20th Century Fox sure hopes so! In a story in yesterday’s Times, overcompensating executives at the studio hilariously describe Viva Laughlin–toplining, three-time Tony Awards host Hugh Jackman as “rough-hewn” and a “young Clint Eastwood.” “There are not many actors who have an ability to pick up a Nicole Kidman, throw her on the bed and ravish her with believability,” says Australia director Baz Luhrmann. Additionally: “He is also excellent with a cattle whip.”
Australia (opening November 26) — in which Jackman stars as a virile cowboy who helps Kidman drive cattle across her land — offers a desperate Fox one final chance to prove to America that he can play a “classic leading-man” before next May’s release of his superhero spinoff X-Men Origins: Wolverine (as you’ll recall, the casts of previous X-Men movies have been filled out with more reliably macho actors like Ian McKellen and Alan Cumming). “I’m never that worried about positioning myself, and I don’t like labels personally or professionally. But this is definitely the straight-down-the-line, classic, old-school leading-man role I’ve been waiting for,” said Jackman, who then belched, farted, and started a bar fight all at the same time.