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Hugh Jackman on His Oscar Party, His Role in Lee Daniels’s Selma, and Getting Naked in Acting Class

Just because Hugh Jackman wasn't hosting this year's Oscars, and the film he was once supposed to be shooting this week got canceled, doesn't mean he sat at home on Sunday night feeling sorry for himself: "I sat at home wearing my track pants, a T-shirt, and the bow-tie I wore last year, so I kind of felt like I was sort of there," he told us at last night's premiere of City Island at the DGA Theater. "I'm a goofball, yeah." And despite what you thought, Jackman thinks this year's emcees, Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin, did just fine: "Oh, mate, they were great. They were hilarious, very funny."

The awards-giving didn't quite go exactly the way Jackman would've liked, however: "I loved [Precious]," he said. "To me, that was the best movie of the year." In May, Jackman will begin shooting Precious director Lee Daniels's Selma — about the 1965 marches from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama — in which he says he'll play Jim Clark, the short-tempered Alabama sheriff whose violent arrests of civil-rights protesters got international attention. "You’re the first person I’ve told, so I’m not even sure if I was meant to say that. So there you go, that’s enough trouble for one night," he told us.

He had time for a little more trouble, though! In City Island, Andy Garcia plays a prison guard who sneaks away to take acting classes. So we asked Jackman if he had any funny stories from his own days as an acting student. "I remember getting naked one day," he volunteered. "They said, 'We want you to get up there and do the thing that someone would least expect you to do,' because the guy was talking about unpredictability. And I said, 'What do you mean?' And he said, 'Just like, what’s the last thing you would do in front of the group?' And I just dropped my pants and took off my shirt, and I said, 'Kind of like that?' And he goes, 'Yeah. That’s kind of it. Now put your clothes on, Jackman, and get out of here.'"

Photo: Patrick McMullan