It's 7 p.m. in the Toronto airport, and after a grueling day of doing press at the film festival, Wolverine himself—Hugh Jackman—is going through security. No claws. Check. Many fans. Check.
Jackman not only breezes through security, but stops to shake every hand and take pictures with fans ranging from age 10 to 80. "These are the people who put me where I am today," says Jackman, who's been married to Australian actress Deborra-lee Furness since 1996. "I love getting out there and meeting the people."
How nice is Hugh Jackman? Two hours later, the woman sitting next to me on the plane back to the West Coast has a dreamy look in her eye and shows me her iPhone. "I was buying magazines and ran into Hugh Jackman!" she gushes. "He even took a picture with me."
YourTango: What's your secret to having one of the best marriages in this business?
Hugh Jackman: You love each other—and respect each other. You truly want to be together.
YourTango: Does your wife have any major house rules?
Hugh Jackman: My wife says whenever anyone says to me, 'Hey, Hugh, you're looking kind of stylish' then that's the time I have to say, 'Oh, that's my wife.' She told me, 'Honey, I don't need a lot of applause, but I do need it in the style department.'
YourTango: That's hilarious.
Hugh Jackman: My wife told me if she ever reads me saying, 'Yeah, I really love fashion. I know what to wear' then she will slap me around!
YourTango: How did you know Deb was The One?
Hugh Jackman: I think you just know. There isn't a question mark there.
YourTango: What is your best parenting advice? Your daughter Ava is now 8 and son Oscar is 13. What is life like at Chez Jackman?
Hugh Jackman: My best parenting advice is to give you no advice. The only parents who give advice are the ones who are not parents yet. Don't trust the advice. Just do it.
YourTango: Does your wife keep things centered when you're filming?
Hugh Jackman: She's the greatest. I'm one of the lucky ones. She's very wise, a great actress, and a great wife and mother. Did you see her host The View? She does it all. I'm really proud of her.
YourTango: We all know you're Wolverine. What power would you like to have in real life?
Hugh Jackman: Definitely teleporting. I'm always on planes. I'm one of those people who pack too much into life and the traveling gets really tiring. It would be nice to teleport myself home every night, walk the dog, and then go to sleep with my kids in the next rooms and my wife next to me. Heaven.
YourTango: Switching gears, what was it like to work with Jake Gyllenhaal in your new movie Prisoners? It's one of the best films of the year.
Hugh Jackman: I loved working with Jake. I think you can see it in the movie. We're lone wolves and their relationship is really important to the story. We only have four or five scenes together and wanted to make the most of those. As actors, none of us really wanted to leave the scene. We wanted to dive in and investigate.
YourTango: As a father, how difficult was it to do a movie about a missing child?
Hugh Jackman: It was gut wrenching. I read something from a father ... the most howling part is knowing your child is waiting for you and can't understand why you're not there. The police say, 'Let us do our job.' It's maddening to think you can't do anything and you're failing your child. It's hard to comprehend.
YourTango: On a much lighter note, are you the coolest dad around because you're Wolverine?
Hugh Jackman: My kids are used to seeing me with the long Wolverine hair and hair on my face. I've been playing the role since before my son was born and now he's 13. The difference is now the kids are interested in it. Last summer, my son wanted to see my new movie The Wolverine. It was summer vacation and he's 13. My son had to wake up at 6:15 a.m. and not 10 a.m. He did this voluntarily. Trust me, at this age, you wait for the kids to wake up, so this was a major vote of confidence for Dad putting on the claws again.
YourTango: You're filming X-Men: Days of Future Past. Do you ever tire of being Wolverine?
Hugh Jackman: I never get tired of playing Wolverine. And it's fun to have the pack back together. I wouldn't do it unless I loved it. The character is growing and the films are getting better and better ... The truth is I'm enjoying Wolverine more than ever. The character is deeper now. He's more emotional and more vulnerable.
YourTango: Do you like having that kind of facial hair?
Hugh Jackman: Luckily, I have the gene for that kind of hair from my father. I'm just lucky that this kind of hair doesn't grow on my back.
YourTango: How did you get into such amazing shape—and stay in that shape?
Hugh Jackman: I probably worked out harder on this than any other movie. I called my buddy Dwayne Johnson and he put together a Wolverine training program for me. He really helped me out. I'm also at a point where I know how my body works.
YourTango: Does age impact anything?
Hugh Jackman: I wasn't rushing, which was key. When you're 44, your body doesn't really want to change, so you have to take the time and push it. It's tough, but not impossible. Actually, I'm grateful that I have this reason that I have to be in the gym.
YourTango: Did you cheat?
Hugh Jackman: The great thing about Dwayne is that every eighth day, he does an entire cheat day. On that day, he eats unbelievable amounts of pizza. The guy can eat three double cheese pizzas at one sitting or three trays of chocolate fudge brownies. He goes to town! The rest of his week is chicken and steak.
YourTango: What was your cheat?
Hugh Jackman: I had a giant burger with the works, the largest serving of fries anyone could cook, and a gigantic chocolate milkshake. I even texted a picture of this meal to Dwayne and he wrote back one word: Amazon.
YourTango: Is is true you wanted to be a journalist?
Hugh Jackman: I did study journalism in college. But I wasn't sure journalism was really my calling. I knew that there was something more for me out there.
YourTango: What was it like to be nominated last year for Les Miz?
Hugh Jackman: It was such an amazing honor. I will never forget it. To be recognized after all these years really meant the world to me. When I hosted the Oscars, I thought I would never, ever match that experience. Singing on that stage was such a thrill for me. It was the ultimate. Being nominated was an impossibly bigger thrill.
YourTango: Why are you still so nice and not some attitude filled movie star?
Hugh Jackman: I came to this work late. It took me a long time to get here. It took me forever to feel as if it was even possible. To be working in movies almost 20 years later is not what I expected. Whenever I have a moment that's ugly that creeps in, I just think, 'Shut up. You have a great job.'