Saturday, January 26, 2013


Hugh Jackman’s got balls. By my count, he has three distinct pairs of them. 

First, there are his natural balls. They exist. I’ve seen them, sort of. 

Once upon a time, I was a production assistant on “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” (remember that movie you downloaded illegally before its theatrical release, asshole?). We were shooting in a stunningly beautiful valley in New Zealand. A scene called for HJ to run naked across a field and into a barn. The assistant director announced that only essential crew members were allowed near the set, and everyone else had to hide behind a hill. As an essential crew member, I was assigned the task of keeping pesky non-essentials (and their cameras) away from naked HJ. I thwarted at least one VFX guy from taking a “lighting reference reading for post-production.” Riiiiiight. Back to your computer, Nerd! 
That's me on set in New Zealand. Never got a pic with HJ, damn it.

HJ arrived at his first mark accompanied by his hair & makeup people who spritzed him with spray bottles to make him look sweaty for his big run. When the director called action, Hugh dropped his bathrobe and ran across the field (no small feat, as the field was littered with rocks and sheep shit), and everyone pretended that they weren’t looking at one of the world’s biggest stars running around in his altogether in broad daylight. After four or five efficient takes, we moved on. In truth, he wasn’t really naked. He was wearing the rather ridiculous flesh colored g-string that lots of stars wear when they’re shooting almost-nude scenes. So, I guess I haven’t really seen his balls, but pretty close. Anyway, it was an interesting day’s work. 
Then there are Mr. Jackman’s metaphorical balls. His Actor’s Balls. He’s got ‘em in spades. 

As the world now knows, Tom Hooper’s “Les Miserables” is performed entirely in live-recorded song. It is loaded with huge emotional solos that theater kids in the 1980s loved to belt out at auditions (my sister was one of them). What works on a stage does not always work on a screen, and movie musicals are infamously hit or miss. As popular as the stage musical of “Les Miz” continues to be, it was a risky proposition for a movie. It’s a serious show about a bunch of (um) miserable people going through horrible times, and singing about it. It could have been a disaster. But it isn’t. In spite of some lackluster direction and one glaring bit of miscasting, the movie works. That is in no small part due to HJ as Jean Valjean. 

He took on one of the most well-known protagonists in literature, one that has been read, seen and heard in almost every conceivable medium, and made the role his own on the big screen and in song. While other characters drift in and out of the story, he’s always solidly there at the center carrying the whole thing on his shoulders. It’s a huge performance in a risky movie, and it took balls. Big Time Actor’s Balls. Good on ya, mate!

(Before we move on, read no further if you haven’t seen “Movie 43” yet, but want to. If you think it looks too raunchy and offensive for your sensitive palate, you’re right. It’s ain’t for Grandma. For the rest of us, it is hysterical, and I don’t want to spoil the movie’s funniest moment. You’ve been warned.)
And now we come to HJ’s third set of balls. His fake balls. They are the prosthetic balls that dangle below his chin in a Peter Farrelly-directed sketch in “Movie 43.” They are the funniest sight gag in recent memory. Never have I seen a star as big as Hugh Jackman participate in a comedy bit as gross, absurd and hilarious as this (except for his co-star Kate Winslet, who’s reactions are priceless). I love that I can wander my local multiplex and see the same guy belting out a thunderous tune in one theater and dipping his neck-balls in a bowl of soup in another (take THAT, Daniel Day-Lewis!). 

Hugh’s fake balls are my favorite pair. They show that a guy who has conquered the worlds of stage and screen still has a great sense of humor and a willingness to make himself look absolutely ridiculous just to make an audience laugh. On the set of “Wolverine,” he could not have been more courteous to the crew. He knew our names and always thanked us for our hard work. He’s talented, funny and decent. He’s good people. We need more stars like Hugh Jackman. We need stars with lots of balls. 

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