When father of two Hugh Jackman was invited to take part in the family-friendly film Real Steel, he sought expert advice about whether to accept – from his own 11-year-old-son, Oscar.
“It is not a story I am particularly proud of. I’d had the script for three or four days and hadn’t read it,” he explains.
“My agent rang and said ‘Shawn Levy (the film’s director) is in town, you are going to meet him tomorrow morning’ and I was ‘Yeah, no problem’.
“So it was eight o’clock and I was about to read Tintin to my boy and I was ‘Hey Oscar, how about I read you some of this script? You’re going to love it’. And he is like ‘Uh. All right’.
“He always draws when I read to him. After about 10 pages I was really getting into it and I looked up and he was ‘go on, go on, go on’. He made me read it to him every night for the next 10 nights.
“So, bad fathering, good outcome.”
The movie combines the metal-bashing thrills of Transformers with the appeal of a video game.
In a not-so-distant future, human boxers have been replaced with robots who can be even more violent than their predecessors (in the underground boxing world the fighters’ heads can often be taken as trophies) while humans stand safely ringside controlling them.
Hugh plays a debt-ridden ex-boxer, Charlie, on the fringes of the sport who is given a chance to join the big leagues when he is forced to look after the son he abandoned as a baby and the boy salvages a sparring ‘bot that hits a winning streak.
The legendary Sugar Ray Leonard acted as a consultant so the boxing scenes would look authentic, and Hugh actually got the chance to train with him.
“He was very kind to me. However, there was a moment when the behind the scenes cameras turned on. Out of the corner of his eye I could see he saw it. He was just doing little punches to my stomach then, man, he started whaling on me – I really felt that.”
Ironically Hugh’s own father was a championship boxer but he had told his son little about his days in the ring when he was growing up.
“Me and my brother Ralph, who is 18 months older than me, we fought from the moment I was born so he wouldn’t allow us to watch wrestling, boxing, he never talked about it, he thought we would glorify it and bash each other up even more. Only now does he talk about it.”