say that this role is grim. Why did it appeal to you? Why did you want to play this role?
JACKMAN: I felt maybe it's me as a parent, maybe me as an actor. Maybe me as a son. You know, I felt an imperative, like an urgency to play the part.
I felt I could connect to the part. As a parent I understand, viscerally that worry that you never ever get rid of. Of never sure if you're doing the right thing. Are you doing enough? Could I have done something differently?
How are my kids doing? That anxiety that you live with all the time as a parent. I knew that. And I just felt a gut feeling I had to play the part, so much so that I actually chased the role down, you know.
WALLACE: Let's turn to the Hugh Hackman we all know and love, the song and dance man.
You are just finishing an 11-month run in "The Music Man" as Professor Harold Hill.
WALLACE: Who tells the people of this town of River City that they are going to hell. Here we are.
("THE MUSIC MAN" VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: I love that.
JACKMAN: I love it, too. I love it so much. WALLACE: Why did you want to be the music man?
JACKMAN: I was in "The Music Man." It was the first thing I ever did in high school. I was salesman number two. I knew it from then, of course, I watched the movie.
For me, it is a perfect musical. It's a beautiful story. The music is incredible.
And particularly I've wanted to do it for many years, but somehow it came at the right time, particularly post pandemic because it is a pure joy machine and I think that is something we all want to feel coming out of the pandemic, want to feel that we're coming closer together, that we are actually connecting, that we are celebrating the things that matter most and it's the simple things.
It's smiles. It's a meal with each other. It's music. It is dance.
It's these things that have been around for thousands and thousands of years -- these elemental things in the show and I experienced that every night.
I feel it in the audience. It just feels like a complete joy machine.
WALLACE: I think it's fair to say you are best known to most audiences for having played Wolverine in the "X-Men" movies and here we have a clip of you fighting and it doesn't actually go so well. Mystique.
JACKMAN: Oh, yes, right.
("X-MEN" VIDEO CLIP PLAYS)
WALLACE: So there are a couple of things that come out of this that I want to ask you about. One is, Wolverine is five foot five.
WALLACE: You are six foot two.
WALLACE: So how on earth did you get yourself cast for this role?
JACKMAN: I did about seven auditions. Am I wired in completely? I want to go a little.
WALLACE: No. No.
JACKMAN: Okay. I remember finally I did audition, audition, audition. And then I went to see their head of production. We were talking and he said, you know, it's just one problem. I hope the fans are not going to have a problem because the characters meant to be five foot five. And I said, Tom, really? It's going to be absolutely fine. Don't worry
about a thing. I literally walked out like that. And actually in the first movie, Chris, I never had my shoes on.
Every other actor around me -- the rule was unless they were a kid, they had to be taller than me. People were on. I was literally crouching like that, shoes off.
People were on planks and boxes all around me. So, they went to a great effort, and I think, after a while they just gave up on that.
WALLACE: Okay. Second question. How did you learn to deal with those claws?
JACKMAN: You know, we're just watching that clip, Chris. And you know what came into my head in that fight? I actually stabbed the double of Mystique like, so in the beginning, there were -- I don't know what we were thinking. They were actually metal and they were actually sharp.
And I used to practice. I practice at home. Everyone looked at -- because I've done a lot of fighting.
JACKMAN: But never with another -- I had to get used to another nine inches on my hand as I'm fighting. So, I had to adjust. I'd practice, practice and I would follow through.
I've stabbed my thighs, I had like scars. I still have scars on my thighs. And in that particular scene, there's one thing where she's reaching for something, and I go to stab her arm, she forgot to move her arm.
And I literally stabbed and went about this deep into her arm, and I'll never forget it.
I went white. I've literally just stabbed someone for the first time in my life. And she just -- the blood was burbling out like bloop- bloop-bloop. It was starting to come and she's just like. She goes, "I've been stabbed by Wolverine."
Blue -- there was just blue and red just pouring down her arm because she is a stunt woman and she's a hell of a lot tougher than me and it was a badge of honor for her.
WALLACE: You got so jacked for these movies, nine Wolverine movies, and over the years people have wondered did he juice? Did he take steroids?
JACKMAN: No. I love my job and I love Wolverine. I've got to be careful what I say here, but I had been told anecdotally what the side effects are of that and I was like, I don't love it that much.
WALLACE: Yes, no, no, right.
JACKMAN: So no, I just did it the old school way. And I'd tell you, I've eaten more chickens, I'm so sorry to all the vegans and vegetarians and to the chickens of the world.
I've just -- literally, the karma is not good for me. If the deity has anything related to chickens, I'm in trouble.
WALLACE: Coming up: The other thing Hugh Jackman and I share and how you can learn from our mistake. And Hugh reveals one of his biggest struggles, which have me reacting like this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: You know what? There's a crowd of people out there saying, "Shut up, Hugh."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: When the steely claws of Wolverine are put away, Hugh Jackman is probably most admired for his versatility -- acting, singing and dancing his way to awards and accolades. It started with a show that took many on Broadway by surprise.
WALLACE: By 2003, you are playing a very un-Wolverine role in "The Boy from Oz," as the flamboyant entertainer, Peter Allen and you were having fun.
JACKMAN: Oh boy.
("THE BOY FROM OZ" CLIP PLAYS.)
WALLACE: So you were bulked up as Wolverine and you looked thin there. Stilt. I mean, is there a way to bring it back down or --
JACKMAN: No, that's me. So that's naturally me. So my nickname in high school was "Sticks."
JACKMAN: Because I was literally just sticking --
WALLACE: But if are like this, how do you get so that you're --
JACKMAN: You just stop eating 19 chickens a day and start training like a maniac, and then my body will just go to that. So if I didn't go to the gym or do anything, that's where I'd go to.
And when you're dancing and singing 22 songs a night, that's what happens to me. So it annoys my wife constantly when I say this, but I'll complain about putting on weight. I find it very hard to put weight on and she's like, "Shut up." WALLACE: You know what, there's a crowd of people out there saying
"Shut up, Hugh."
Then, talk about a different role you play the French fugitive, Jean Valjean in "Les Miserables." Take a look.
(CLIP FROM "LES MISERABLES" PLAYS.)
WALLACE: I understand that that was a notoriously tough shoot, and that the director would make you and the other actors perform full take after full take.
I mean, it wasn't like, we'll cut a little bit of this, you would do the whole song from beginning to end.
JACKMAN: This was the first time ever, I believe, on many years where we were doing live singing, so we had a live piano player and we would have an ear wig and we would hear that and we would do it live.
And the thing about "Les Mis" is it is all sung. There's no real dialogue.
So we had to do every time, before a song, because it may not be able to match. So there were many songs we spend a day doing it and you would have to be ready to do 28 to 30 takes, which I love. I mean, I know there's some -- I've worked with some actors who are like, three takes, that's enough.
I don't understand that. Like, I spent my whole life training, wanting to be an actor. And then I'm in a beautiful show, an incredible part, and then a hundred fifty people have come together and lit and this and given me the space and I'm out there and I'm like, where else would I want to be want to be? I don't want to be back on my trailer and drinking coffee? No, I want to be here.
I'll be like, can I go again? Can I go again? Can I go again? Because I love it.
WALLACE: In 2017, you starred in the movie, "The Greatest Showman" playing the circus legend, PT Barnum, and here is the opening number.
(CLIP FROM "THE GREATEST SHOWMAN" PLAYS.)
WALLACE: The movie opens small, but it became a huge international hit. And you have said that it was a passion project for you.
JACKMAN: We took his ideas to get a made.
WALLACE: Why? Why did it matter so much to you?
JACKMAN: I was just so invested in it. I always wanted to do a movie musical and in my dream, I've done "Les Mis" but in my dream, it was to do an original movie musical. And I know how hard they are to do. It's the hardest thing in showbiz. I think it's the Mount Everest of showbiz.
And you're right, Chris, when you say it didn't open great. We were the second worst opening in Hollywood history. It was -- you know things are bad when you don't hear anything. You know, when things are bad --
WALLACE: You mean, the agent doesn't call, the studio doesn't call.
JACKMAN: My agent does. We have been together 25 years, but apart from that, it's crickets.
JACKMAN: That's when you know, it's really bad.
Sometimes you'll get, I can't believe it. You were amazing. There's -- nothing.
So -- and then it just gradually picked up and gradually kept going, and on and on and on and on and on and that's what I knew why I was passionate about it.
I knew people would connect with it, and it would somehow be inspiring and uplifting. And well, it's easy to say now, but I guess in the end, I proved right.
I've been wrong many times been in this case, I was right.
WALLACE: So I said at the beginning that there are two things we have in common.
WALLACE: And here's the second one. Not so pleasant. How many bouts have you had with skin cancer on your nose?
JACKMAN: Oh, four on my nose, one on my -- four or five, I've lost count. And one on my shoulder.
WALLACE: I have had one bout of skin cancer in my nose and like you I have turned into a scold on this that take it seriously, slather yourself in sunscreen. I mean people don't know. And we both were lucky we had a basal cell carcinoma, which is the least serious kind. It is a distinctly unpleasant experience.
JACKMAN: It's very unpleasant. But we're lucky. As my --
WALLACE: I am trying to look to see where your scars are.
JACKMAN: You can see them. You can see them there.
WALLACE: Oh, yes, a little bit right there.
JACKMAN: Right there.
WALLACE: Mine was right there. JACKMAN: And it's so hard because there is no skin really.
JACKMAN: So you have to take out quite a lot of flesh and then you're folding and cutting and anyway, it's unpleasant. But as my doctor said to me. He said, you're going to have to get checked every three months for the rest of your life.
I was 45 when I got my first one. He said I can tell you now, for the rest of your life, you're going to have a lot more because skin cancer appears 25 years after the damage.
So that first skin cancer was me getting sunburned when I was 20. So -- and I've been sunburned many times after that, so I've got more coming and he said, but if getting a checkup every three months is your cross to bear in life, you should be so lucky.
There are many, many people who catch it too late, and I'd say to everybody, please get a checkup. Please just take it from me. Just go for one operation on your nose, you will never just sit in the sun again.
WALLACE: Just wear a hat and --
JACKMAN: Wear a hat and your sunscreen.
WALLACE: Don't be out in the sun from 11 until two or three.
JACKMAN: It is not worth it.
WALLACE: Exactly. Exactly.
Finally, I understand that you're set to play in the next Deadpool movie and even though your character Logan or Wolverine was killed off in the last movie, you're going to play Wolverine again for the 10th time.
JACKMAN: I mean, you categorize it as the Deadpool movie. We like to call it Wolverine 10. That's what we are going to call it. You know, in our house --
WALLACE: Have you checked with Ryan Reynolds on this?
JACKMAN: I don't need to check with him. I am kidding.
Basically, this is taking place -- this story is pre-Logan, which is exactly as you said, where Logan died. So we pre that in the storyline.
JACKMAN: And I honestly, Chris, I really thought I was done. Like I was at peace with it. Fine. I got asked every day in interviews or Ryan Reynolds ringing me, can we do it again? I'm like, no, I'm done.
Someone said to me, I think it was Deb, I think it was my wife. She said, you know, after this, what is it you really want to do? And I was just driving down a day later and I thought what do I want? And it came to me like that.
Because when I keep thinking of me and Ryan, of Deadpool and Wolverine, which are classic comic book rivals, there's also a dynamic that I've never really got to do before as Wolverine.
WALLACE: But "The Music Man" is not Wolverine and with all due respect, and after this interview, affection, Hugh Jackman at 54 is not Hugh Jackman at 32.
WALLACE: So how are you going to get in that kind of shape?
JACKMAN: I have -- I've learned, you can't rush it. I've learned that it takes time. So we have six months from when I finish to when I start filming and I'm not doing any other work. I'm going to be with my family and train. That's going to be my job for six months.
And I'm really fit right now. There is one thing that eight shows a week being on Broadway, singing and dancing is I am fit. So I'm healthy. I have a good place to start. And apologies, chickens, run, a mile. Start running now because I'm coming for you.
WALLACE: Up next, a new twist to the show involving some of your and our favorite guests.
WALLACE: This season, when one of our previous guests makes news, we want to make sure that you know about it.
Tonight, it is legendary actor, Henry Winkler who is up for a Golden Globe Award Tuesday night for Best Supporting Actor in the HBO series, "Barry."
We discussed his role which, with all due respect to The Fonz, he says is the best he's ever played.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: I think that you play one of the most interesting funny characters on television right now.
HENRY WINKLER, ACTOR: Wow. Thank you.
WALLACE: The acting coach Gene Cousineau.
WALLACE: On the HBO series, "Barry."
WINKLER: "Barry." And Cousineau comes -- that was the name of Bill Hader and his wife's obstetrician.
WALLACE: Okay, I did not know that.
WINKLER: Yes, Dr. Cousineau.
WALLACE: That enriches the series for me. Let's take a look at Gene Cousineau in action.
(VIDEO CLIP FROM "BARRY" PLAYS.")
GENE COUSINEAU, ACTING COACH): Barry, you want to be an actor. You better get out of your own way. Life is about taking a risk, making the unsafe choice.
All right, here's a little story just to illustrate. I want someone to shoot for the guy that robbed the house on "Full House." And I carried a loaded Beretta with me into the audition just feel the weight of it.
BARRY BERKMAN: Did you get the part?
COUSINEAU: They freaked out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: It is -- I love the show and I love you in this show. Now who is this guy?
WINKLER: This guy is a compilation of somebody that the writers were writing about who taught here in LA and the 14 teachers that I had over my school career from college and graduate school.
WALLACE: Were they really that bad?
WINKLER: You know what, it's not a matter of being that bad. It is a matter of teachers of acting are a very strange breed and a lot of them think they have to tear you down in order to build you up.
WALLACE: You have said that of all the things you've done in your career, that this is the best. What is so special about playing Jean Cousineau in "Barry."
WINKLER: There is an expression that if I ain't on the page, it ain't on the stage. And Bill Hader and Alec Berg, Liz and Duffy and Justin, they write and give you such a jumping off place. They give you such a blueprint in order to create your character. And I'm telling you that it's just magnificent to be --
There's also a policy of no assholes on the set, and have kept to that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: You can watch our entire conversation with Henry Winkler, as well as this season's premier interviews with James Cameron and Hugh Jackman anytime you want on HBO Max.
And please join us here on CNN next Sunday night when I'll sit down with pop culture guru, Andy Cohen and the Barefoot Contessa herself, Ina Garten.
Until then, thank you for watching. Good night.