Hugh Jackman for “Flushed Away”

Hugh Jackman may not have changed over the years, but yet he remains one of Hollywood’s busiest and most sought after actors. Jackman goes from one project to the next, with four films alone opening over the next month, including the animated Happy Feet and “Flushed Away”, plus “The Fountain” and “The Prestige”.

While “The Prestige” allows Jackman to bring out his darker side, the antithesis can be said of “Flushed Away”, in which he plays a snooty rat inadvertently sent to the sewers of London where he discovers that there’s more to life than class and social mores where he meets a tough sewer rat, played by Kate Winslet.

His attraction to this Aardman animated comedy was instantaneous. “I was in drama school in Perth, Western Australia, during 1994, turned on my TV, and saw the last seven minutes of The Wrong Trousers. My brother and I were laughing so hard that we thought, ‘We’ve got to find this.’ So, we tracked it down, got a video and used to give it as our standard present to anyone. I thought we’d discovered them, but I think they’d won an Academy Award at that point, but when I was in Perth, I thought we’d somehow discovered them. So, when I got a call from that group, I was totally in. I think it’s fair to say it was selfish reasons first, and then I thought of my son afterwards,” says Jackman, laughingly.

Jackman smilingly recalls how his Roddy the Rat changed over the course of the two years he worked on the film. “At the beginning, he was more upper class, almost royal with that aristocratic attitude. He had two hamsters who were his servants, so, the whole thing, going down into the sewer, was more, “Oh, you people.” It was a little bit removed and snobbish, which actually made him not very likable. So, we changed it from being that to being more sheltered, as he lives in this pampered life, doesn’t think of himself as a rat, but as a James Bond character who is having the time of his life.”

As with most animated films, Jackman worked alone, unlike in Australian director George Miller’s “Happy Feet”. “Nicole [Kidman] and I worked for a couple of days together as we play mum and dad of the lead character and that was fantastic.”

Jackman is currently shooting “The Tourist”, the first film out of the gate from his Seed Productions. “Thursday was our first day and it was a great thrill. It’s a suspense thriller written by Patrick Marber, and it’s very smart and sexy.” It seems that deny it he might, but there’s no stopping this boy from Oz any time soon.