Spoiler warning: This article goes into detail about the ending of Logan.
Over dinner after finishing work on The Wolverine in 2013, Hugh Jackman asked Jerry Seinfeld — they’re friends — about the comedian’s decision to walk away from his sitcom and how Seinfeld knew the time was right to depart. Seinfeld’s advice: Leave a little in the tank.
“The moment he said it, I was like, ‘This is it,'” Jackman recalls during an interview for the latest EW cover story. “I’m quite indecisive, but when I get that gut feeling, it’s kind of a relief to me. When I met my wife, I knew. With the kids, I knew. When I was talking to Jerry that day, I was like, ‘Oh, yeah.'”
In that instant, Jackman realized he had one last thing to give Wolverine: an ending.
It was director James Mangold who first proposed the idea that Logan should die at the end of the new film. Jackman was open to it, but not without a serious caveat. After all, Unforgiven, a major inspiration for Logan, ends with Clint Eastwood’s Bill Munny walking away. “I thought, ‘This is a reason to do another movie and a reason to do no more after it,'” Jackman says. “But we really needed to earn it.”
They do. Having already delivered Laura (newcomer Dafne Keen) to the Canadian border, Logan sacrifices himself in a fight against a merciless clone, also played by Jackman, to secure her safe passage to the north. “As soon as I saw the script, I got it,” Jackman says. “Logan is someone who is most scared of intimacy, and so he wants to be alone and do things for himself. The idea that, in the end, he must give his life to save someone else… I thought that was really powerful.”
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.
As serious as Jackman seems about laying Logan to rest, he does have an escape clause (escape claws?) should he change his mind. As recently as Days of Future Past in 2014, the X-Men universe established alternate timelines, and Professor Xavier bounced back swimmingly from vaporization in 2006’s Last Stand. Plus, Jackman has previously said he’d love to bring Wolverine into an Avengers movie, à la Spider-Man.
But don’t get too excited about that idea. Jackman insists he’s done. “I know this doesn’t sound right coming from an Australian, but at some point, you’ve got to leave the party,” he says, laughing. “It’s time to go home.”