Erin Nolan May 1, 2009
Is it possible that Hugh Jackman is really two people? Because when you take a look at his career, it seems he’s divided his time pretty evenly between kicking butt and getting in touch with his softer side, kind of like how Adam Lambert alternates between his goth rocker shtick and his Elvis-resembling crooner routine each week on American Idol. Jackman became an overnight sensation as rugged superhero Wolverine in the hugely successful X-Men franchise, and then surprised the world by letting his inner theater geek loose and winning a Tony for his lead role in The Boy from Oz. Since then, he’s traded off action roles with period pieces and the occasional awards show hosting gigs on a pretty consistent basis.
But is Jackman more convincing in a tuxedo or a motorcycle jacket? Let’s take a look at his best and worst roles and try to decide which side of him we like better:
1. X2: X-Men United (Action Jackman)
The second installment of the comic book franchise was its most exciting, and managed to hit all the right emotional notes, too. Whether he’s battling Deathstrike, saving the lives of Professor X’s young students from an attack on the mansion, or pining for his unrequited crush, Jean Grey, Jackman has never been sexier or more bad-ass.
2. The Prestige (Dapper Jackman)
In this underrated Christopher Nolan-directed thriller about feuding Victorian-era magicians, Jackman and Christian Bale give such clever, nuanced performances there’s no way you’re going to figure out the shocking twist ending until it happens.
3. X-Men (Action Jackman)
When Jackman, unknown to American audiences at the time, first brought the beloved mutant to life on the big screen in 2000, fans were instantly begging for more. Nine years later, Jackman is reprising the role for the fourth time in the spin-off movie X-Men Origins: Wolverine, making him one of the most popular film characters of the decade.
4. Australia (Best of Both!)
This film has at least as may detractors as it does fans, but there’s no denying Jackman can hold his own in an epic format. Riding horses, rescuing children, and cleaning up nice for the ball — he proved he can handle every duty that can be asked of a leading man.
5. Someone Like You (Dapper Jackman)
Since it was a romance, Someone Like You falls under the “Dapper Jackman” category. But in reality, this is one of the few roles where we see Jackman playing a semi-normal modern man. It was only a modest hit, but Jackman was a standout among the cast, which also included Ashley Judd and Greg Kinnear.
1. Van Helsing (Action Jackman)
After the success of X-Men, Jackman failed to launch a second franchise. Even with Wolverine in the lead role, this movie somehow managed to make hunting vampires seem boring.
4. Kate and Leopold (Dapper Jackman)
In one of the silliest romantic comedies of the decade, Jackman plays a 19th century duke who travels over a hundred years into the future to woo Meg Ryan. Audiences left the theater wishing he hadn’t bothered to make the trip.
5. Viva Laughlin (Dapper Jackman)
You can’t blame Jackman for wanting to adapt the hit BBC musical Viva Blackpool for American TV. His theatricality is one of the reasons we love him. We just wish his overly ambitious plans hadn’t included making us listen to Melanie Griffith sing.
If you’re keeping track, Action Jackman has three points going his way, and two strikes against him. Dapper Jackman has three going his way, and three strikes against him. Feel free to state your preference in the comments section below.
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