THE LEADING MEN: Broadway Is a Dream Come True Again for Hugh Jackman

By Brandon Voss
31 Oct 2011

Hugh Jackman
photo by Joan Marcus

Playing yourself should also make it easier to reprimand audience members for ringing cell phones.
Oh, yes, and I'm sure that will happen. In fact, there will probably be people who deliberately leave their cell phones on just to see me snap. I don't know how many times I reprimanded people as Peter Allen in The Boy From Oz. I even answered phone calls and took messages for people. I want my show to feel loose and real, so if someone's talking in front of me or checking their Blackberry for the baseball score, yeah, I'm probably going to say something to them.

You famously chastised an audience member for a ringing phone during A Steady Rain. When you saw the viral video clip of your outburst, did you regret losing your cool?
It was the right thing to do in that situation. What happened on that particular night is that the phone rang once right through. That had happened a few times before, but at this point it rang at the most crucial, climactic point of the entire play. I was so worked up that I decided to just let it go, but whoever it was did the old thing where they kick it under the chair and pretend it's not them. When it rang again 30 seconds later, I could hear people going, "Turn it off!" Look, that show was 70 percent Daniel and me talking directly to the audience, and John Crowley, our director, told us to really connect with them. So at that point, I thought, well, if you're having a conversation with someone at a dinner party and their phone rang, you'd probably say, "Are you going to answer that or what?" So I'd absolutely do it again.

And the audience member who filmed that is really just as guilty.
Right! That's a good point. But there are probably loads of people in there with cameras, and it's just another one of those things.

The stage door scene after Hugh Jackman, Back on Broadway will likely be even more insane than it was after A Steady Rain. Do you look forward to that particular fan interaction?
I really try not to take anything for granted. Sometimes I'm a little embarrassed at how much tickets cost, and if someone buys a ticket or two to a Broadway show, I'm aware that it's maybe a once- or twice-a-year situation for a lot of people. So if they're choosing to see you, the least you can do is greet those people at the stage door and sign an autograph. When I was in New York 15 years ago, I got a poster signed by Al Pacino when he did Hughie at Circle in the Square. I still have it in my home with a scribble that could be the letter Z, but I think it's meant to be an A. It meant a lot to me to get that from a hero of mine. But really, most people just want to say "thank you," and it's always nice to meet them. By the way, I always make sure that there are student rush tickets for every show I do, because if it wasn't for that when I was a student, I wouldn't have seen any theatre.

What etiquette should fans remember at the stage door?
No spitting if you didn't like the show. But seriously, the hard thing now is that everyone has a camera. I'll sign something for everybody, but — and I feel bad about this — I just can't take photos with everybody.

Finally — and I only ask on behalf of your straight female and gay male fans — do you remove your shirt during the show?
[Laughs.] You never know. But whatever happens, it will be tastefully done.

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