Logan tears into theaters this weekend, and I think it’ll be 2017’s first bona fide blockbuster. Critics love the thing, and Logan’s resonant Super Bowl commercial didn’t hurt interest any. But the biggest buzz surrounds Hugh Jackman, who says this’ll be his last turn as the titular character.
That’s right: After nine movies and 17 years as Wolverine, Jackman’s hanging up his claws.
“I don’t think he ever viewed it as ‘could be [his last appearance as Wolverine],’” Logan Director James Mangold told The New York Times. “I think he approached it as, it was.”
It’s probably about time. Jackman’s 48 now, and unless you’re actually a nigh-invulnerable mutant with an adamantium skeleton, superheroing is a young man’s game. And while the versatile actor’s never devoted his time exclusively to Wolverine, I’m sure he’d like more time to take on new roles and challenges. In fact, Jackman may go from the X-Men to man of God: Jackman will reportedly play Apostle Paul in an upcoming Warner Brothers film, according to Deadline Hollywood.
Can’t think of another guy I’d rather see as the former Saul of Tarsus. As Jean Valjean in Les Miserables, Jackman’s already played a woeful sinner whose life is completely upended through faith. And from what I understand, Jackman’s own life is one of faith, as well.
He doesn’t make a big deal about his beliefs. But during a 2015 interview with Parade magazine, he spoke about his faith without prompting. Asked when he knew he was meant to be an actor, Jackman said, “I’m a Christian. I was brought up very religious. I used to go to different evangelists’ [revival] tents all the time. When I was about 13, I had a weird premonition that I was going to be onstage, like the preachers I saw.”
Then, later, he brought it up again. When he told Parade’s Dotson Rader that acting gave him a “level of bliss and peace and calm and joy,” Rader said that “it sounds religious.” And Jackman agreed.
I’m a religious person. This is going to sound weird to you. In Chariots of Fire the runner Eric Liddell says, “When I run, I feel His pleasure.” And I feel that pleasure when I act and it’s going well, particularly onstage. I feel what everyone’s searching for, the feeling that unites us all. Call it “God.” Before I go onstage every night, I pause and dedicate the performance to God, in the sense of “Allow me to surrender.” When you allow yourself to surrender to the story, to the character, to the night, to the audience, transcendence happens. And when that happens, there is nothing like it on the planet.
I can’t say much about Logan just yet. I’ll have more to say Monday, hopefully, after folks have had a chance to see it. But I’ll say this: In Logan, more than any of the previous X-Men movies, you sense that Jackman surrendered to the character. It’s as raw and honest a performance as I’ve seen him give. And while the results are messy—sometimes viscerally so—there’s something deeply spiritual about this movie, too. Something redemptive.
Jackman may be done with Logan, but he’s not done with acting. And I’m looking forward to seeing what he does next.