Tuesday 20 March 2018

Hugh Jackman thrilled by Blackbeard pirate role in Neverland film

Hugh Jackman poses for photographs with fans while attending the world premiere of Pan, held at the Odeon, Leicester Square, London
Hugh Jackman poses for photographs with fans while attending the world premiere of Pan, held at the Odeon, Leicester Square, London
Hugh Jackman stars in the new film Pan

Hugh Jackman described the experience of playing Blackbeard in Neverland as "just awesome" as he joined co-stars Rooney Mara, Garrett Hedlund and Levi Miller in London's Leicester Square for the film's world premiere.

Jackman plays the sneering, ruthless pirate Blackbeard in the film, which reveals the magical beginnings of the boy who never grew up.

To celebrate Pan's launch Leicester Square's gardens were transformed into a breathtaking Neverland, complete with bright canopies, floral arches, colourful tents and masts and rigging from the deck of the Jolly Roger.

As he strolled the red - in this case blue - carpet Jackman posed for photos with screaming fans.

Describing the experience of filming, he said: "The movie was so much fun and it was like nothing I had really done before because increasingly these movies become more and more green screen.

"We had the biggest set that had ever been built. (Director) Joe Wright said, 'No, I want this set, I want the feel of Neverland, I want the real ships', and we did. These ships moved, and it was crazy."

He added: "You are playing a pirate and you are in Neverland, I mean what's not to like? It was just awesome."

Miller, his young co-star, also admitted to having a slight crush on Mara, who plays Tiger Lily in the film.

Jackman said he had always been a Peter Pan fan and described the joy of revisiting JM Barrie's 1911 novel before starting filming.

He said: "It's something that every adult should go back and read because it's one of those great reminders, that it's easy to lose your child-like sense of wonder with the world, that anything can happen, and 'fun' of life.

"And that's sort of what it it's about, and how (as) adults we get weighed down by responsibilities and we lose that sense of fun and wonder."

Jackman, an Emmy, Golden Globe and Tony Award winner, was also full of praise for his young co-star Miller.

The 12-year-old - a fellow Australian - beat thousands of hopefuls to win the role of Peter, his first major film role.

Jackman said Levi initially called him "Mr Jackman" until the older star put him right and told him to call him Hugh.

He said: "He's just a natural. He's a natural actor, and his heart and his warmth really is the centre of the movie, I think."

And with Australia set to open their Rugby World Cup campaign against Fiji later this week, Jackman also had a message for his countrymen: "R est up, Wednesday's the day - go get 'em, Wallabies."

Model Cara Delevingne also took to the blue carpet in a short black dress - a far cry from the outfit she wore for her role as a mermaid in the film.

And Miller was a little sheepish as he admitted that he had developed a little crush on his co-star Mara during filming.

He said: "I have got to admit, I had a bit of a crush on her. She's a brilliant actress."

The young actor described filming as "awesome", saying: "It was so much fun, a great cast and crew to work with. They were all very lovely.

"I started crying when I got the call that I had the role - tears of joy, of course. It was insane, it was a dream come true."

And he had a message for other aspiring young actors, saying: "Keep trying - keep trying and trying. It's definitely a lot of fun - and to have fun with it, of course."

Mara said she had been drawn to the role of Tiger Lily as she was a "great warrior" and was the one "kicking ass", rather than being a damsel in distress.

She said: "Of course I grew up loving Peter Pan and loving Tiger Lily, and so it was just a cool opportunity to live it out, in a way."

She added: "Everyone loves Peter Pan. There have been so many different versions of it - Hook, when I was little, I was obsessed with that movie.

"Children can relate to it on so many different levels".

Pan tells the story of Peter, a mischievous young boy with an irrepressible rebellious streak who grows up in a bleak London orphanage.

One night he is whisked away by pirates to a fantastical world called Neverland, where he endures life-and-death battles as he searches for his mother, fights the ruthless and mysterious figure Blackbeard and battles to save the land with his new friend - a certain James Hook, played by Hedlund.

Leicester Square was transformed into a spectacular version of the film set for the premiere, complete with rigging and masts from the Jolly Roger, floral arches and tents from Tiger Lily's Neverland domain.

Press Association

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