Hugh Jackman spent 17 years playing Wolverine for Fox’s X-Men franchise, capturing every aspect of the character, from brooding, cocky outsider to brooding, haunted recluse. But things weren’t always smooth sailing for Jackman’s attempts to get in touch with comic-dom’s most famous Canuck. After all, how can you really get into the head of a wolverine, when you don’t even know they exist?
This is per Page Six, which recounts an anecdote Jackman recently told about his prep process for the first X-Men film. “I didn’t even know there was a wolverine. I literally, embarrassingly did about two weeks of research on wolves. I remember going past an IMAX in Toronto, and there was an IMAX documentary about wolves, and so I thought, ‘I’ll go and see that.’”
Jackman’s misconceptions about which toothy monster he was actually portraying apparently cropped up pretty quickly once he was on set with director Bryan Singer. “He said, ‘Are you sort of walking funny, what’s going on?’ And I said, ‘I’ve been doing this thing with wolves,’ and he goes, ‘You know you’re not a wolf, right?’”
This beautiful moment of mammalian confusion was followed by Jackman’s assertions that “wolverines” didn’t actually exist. (The irony of an Australian actor not believing in one of the Northern Hemisphere’s crazier animals apparently being lost on all involved.) “I said, ‘Well, there’s no such thing as a wolverine,’” Jackman said. Singer’s response: “Go to the zoo, dude.”
We’re not sure what Jackman’s subsequent research into the largest member of the weasel family ended up contributing to his portrayal, but it seems to have worked out; he ended up playing the character in nine different films, finishing up with the critically beloved Logan earlier this year.