With Logan set to dominate the box office this weekend, the final Wolverine movie is becoming one grand big goodbye tour for Hugh Jackman. As he explains in the latest EW cover story, Jackman saw this particular mutant tale as the best possible way to say farewell to the character he’s played for 17 years.
But there was one other time when Jackman almost hung up the claws for good.
Back in 2009, after X-Men Origins: Wolverine appeared on file-sharing sites and took a beating from the critics, Jackman didn’t think he had another X-movie in him. “I couldn’t see what the next thing was,” he said, reflecting on the time during the cover story interview. “I don’t know what else to do. I don’t know where to go.”
Watch the full interview with Hugh Jackman on the PEOPLE/Entertainment Weekly Network (PEN), or download the free app on your Smart TV, mobile and web devices.
His uncertainty about the future of the character had more to do with his need to break new ground each time than a reaction to the film itself, but that was still an issue. And he heard about it from fans… often. “I knew people liked the character. Not all the fans like that first Wolverine,” Jackman said. “They’re very vocal with me. Good or bad, they tell me. It’s kind of a family I have. ‘What were you thinking?! I love you, man, but that was….'”
What ultimately brought him back on board were early conversations about a follow-up that he had with Darren Aronofsky. At the time, the Black Swan director had plans to helm what would become The Wolverine. (Logan director James Mangold took over after Aronofsky dropped out to make Noah.) Ideas from those chats, however, made it into The Wolverine and Logan.
“Darren said, ‘I get that he heals, but if you’re a human, your scars are with you for your entire life,'” Jackman recalled. “‘The scab might go within a month or two weeks, but that’s there for life. Even if he has accelerated healing, that scars with him for a good 10 or 15 years, so he could be completely disfigured.’ All of the sudden, I had this image. It can be as simple of an idea as that, that all of a sudden makes me go, ‘Oh, there’s a whole other way to do this character. There’s a whole other way to get into it.'”
It’s this principle that convinced Jackman to return one final time for Logan. “In any creative field, you have to feel that, ‘Oh, this excited me’ or ‘That’s how I should have played it the last five times, and now I know how to do it,'” he said. “I think this film demonstrates that better than any.”