Everyone's Favorite Aussie: The 15 Greatest Hugh Jackman Moments

(This article is by Jacob Hall and Jack Giroux.)

It's hard to imagine the movies without Hugh Jackman. Not just because he's played the character of Wolverine for the past 17 years, kicking off the superhero movie boom and providing a consistent anchor through the various up and downs of the X-Men series. No, it's hard to imagine the movies without Hugh Jackman because he is one of our finest modern movie stars, an infinite well of charisma who has been nothing but fearless when it comes to taking risks and laying himself bare. Jackman has been in great movies, forgettable movies, and bad movies, but he's showcased a remarkable consistency over the years – you put him in the front of the camera and you get something worth watching.

With Logan now in theaters, it's time to pay tribute to an actor who is perfectly comfortable singing and dancing, hacking and slashing, wooing Meg Ryan and selling butter. These are the 15 greatest Hugh Jackman moments.

"Oh What a Beautiful Morning" in Oklahoma! (1999)

Before he was cast in X-Men, before he was a movie star, Hugh Jackman played the lead role of Curly in a London revival of the classic musical Oklahoma! and oh boy, he sure is magnificent. The show was filmed and released on video and while it's not quite a movie, it's movie enough – anyone who saw this before the superhero movie boom must've been shocked (shocked!) that this gifted musical stage performer ended up playing a tough-as-nails, adamantium-clawed mutant. Jackman's opening number, where he strolls on stage singing "Oh What a Beautiful Morning," is a perfect encapsulation of what makes him a movie star. You can teach someone to act. You can teach them to sing. You cannot teach charisma. You've got be born with that. The stage and the lights and the audience (and the camera, of course) just love Hugh Jackman. (Jacob Hall)

A Wolverine Walks Into a Bar... in X-Men (2000)

Hugh Jackman isn't as beefy as Wolverine in the original X-Men as he is now, but he doesn't look any less dangerous. The tortured hero is introduced as a pure animal, with Jackman quickly establishing why he's not a character to mess with. Right from his very first scene, Jackman is the Wolverine. He appears wild, reckless, and violent, but also lost, in desperate need of someone like Charles Xavier to come along and give him purpose. Logan actually ends up adding more weight to Wolverine's introduction, now that we can see the full arc of where the character started and where he ends up. (Jack Giroux)

Dancing and Hacking in Swordfish (2001)

The dancing, hacking, and smoking sequence is one of the many, many silly scenes in Dominic Sena's already dated action movie, Swordfish, a film about hacking that does not understand hacking at all. But not for a second does Jackman ever appear to be not committed to this nonsense. To him, this is the story of a hacker who wants to be a part of his daughter's life again and he sells it, giving it more spirit than other actors would have. The dancing sequence is the biggest reminder of Jackman's talent in the entire movie. It's the most conventionally enjoyable scene in Swordfish, mainly because it's Jackman on his own, being goofy and charming. Even when the script isn't there, he still finds ways to entertain us. (Jack Giroux)

The Butter Commercial from Kate & Leopold (2001)

Hugh Jackman is a sincere actor, which is why he's the perfect choice to star in this romantic comedy. His first collaboration with director James Mangold, Kate & Leopold, is silly in the right ways. In one scene, Prince Leopold (Jackman), Duke of Albany and accidental time traveller, is starring in a butter commercial. It's a tad ridiculous to say the least, but watch how Jackman plays Leopold and you'll completely understand why Meg Ryan's character wants the man from the 1800s starring in a butter ad. No one is better at helping an audience suspend disbelief. Whatever Jackman is doing in a movie, even if he's playing a time traveler who can't fathom supporting a poor butter product, he's believable and oh-so-charming. (Jack Giroux)

The Mansion Rampage in X2 (2003)

Plenty of fans and critics have noted Hugh Jackman's intense physical commitment to his roles, with the actor defying the laws of nature to somehow appear tougher and stronger and more cut as the years went on. For an example of a movie taking full advantage of the fact that their leading man actually looks like he could decimate an entire team of mutant-hunting soldiers, look to X2, the second X-Men movie and one of the high-water marks of early superhero cinema. Jackman growls and yells and sells every single stab and slash. It's the work of an absolute beast...and it's also really funny. And that's Jackman's secret weapon – his toughness masks an innate comedian. He transforms his body, sells the action, and makes you laugh. He's a performer through and through. (Jacob Hall)

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Crying Like a Man in The Fountain (2006)

Some actors are far too reserved when their characters should be bawling their eyes out. Hugh Jackman isn't one of those actors. He holds nothing back in The Fountain – when the love of his life dies, he straight-up ugly cries. When he's by himself, applying his first tattoo, he looks like a guy who's been completely and utterly destroyed. He looks like a man who has lost the love of his life. The character is completely alone and helpless, and Jackman makes it all the more upsetting by not being afraid to lay himself emotionally bare. (Jack Giroux)

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That Look of Wonder in The Fountain (2006)

The Fountain is a raw and sensitive movie, the cinematic equivalent of an unseen emotional wound. It's the kind of film that comes very close to biting off more than it can chew, a film that could fall apart instantly if any involved winked. But in Hugh Jackman, director Darren Aronofksy found a leading man ready and willing to take on the absurd with a straight face. There's bravery in looking to the unknown and expressing wonder. Because wonder isn't cool. It's a little silly. It's being overwhelmed in the presence of something you cannot comprehend. It's being a little afraid. And the ending of The Fountain, where Jackman embarks on the "road to awe," finds him completely surrendering to the moment. Do not let the instant meme-ability of this moment dilute its power. (Jacob Hall)

The Final Scene in The Prestige (2006)

There's a lot to unpack in the final moments of The Prestige (and spoilers ahead, if you haven't seen this movie), where the two, or rather three, magicians at the heart of the film have their final confrontation. Christian Bale's Alfred Borden is executed for a murder he did not commit...only for his twin brother, who has been hiding in the shadows all these years, to show up and shoot Hugh Jackman's Robert Angier in the gut. First, there's that twin reveal. And then there's Jackman's death, where he looks his rival in the eye and continues to spit venom with his final moments of life. And finally, there's Jackman's devastation over his signature trick, where he uses science fiction human replication created by Nikola Tesla to create a copy of himself. Is he even the real Angier? Or is he a copy of copy of a copy, a shell of his former self? There's so much to take in, so much plot to absorb, so many odd and bitter pills to swallow...and Bale and Jackman sell it, keeping the movie grounded even as it teeters on the edge of the deep end. (Jacob Hall)

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The Attempted Murder in Scoop (2011)

Hugh Jackman can play the nice guy. There's no question about that. He can also play a pretty good villain and he deserves more credit for that. Jackman has stretched himself enough as an actor to never get typecast, but he still has the image of the nicest movie star walking planet earth. So it's nice to see that twisted on the big screen now and then. Woody Allen used that image to his advantage with Scoop, casting Jackman as a cold-hearted murderer with an awfully good smile.

Jackman is funny as a romantic leading man in Scoop, but he's even funnier when the character is revealed as the killer. He turns Allen's low-key jokes into big laughs, like when he talks about his relationship with Scarlett Johansson's character coming full circle before nonchalantly adding that he's going to kill. There's no passion or anger in his voice – Jackman's unwavering tone is hilarious. He makes this pretty good Woody Allen movie more memorable and it's not the first time or last time his performance has elevated a movie. (Jack Giroux)

"Who Am I?" in Les Miserables (2012)

Les Miserables is a weak adaptation of a great play, a botched opportunity and one of the most disappointing prestige films of the past decade. But no one tell Hugh Jackman, whose performance as Jean Valjean transcends the movie around him. Singing "live" (rather than performing to a pre-recorded track), Jackman is breathless and improvisatory, choosing to speak key lyrics and sing others. The emphasis is more on performance than melody and the result is something that is remarkable when viewed in a bubble: a character breaking into song to express the depths of his despair and guilt rather than to entertain an audience. Does that fly against the purpose of a musical? Maybe? I'm not sure. Les Miserables isn't good enough to make an argument for it. But Jackman's Jean Valjean really is magnetic, especially when he's wondering if he should turn himself in for his past crimes after an innocent man is accused in his stead.

The Wolverine

Anytime He's Shirtless in The Wolverine (2013)

The older Hugh Jackman got, the bigger he got as Wolverine. While Logan has the presence of a feisty animal in Bryan Singer's X-Men, he's an absolute beast in The Wolverine. At the age of 43, Jackman achieved one of the most impressive physiques in movie history. That's no small feat. It takes remarkable discipline to do that. The way he'd transform his body as this character is a sign of absolute dedication. Logan may not be able to fly or shoot lasers from his eyes, but based on Jackman's biceps, he has the strength of an army. With his time as Wolverine coming to an end, he'll hopefully allow himself to have a few carbs now. (Jack Giroux)

The Interrogation Scene in Prisoners (2013)

The fact that Hugh Jackman is a physically imposing man makes him a fine fit for superheroes, but Prisoners is the rare film to transform that physicality into a terrifying threat. While not quite a horror movie, Denis Villeneuve's pitch-black thriller about a vengeful father searching for his missing children transforms Jackman into something out a nightmare. Burly and bearded and emotionally naked, he's a good man who feels that the only option, the only way to achieve justice, is to become a monster. What happens when the gentle bear, the blue collar family man, decides to break out his claws? Is it possible to turn back? Jackman allows grief and remorse to lie just under the surface of his rage as he tortures his chief subject, making his horrible actions feel almost justified. Almost. (Jacob Hall)

Blackbeard’s Entrance in Pan (2015)

Over the course of this list, we've already written about Jackman's commitment to his roles, his inability to tell a lie on screen. This also applies to moments that flat-out don't work, moments that are so purely wrongheaded in their conception that you can't help but wonder what anyone was thinking when they decided this was okay. In Pan, a Peter Pan movie so bizarre you almost have to forgive the fact that its skeleton is built entirely out of bad choices, Jackman plays the pirate Blackbeard, who rules over Neverland, a timeless fantasy land where...people sing Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" to greet their pirate lord? What? It's the kind of thing you have to watch through closed fingers, but Jackman doesn't seem to be remotely embarrassed. He sells this inexplicable moment with a goofy bravado borrowed from a much better movie.  (Jacob Hall)

The Best Worst Pep Talk Ever in Eddie the Eagle (2016)

Eddie the Eagle is a simple movie that relies on simple pleasures to get the job done, following the inspiring sports movie template to a T. However, the film knows the value of Taron Egerton as a wet-behind-the-ears olympian and it knows the value of an older, wearier Hugh Jackman as his trainer. That charm that made Jackman a movie star has turned to sweet vinegar in this film – he's the exact kind of inspiring sports coach you'd want giving you a pep talk before the big game (or in this case, the big ski jump), mainly because his praise isn't sugarcoated. If you impress him, you've really done something well.  (Jacob Hall)

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The Opening Scene in Logan (2017)

Hugh Jackman is present from beginning to end in Logan and it never feels like we're watching Hugh Jackman, the actor. Jackman has managed to completely disappear as this character for the past 17 years. He has learned to live inside this role. And yet, Logan's opening makes it abundantly clear we're about to see a new side of this fallen hero, a new type of comic book movie, and an emotionally resonate performance from Jackman, who's never looked more torn up on the inside and outside. The first scene is a contained, brutal, and bloody action scene, but the real spectacle in this sequence is Jackman, whose performance is far more riveting than a dozen flattened cities.  (Jack Giroux)