Hugh Jackson talks robots, kids, & parenting for “Real Steel”

Hugh Jackman is promoting his new film “Real Steel” after a two-year hiatus from the big screen.

“This is like ‘Paper Moon’ meets ‘Rocky,’ ” says the Australian mega-star inside Cobo Arena, which is temporary home to a giant boxing ring, about 600 extras and enough cameras and high-tech equipment to stock a small studio.

What’s it like work with a child actor and well…the robots

“In a way, Dakota and I kept it buddy-buddy offscreen rather than child-adult, because that’s what happens in the film, a more relaxed, jokey kind of relationship. As a dad myself, I’m definitely stricter than my wife. I’m more like the bad cop at home.

“I mean, I feel a hell of a lot more lenient than my dad. I’m one of five kids, so it was a lot more regimented. But my wife is caught up in a loosey-goosey, kind of ‘whatever’ vibe.

“So it was fantastic to play this kind of parent. There’s days you want to say things to your kids and just don’t. Talk back to them, tell them how annoying they are. But you zip it up, walk out of rooms frustrated. So for three months I got to say everything you could possibly want to say to an 11-year old.”


“If it wasn’t walking or fighting, it was animatronic,” Jackman says of the robot-filled milieu. “The rest of the time we acted with guys in green suits. Eddie would fully get into the character of the robot. There’s one scene where Eddie and I are doing boxing on the lawn of the motel, we worked on that hard, like synchronized swimmers. Eddie was unbelievable as the mirroring guy.”

Otherwise, Jackman assesses Real Steel as “the first action movie I’ve been in where I don’t see any action. I do get my ass kicked (by a fight promoter played by Thunder Bay-born screen bad-guy Kevin Durand).

“It’s a very human story. I get to be a dad. Yes, there’s a big world of robot boxing, but at its heart it’s like this road movie between father and son — something less driven than me being an action star.”

“There’s a lesson to be learned there. There’s always a tendency to just go for more. But rather than creating a movie with just wall-to-wall special effects, Shawn allowed a little breathing room.

“It totally seems to help audiences root for these robots.”

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