Back in 2001, a very different Liev Schreiber and a very different Hugh Jackman appeared together in the time-twisting romantic-drama “Kate & Leopold.”
It seems like so long ago.
“Something like 12 years ago, Hugh and I did a film together,” says Schreiber, for whom it appears to feel even longer ago. “And, believe it or not, I believe I was bigger than Hugh in those days. Things have changed. He’s grown substantially, both as an actor and as a human being in general.”
Schreiber and Jackman will be reunited this Friday (May 1) under substantially different circumstances, and with substantially less Meg Ryan, in the comic book film “X-Men Origins: Wolverine.” While Jackman is taking his fourth stab at playing Wolverine, Schreiber is new to this world, playing Victor Creed, eventually known as the mutant Sabretooth.
“The first agenda was getting bigger,” Schreiber acknowledges to reporters at the “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” press day. “I made the awful mistake of going online to sort of see what the fans thought and, of course, they said ‘You need to get bigger.’ So I started working out with Hugh and doing the high-protein diet. Between the two of us, I think we wiped out a whole gene pool of chickens. I know people think that it’s a departure for me, but I don’t, really. I felt right at home with that sort of sibling rivalry thing with Hugh. It was a lot of fun.”
Schreiber discussed the idea that Victor Creed was a departure back in December at the junket for “Defiance.” While Schreiber was fighting Nazis in that action film, in “X-Men Origins: Wolverine,” Schreiber plays the bad guy. Although he’s had no shortager of killers, romantic adversaries and unsavory types on his varied resume, he’s never played a character quite the equal of Creed, with his retractable claws, fangs and a conspicuous lack of morality.
“I’ve never been someone who takes characters home with me at night. The claws and the teeth came off. Unfortunately the sideburns didn’t,” Schreiber cracks. “I’ve never really had a probably with that. Also you’re playing… particularly in [my case], you’re playing anger, which is a relatively easy emotion. It’s easily accessible. And I know you’re all thinking, ‘He’s an angry guy.’ It’s easy for everyone. It’s a much easier emotion than love.”
Schreiber says he never lacked for inspiration on the “Wolverine” set.
He recounts a story from the shooting of the film’s first major fight sequence down in New Zealand.
“Hugh and I had rehearsed day and night for this and, I’ll admit, I’ll be candid here that I wasn’t sure that physically I was up to this role. Now I know that I am, but initially I was a little bit concerned,” Schreiber says. “Hugh and I — I’m sorry to say this in public, Hugh — but Hugh and I being the elder statesmen of this cast, I think were both rightfully concerned that we wouldn’t be able to pull off the fight that the stunt guys had shown us and sure we’d been lifting weights and we looked large, but what they were asking for was truly impossible and brutal.”
He continues, “I just remember the third night, after shooting until six in the morning every night, looking over and Hugh and the two of us were just so smashed up by this fight and desperate improve, but desperate to impress our small sons at home. And they said, ‘Would you guys like to do one more?’ And I remember looking across at hough and praying he might say, ‘I’m tired. I want to go home and go to bed.’ And he said, ‘Naw. I feel great.’ And I looked across and I said, ‘No. I feel great.’ And I looked at Hugh and they said, ‘One more?’ and Hugh said, ‘No, I could do two more.’ And he looked across and me and I said, ‘I yeah, I could probably do three or four more.’ And that was my sole motivation for the rest of this entire film.”
“X-Men Origins: Wolverine” opens on Friday, May 1.
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