Hugh Jackman earned his first Oscar nomination for playing Jean Valjean in Tom Hooper’s “Les Misérables,” and he might have reunited with the director for his disastrous follow-up “Cats” had it not been for scheduling issues. In a new interview with The Daily Beast, Jackman confirmed he turned down a role in “Cats” after Hooper called him early in pre-production to discuss various roles the actor might be able to play. “There were a couple of options there based on availability and time,” Jackman said, “but I just wasn’t available at the time.”
Not starring in “Cats” was probably the right move, as the film is one of the most infamous movie disasters in recent memory. “Cats” bombed at the box office and earned some of the worst film reviews of 2019, with many critics left baffled and horrified by Hooper’s decision to use “digital fur” to turn his human actors into felines. Visual effects artists who worked on “Cats” spoke out this month against Hooper, calling him a “disrespectful” and “demeaning” presence throughout post-production. (Representatives for Hooper did not respond to IndieWire’s request for comment.) When asked if it was beneficial to turn down “Cats,” Jackman refused to answer.
“I’m in the theater, man, and I don’t want to be in the business of bashing people—or jumping on bandwagons,” Jackman said. “I haven’t seen it, and Tom Hooper’s one of the great filmmakers we have.”
One thing Jackman was more comfortable talking about was his legacy as Wolverine. The actor debuted as the comic book superhero 20 years ago in 2000’s “X-Men” and made his curtain call with 2017’s “Logan.” Jackman said he has made peace with saying goodbye to Wolverine and will not return as the character in the future. As for Marvel Studios rebooting Wolverine on the big screen now that Disney owns Fox, Jackman said it would be impossible not to do just that. Jackman turned Wolverine into such a big screen icon and pop culture fixture that any decision to bring the X-Men into the MCU will have to include Wolverine.
“I knew it was the right time for me to leave the party—not just for me, but for the character,” Jackman said. “Somebody else will pick it up and run with it. It’s too good of a character not to. It’s kind of like, you’re on your way home and your friend rings you and goes, ‘Oh, dude, a new DJ just came on and the music is awesome, are you going to come back?’ And you say, Sounds good but…no. They’re fine with someone else.”
Jackman next hits television as the lead in the HBO movie “Bad Education,” which debuted at TIFF last September. Read Jackson’s full interview with The Daily Beast here.