Sunday, February 20, 2011

Hugh and me

Weekend Today, February 19 - 20, 2011, Column, Page T2
Source Website:
May Seah,, 05:56 AM Feb 19, 2011

PHOTO: On top of all that much-ness, Hugh was also really, really nice.
Artwork by YEN YOK

Copyright © MediaCorp Press Ltd
Weekend Today, February 19 - 20, 2011, Column, Page T2

PHOTO: May Seah
The writer is a features reporter at Today.

Weekend Today, February 19 - 20, 2011, Column, Page T2

How I met Mr Right - that's Mr Wolverine to you
I HAVE to say, I have a pretty cool job.

As a features writer, I encounter interesting and/or famous people every day. Sometimes, I even get to jet set across the world to meet them. As such, my Facebook photos are full of trophy moments: Lounging brazenly in Sheldon's spot on the set of The Big Bang Theory, hanging with the Deadliest Catch guys in Seattle, and perching on the shoulders of a couple of choice Chippendale dancers.

The photo that has received the most comments by far - many in the vein of "How do I apply for your job?" - is the one of me meeting Mr Right.

It was everything I thought it would be. But don't tell Hugh Jackman's wife - I don't think she knows yet.

Mind you, we didn't meet serendipitously at a lonely bus stop when we were both holding the same Gabriel Garcia Marquez book. The fact of the matter was that I had to travel all the way to Sydney, Australia, in search of Hugh. Not that he was aware of it. Yes, it was a bit of a one-sided romance but still rather epic, I'd like to think.

Back in April 2009, the movie X-Men Origins: Wolverine was about to be released, and a publicity event was held on Cockatoo Island, in the middle of Sydney Harbour, because many of the movie's scenes had been filmed there, as well as in other Sydney locales.

PHOTO: The primary storyline is Wolverine's origin, hence the title. In the game, Wolverine experiences the events leading up to, and immediately following, his recruitment to Col. William Stryker's Weapon X program.

The island, accessible by boat, has an old quarry and a number of historic buildings including a former shipyard and a prison, which is now a UNESCO World Heritage site. The venue was also chosen because the movie's star, 43-year-old Jackman himself, was born and raised in Sydney, and is now arguably its favourite son. (Mel Gibson, who?)

I'm not usually a groupie. But ask any woman - or, for that matter, any man - and they'll likely tell you that Hugh Jackman is in a class of his own.

Never mind that he sings, dances, acts and produces. Never mind that he is Wolverine. Never mind that he has a list of awards longer than my arm. His real appeal can be explained in terms of evolutionary biology: Hugh Jackman is an old-school manly-man.

Women want to date him because he's tall, handsome and has proven himself desirable by being in a committed marriage to the same woman for 15 years and raising two children. Men want to be him because he's tall, handsome and has biceps the size of melons.

PHOTO: Standing at 6’3, Hugh Jackman is looking pretty large and jacked

And speaking of melons, Hugh was in fine form that day in Sydney. To play Wolverine, a strict regimen of 4am gym workouts, cold showers and egg white shakes had made his shoulders and arms even more massive than usual. He made his grand entrance hanging out of a chopper and waving to the screaming fans below, then landed at the top of the quarry and ziplined down to solid ground - all the while clad in a polo shirt that looked like it was about to bust its seams (in a good way), sexy black leather, matching stubble, and his trademark easy smile.

PHOTO: Wolverine cast member Lynn Collins (Kayla Silverfox) has signed on to star in Disney’s John Carter of Mars, a film adaptation of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ character.

Whatever it is in the Sydney water that produces such specimens - it should be bottled and declared a national treasure.

Here's the kicker: On top of all that much-ness, Hugh was also really, really nice. He had no entourage or assistant, no forced smarmy-charm, and no pretensions. He was the biggest star I'd ever met, but by far the most personable.

PHOTO: Wolverine Kissing In Love

My interview session with him was the very last one in a long day of meet-the-fans-and-print-online-radio-elevision-press sessions. And Hugh answered all the questions affably, making little jokes while his eyes twinkled into mine.

Which brings us back to that Facebook photo. It features the (one-time, but who's counting?) Sexiest Man Alive smiling charmingly into the camera - and me, grinning, a whole head-and-a-half shorter.

And that is how there came to be a moment, immortalised in digital pixels for all posterity, of me and Hugh Jackman with our arms around each other, on a beautiful island in Sydney Harbour.

It's a tough job, but somebody's got to do it.

By May Seah,, 05:56 AM Feb 19, 2011
The writer is a features reporter at Today.

PHOTO: X-Men Origins: Wolverine is available now on Xbox 360.
Rated Mature and likely not suitable for the kiddies.

PHOTO: Lynn Collins plays "Kayla Silverfox" in the movie X-Men Origins: Wolverine